The Super Bantamweight division is one of the most interesting in Japan right now, with two world champion, a really exciting national champion, a number of rising prospects and some top class contenders. This coming Wednesday we'll see two Japanese Super Bantamweights trading blows for the OPBF title, and the potential to meet one of the world's best prospects.
The bout in question will see OPBF Super Bantamweight Hidenori Otake (28-2-3, 12) defending the title for the first time, as he defends the crown against veteran Kinshiro Usui (27-5, 11) in a well matched all-Japanese bout. Whilst it's clear neither man is a spring chicken, with a combined age of 73, it's also clear that neither fighter can really afford a loss at this point in their career.
Of the two men Otake is the more well known. In 2012 he claimed the Japanese title, beating Takafumi Nakajima, and he went on to defend that title 4 times before vacating it in 2014, as he got a crack at Scott Quigg and the WBA world title. Although Otake came up short against Quigg, scarcely winning a round, he proved his toughness and his incredible engine going 12 rounds against the Englishman and rarely taking a backwards step.
Since losing to Quigg we've seen Otake go 6-0 (3), with a win over Jelbirt Gomera last time out for the OPBF title. During his 6 fight winning run that was the only win of real note, and the only bout at Super Bantamweight, following a short flirtation at Featherweight.
At his best Otake is a tough, rough and energetic fighter. He's not the quickest, the heaviest handed or the most skilled, but his will to win is second to none and it will take something very special to slow his charge forward.
Aged 37 Kinshiro Usui is a name many won't be familiar with, at all, despite the fact he's had a 15 year career and holds wins of note against the likes of Mike Tawatchai, Nobuhisa Coronito Doi, Masaaki Serie and Hikaru Marugame. He fought regularly between 2002 and 2011 before walking away from the ring for more than 3 years. In 2014 he began an unexpected comeback and reeled off 6 straight wins before losing last time out in a razor thin decision to Hisashi Amagasa, in a bout many felt he deserved.
Talented, and with a steely toughness, Usui is a solid boxer. Sadly at 37 his time is running out, and it's a shame it's taken more than 8 years for him to get his second shot at a title. He's got under-rated skills, decent speed for someone his age and real hunger, with it being clear that this could be his final shot at silverware.
On paper it's really against Usui here. He's older, smaller, less proven, less experienced and the lighter puncher. However he's coming in with little pressure on his shoulders and he will clearly be the under-dog.
We'd love to see Usui win here, it'd be a great way for him to end his career. Saying that however it's hard to bet against Otake, who has proven his title ability and will likely be too busy and too physical for the smaller, Usui.
Interestingly the winner of this is booked in to defend the title later in the year, against the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta in what could be the coming out party of the next Japanese boxing superstar.
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.