This coming Tuesday we'll see Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (19-1, 11) defending his two regional titles. He'll be making the 4th defense of the OPBF Heavyweight title and the third defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title, as he takes on limited Thai puncher Suthat Kalalek (12-9, 11). For the Japanese fighter it's another opportunity to advance his career and to rack up an extra defense of his two titles, whilst the Thai gets a second OPBF title fight, after having come up short in a Super Middleweight title bout back in 2015.
Of the two men it's Kyotaro who is the more well known, by a long way. The Japanese Heavyweight is a former K1 fighter who has shaken up the Japanese boxing scene by being a notable Heavyweight, the first notable Japanese born fighter in the division's history. His success has seen him become only the second ever Japanese Heavyweight champion, resurrecting a title which had been dead for more than 50 years, and going on to defend the belt 3 times before unifying it with the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific titles.
In the ring Kyotaro doesn't really fight like a typical Heavyweight. He's a small fighter for the division, standing at just 6'0 and weighing around 228lbs. Instead of being someone who will bring the fight to an opponent he's often a fighter who uses his speed and movement to out box and counter punch bigger, stronger, slower fighters. Early on in his career that saw him having mixed success, with a notable loss in his 6th professional bout against Solomon Haumono. In more recent times however it's been a tactic which has worked well and allowed him to keep his suspect chin safe whilst tiring out, and then stopping, lesser foes.
The Thai on the other hand isn't really anyone of any major note. He's better known as Kajornsak Sithsaithong or Kajornsak Saikaew Boxing Camp, and the 23 year old is one of the few men who will make Kyotaro look big. Stood at 5'7” Suthat is a blown up Middleweight who has lost to every notable name he has faced. That include Shintaro Matsumoto, Yuzo Kiyota and Vikas Singh. In fact his only win of any note came against the over-weight and out of shape Yamata Fujinaka, who came in at a career high 248.5lbs for his bout with the Thai.
Although limited the visitor can bang, and did drop Kiyota, but that power isn't going to carry up to Heavyweight. Instead it's going to be clear he's not suited to Heavyweight. In a way he could give Kyotaro fits by using his own speed and using his lack of natural lack of size to his advantage. The reality however is that he's unlikely to have the power, strength or style to test the champion. Instead we suspect that Kyotaro will look to make a statement and see off the Thai fighter within 6 or 7 rounds, maximum, in what is a very clear mismatch.
Fingers crossed that if Kyotaro wins his next defense will be against a more compelling foe, such as Zhang Zhilei or Zhang Junlong.
The OPBF title is seen as a major stepping stone for many fighters in the Oriental region. It's the Asian equivalent to the European title and is a belt that many of the region's top fighters win before moving on to world level. Current world champions such as Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka have both claimed the title in recent times as have so many others.
Sadly however the OPBF belt really isn't valued very highly in the higher weights and the Super Middleweight title has essentially been ignored year after year. For much of the last decade only one man has shown a real desire to hold it and hold it he has, for around 7 years through multiple reigns.
That man is hard hitting Japanese fighter Yuzo Kiyota (27-4-1, 25).
Kiyota is best known not for his reign as the OPBF champion but instead his 2013 world title challenge of Robert Stieglitz. That bout saw Kiyota suffer his most recent loss but get the chance to fight at the top of the sport in what was a very notable match up, as it always is when we see Japanese fighters competing at the higher weights.
Although not the most skilled Kiyota is a relatively solid fighter. He's not quite a fringe world guy but he's heavy handed enough for fighters to avoid rather than chase for the title. He's limited skill wise but has serious power, he improving after every fight and looks to be a much better fighter than he once was. Early on he was a wild and free swinging fighter, looking for the early victories though he has managed to develop his skills and is now more defensively sound than he once was.
On July 7th we see Kiyota defending his regional title again. It will be his second defense of his current reign, that began in December 2013, and his 7th defense in total across 2 reigns as the champion. Sadly however his opponent leaves a lot to be desired in what appears to be a horrible mismatch.
The champion will be putting his belt on the line against little known Thai Kajornsak Sithsaithong (7-5, 7). We know some Asian fighters have misleading records, especially Thai's, but Kajornsak's record does seem to reflect his ability pretty fairly, and that's not a good thing for the Thai.
Kajornsak comes into this bout with back-to-back losses, both suffered in China. Incidentally he is 0-4 outside of his native Thailand and is also 0-4 against fighters with a single win to their name, in fact his wins to date have come over opponents with a combined 0-1 record. To say he's not deserving of a title fight is really just stating the obvious.
Whilst his record and competition have been poor what's even more of an issue is his ability. Whilst we've only managed to come across footage from one of his fights, his 2014 bout with Back Kistkriengkrai, that footage sums up why his record is so poor. Back, a terrible fighter himself, seemed to out box Kajornsak in the opening round of their before mentally crumbling after being hit back and tiring himself out and being stopped whilst looking like a total novice. The finish not only showed how bad Back was but also how misleading Kajornsak's “KO rate” is.
From the footage of the two men there is only one outcome, Kiyota wins this by stoppage. There is nothing that Kajornsak appears to have in his locker that should trouble the champion who should feel disappointed if this goes beyond 8 rounds.
Hopefully when, not if, Kiyota wins he will then focus on getting a fight with a decent Australian, rather than more appalling challengers like Kajornsak and Abhay Chand before him.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
For those who haven't seen these two in action we've included footage of each man below.
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.