Last year we saw several fighters break out. One of those was Super Featherweight slugger Kenichi Ogawa (18-1, 15) who racked up 4 wins last year, 3 by stoppage, and claimed the Japanese title. Prior to last year Ogawa was a relative unknown, best known for winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2011, but by the end of the year he was a national champion and a world ranked fighter.
This coming Saturday we see Ogawa return to the ring to face his second challenger, veteran Kento Matsushita (34-9-7, 13), who has also fought under the name Kyohei Tamakoshi, and it's fair to say that the champion will be hoping for a better performance than he had last time out.
The 28 year old champion claimed his title last December, when he claimed a technical decision win over the previously unbeaten Rikki Naito. That was the break out win that Ogawa's team likely needed from him. Earlier this year he defended the title with a 9th round KO win against Satoru Sugita, however despite the win the champion looked less than great and seemed to be out boxed for swathes of the bout by Sugita.
At his best Ogawa is a big puncher who boxes on the move and has under-rated boxing ability. At his worst, and we think we saw his worst last time out, he's a crude and slow fighter who can't fight up close and can't adapt as a fight goes on.
Physically Ogawa is strong, powerful, fast and is improving. He's currently on a 10 fight winning run, he's avenged his sole loss, and has stopped 9 of his last 10 foes. His one loss, more than 4 years ago, was a major learning experience and since then he really has improved.
Aged 35 the challenger has been around the scene for a long time, debuting way back in 1999. His career has been up and down but he's become a staple of the Japanese rankings in recent years, despite once being 6-4-3 (4). His career turn around, of 28-5-4 has been genuinely impressive and has seen him mix with various notable names including Daiko Kaneko, Rikki Naito, Masaaki Serie and Wethya Sakmuangklang.
Matsushita's first title fight came in 2004, when he faced Yoshikane Nakajima for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, that ended in a technical draw. Since then he has fought for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, Japanese Super Bantamweight, the “interim” Japanese Super Bantamweight title, the WBC Youth World Super Featherweight title and the Japanese Super Featherweight title, twice.
Whilst we have typically seen Matsushita come up short we have seen him score some notable wins through his career. They have included victories over Nobuto Ikehara, Satoshi Niwa and most notably Dante Jardon.
Given his age this will probably be Matsushita's last title fight. Sadly for the challenger we suspect it end in the way many of his title fights have done, with him coming up short. We suspect a brave effect but Ogawa's youth, power and speed will be the difference maker in the end and the veteran probably won't see the final bell.
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.