On March 11th we'll see the next Japanese Youth title fight, as Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) and Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) clash for the Japanese Youth Welterweight title at Korakuen Hall. On paper this isn't close to being one of the best Japanese Youth title bouts, but it's still an interesting one between two 22 year old fighters each looking to win their first professional titles and move their careers forward.
Of the two fighters it's Adachi who is more well known, has faced stiffer competition and is regarded as the more promising fighter. At 5'11" he's a tall Welterweight and having debuted as a 17 year old in 2015 he's also someone who has been training as a professional for years. In fact there was a lot of buzz about him in 2017, when he reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final as a 19 year old. Although he lost in the Rookie of the Year final the loss was regarded as a learning experience and with Hiroki Ioka guiding his career he was expected to go on to bigger and better things. Sadly those bigger and better things haven't yet come for Adachi, who lost in a Japanese Youth title fight in 2019 against Kudura Kaneko and then really struggled to get going again.
In 2020 Adachi moved from the Hiroki Ioka Boxing gym to the Ohashi boxing gym, moving from Osaka to Kanagawa in the process, and it was assumed Ohashi would guide the talented youngster to success. Sadly however Adachi has had several bouts cancelled since signing with the Ohashi gym, and as a result he's now been out of the ring since December 2019.
In the ring Adachi has shown himself to be a rangy, tall, long boxer. He towers over many of his opponents and presses forward behind his jab, which he uses to try and create chances to land a big right hand. He's defensively quite open, appears to lack genuine crispness in his work, but is young, strong and big. Notably however the move to the Ohashi gym, and more than a year out of the ring, is likely to have polished off a lot of issues with Adachi and the key question coming into this is "how much has he improved since his last bout?" We suspect he will always be a flawed, but aggressive boxer-puncher, however we also know that his team will be working on those flaws.
Whilst Adachi has long been regarded as a genuine prospect the same can't be said for Kobata, who also debuted in 2015, as a 17 year old. In fact Kobata debuted as a Featherweight back in late 2015, and suffered a TKO loss on debut. Amazingly Kobata began his career 0-2-1 after 3 bouts and it was fair to assume his career was going no where. Credit however has to go to Adachi who buckled down hard and went on to reach the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing in the final at Lightweight to Kosuke Arioka. Since then his body has filled out and he has moved to Light Welterweight and more recently Welterweight.
Early in his career Kobata looked very basic. He came to fight, but that was about as polite as we could be. He was a come forward southpaw, who marched in straight lights, let his hooks go and had very limited defensive skills or boxing intelligence. It made him fun to watch, but also saw him lose 3 of his first 9 bouts. Since then however he has matured, he has developed and despite still being limited he certainly appears to be more durable in recent years. Now-a-days he neutralises pressure better, he uses his southpaw jab and he knows what he's doing in the ring. In is most recent bout, against Shoki Sakai, he proved to be a crafty fighter, and a tough one and showed enough to genuinely run Sakai close. Although he has lost 2 of his last 4, it needs to be noted that he's not as bad as his record suggests.
On paper Adachi should be the favourite. He's the bigger man, the more highly regarded fighter and the man with the better record. We have no issue with Adachi being regarded as the favourite, and we suspect that if he can use his jab and reach well here he should be able to take a clear decision with a safety first gameplan.
However with the ring rust and the change in gyms we do wonder just how good Adachi will look here, and if Kobata gets off to a good start, makes the most of his southpaw stance and continues to show the improvements he has in recent years, we suspect he could be a genuine banana skin here.
Although we do think Adachi should be the favourite, we don't think he'll actually win here, and instead we're calling the upset. We suspect the work rate of Kobata, as well as his recent activity will play a major factor here and he will manage to squeak a razor thin decision.
Prediction - Kobata SD8
Despite a number of interesting fighters, and a lot of potentially intriguing match ups, the Japanese Welterweight division doesn't get much attention. That's despite fighters like Ryota Yada, Yuki Beppu, Yuki Nagano and Giraffe Kirin Kanda all being worthy contenders on the domestic scene.
Arguably the most interesting Japanese Welterweight bout we'll see this year isn't actually at the top of the table, so to speak, but will instead be this Sunday's Japanese Youth title fight. The bout will pit unbeaten champion Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6) against once beaten Ioka protege Rikuto Adachi (12-1, 9). Both men have just turned 21, and could have waited years to face each other, but instead want to face off, knowing a win will instantly put them on the verge of a bout for the full version of the Japanese title.
Kaneko is a Japanese based Afghan born boxer-puncher. He left Afghanistan as a child and has really built himself a life in Japan whilst getting plaudits for his attitude, and his dreams are certainly positive ones, with the fighter hoping to help get things built back in Afghanistan. Whilst his backstory is genuinely amazingly amazing, we can't help but be impressed by his actual boxing career as well.
Kaneko made his debut all the way back in 2015, as a 17 year old, and showed real ability early on as a punching, scoring stoppages in 4 of his first 5. Since then he has gone 5-0 (3) and shown more and more to his. He has taken 2 decision wins over Change Hamashima, claiming the Japanese youth title in the second win. The biggest win of his career however came last November, when he stopped former Japanese champion Toshio Arikawain 3 rounds. That was a performance to be proud of, neutralising the power of Arikawa and then taking him out in very impressive fashion. Whilst Arikawa is no world beater, he's a very dangerous fighter and for Kaneko to take him out this early in his career was a huge statement. He's shown he can box, he can punch, he can bang. He's not the quickest, but he is very, very talented and very promising.
Adachi, like Kaneko, debuted in 2015 as a 17 year old but has gone a very different route to Kaneko. He would actually take decisions wins in his first 3 bouts, before growing into his strength and reeling off 5 straight stoppages to advance to the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2017. He would lose in the Rookie of the Year final to Hironori Shigeta, a very talented fighter himself, by a single round on 2 cards, and many felt he deserved the win. Since then he has reeled off 3 more stoppages, including a stoppage over Jonel Dapidran. Impressively he went 4-0 (4) in 2018, showing great activity, and has gone 9-1 (9) in his last 10 bouts, impressive given his first 3 went the distance.
In the ring Adachi is a fighter who looks naturally big, yet doesn't look like he fills out his frame, in fact it looks clear that he will be fighting at Light Middleweight, if not Middleweight, in the future. He's got decent hand speed and good movement, but is a little bit naive defensively. He doesn't have much of an inside game, though given his freakish looking size that's not much of a surprise. His jab is a razor sharp, a really nice punch that he varies, from snapping opponents with it, to touching them and controlling range. Watching him there's a lot to like, but a lot of areas where clear improvements can be made. If he added some boxing on the inside and tweaked his defense than there would be a lot to get very excited by.
If Kaneko hadn't impressed so much against Arikawa this would be a fight that Adachi would be the favourite. Problem us that Kaneko looked fantastic against Arikawa, and that maybe enough to swing the odds in his favour. Adachi looks like he's going to be very good, with some key areas to work on. If he uses his brain, fights to a gameplan that focuses on his speed, he should come out on top.
Kaneko is no push over, and is a more rounded fighter. He lacks the speed of Adachi, but looks to be the more natural fighter. If he can make this a fight we suspect he'll win.
This is a hard one to call, and a very, very interesting match up. If pushed for a prediction, we suspect Adachi gets the win in a very close decision. The bout is in Osaka, and he's the local prospect. We wouldn't be surprised by any result at all here though. It's one of those bouts that really could go any which way.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.