In 2012 Japan's Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) claimed Japan's first boxing Olympic medal in 44 years as he took a bronze medal at Bantamweight. After missing out on a place in the Japanese Olympic team for the 2016 Olympics Shimizu turned professional and raced away to the OPBF Featherweight title, claiming the regional title in his 4th bout, having been a professional for less than 13 months. This coming Monday he'll be making his second defense of that title, as he takes on little known Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3) at the Korakuen Hall.
The champion has been raced through the ranks, though turning professional at 30 years old he really didn't have the option of taking things slowly. He debuted in a 6 rounder, immediately moved up to 8 rounders then in just his 4th bout won his first title, stopping Sa Myung Noh in 5 rounds last October.
Although Shimizu has a very strong amateur background, with a reported 150-20 (70) record and is a 2-time Olympian, his style doesn't match that of an accomplished amateur. In fact his style is incredibly unique yet rudimentary. He makes for a pretty stationary fighter who throws wild, looping shots with venom on them. He can box and move but often often holds his feet and relies on his freakish power and size. Given he's a 5′ 10½″ southpaw fighting at Featherweight he really does pose some very unique nightmares in terms of size, stance and angles.
Watching Shimizu, he looks easy to out box, he looks slow, wild and sloppy. It's a very awkward style but one that has been effective. Despite his flaws Shimizu has hardly lost a round through his career so far and he has stopped his first 5 foes in a combined 21 rounds. His longest bout to date has gone 7 rounds and he looked very comfortable in terms of stamina in that bout, suggesting he could do longer, if an opponent can survive his power.
As we've managed to see most of Shimizu's bouts to date, and know of his amateur background, there is a lot that we do know about the champion. The same cannot be said of the challenger, who debuted more than 7 years ago but has been, like many Koreans, struggling with consistent activity and in getting bouts against name opponents. He debuted back in December 2010, losing, and was out of the ring for over 6 years, before suffering a second loss on his ring return. A 3 fight stoppage run followed as he reeled 5 straight wins, before coming up short against Sung Min Cha last September. A rematch with Cha saw Kwon take a majority decision to avenge his most recent loss.
There is very little footage of Kwon available, and we've yet to come across a full fight of his. Given that we don't recall seeing much of him it's hard for us to know what he fights like, however from his record, and the little bit of footage out there, we can deduce a few things. Firstly he's not a big puncher. Whilst 50% of his wins are by stoppage they have come against very limited domestic level novices, and all of them have come in rounds 3 or 4. His stamina is to be questioned, given he has never been scheduled in a bout longer than 8 rounds. From the little footage that is out there he looks, like many Koreans, to be an aggressively minded fighter looking to have a tear up on the inside. He will be giving away size, power, reach, speed and skills to Shimizu and will really struggle with the variety and unorthodox angles that Shimizu finds.
Whilst the Korean has never previously been stopped he has spent much of his career at Super Bantamweight, and on the Rookie circuit in Korea. This is a massive step up in class and it's very hard to imagine him taking Shimizu's looping bombs for long, before becoming the Japanese fighter's 6th straight stoppage victim. Kwon might put up a gutsy fight, but from what we know of the two men it won't be a competitive one, as Shimizu continues to march towards a potential world title fight.
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.