Some domestic title fights get a little bit more attention than others and we think the upcoming Japanese Bantamweight title fight might be one such contest. That's not because of reigning champion Kentaro Masuda (19-6, 10) who is genuinely an unknown outside of Japan but instead it's because of the challenger, the memorable and charismatic Konosuke Tomiyama (24-6-1, 8).
You might all remember Tomiyama for his Macau battle with Filipino Genesis Servania. That bout, fought last year, was thrilling with a contender for round of the year and also an outside runner for fight of the year. That bout saw 4 knock downs and genuinely stole the show.
If you have a better memory you may also remember Tomiyama gave the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Nobuo Nashiro a real scare, twice dropping Nashiro in another action packed bout.
Although Tomiyama has come up short in his two most notable bouts he has been involved in other notable bouts, including a very good win over Kuniyuki Aizawa and another win over Masamichi Nozaki. He will, however, be known for his losses which have generally come when he's faced the more notable opponents in his career.
Whilst not the greatest fighter on the planet Tomiyama is a lot of things a fight fan wants to see. He is interesting, charismatic, memorable, hits harder than his record indicates and is also enigmatic. He could go from pushing a world level fighter all the way in one fight to struggling over a limited Thai journeyman. This unpredictability must frustrating for his team but will always draw in fans interested in seeing what Tomiyama turns up for any given fight.
Masuda strikes us a more serious fighter. His record is sketchy with a handful of losses though he did suffer 3 of his 6 losses in his first 6 professional bouts. Since then he has knuckled down and developed into a very good little fighter winning 12 of his last 14. On paper that sounds good but it's even more impressive when you note that his those two losses came to Hidenori Otake and Ryosuke Iwasa, with the Iwasa bout being Masuda's first title bout.
In his last 5 fights Masuda has strung together a quintet of wins, including a title winning effort against Yu Kawaguchi last time. That bout was the most impressive we've seen from Masuda who boxed well against a competent opponent and, although he wasn't amazing, showed his skills and just how much they had improved over the years.
Masuda will be defending his belt for the first time and he will almost certainly be the under-dog against the more well known and taller Tomiyama. He will however go into the bout with real confidence of retaining his title and proving himself as one of the best Japanese Bantamweights out there, though admittedly he is a long way behind Shinsuke Yamanaka and Tomoki Kameda who are both world champions.
For us this is an incredibly hard bout to call. Masuda is certainly in great form, that can't be denied, however Tomiyama when he's on form is very difficult to beat. It really does depend on which Tomiyama turns up and if he's on song he's likely to take the title back to the Watanabe Gym with him. Odds are though that Tomiyama doesn't turn up for the fight and Masuda manages to continue his great run.
Whilst this is for the Japanese title it's also effectively an OPBF title eliminator. Masuda enters as the #1 OPBF ranked Bantamweight whilst Tomiyama is #5. With murmurs suggesting Iwasa is set to give up the OPBF belt the winner here is likely to get a sot at the vacant title next year, or, if Iwasa doesn't vacate, a shot at Iwasa next year. It's clear there is a big reward for a win here.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym/Dangan boxing)
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.