On September 21st Japan's Shintaro Matsumoto (14-6, 10) will get a chance to become am 2-weight OPBF champion, as he takes on hard hitting Australian Aaron Lai (10-4, 9), the current OPBF Light Heavyweight champion. On paper the bout looks very competitive, with neither man being a world beater, but how do we see the bout?
Of the two men the one we know best is Matsumoto. The 33 year old, currently fighting out of the Watanabe Gym though previously of the Yonekura Gym, is one of the few Japanese fighters to have made a bit of a name at Super Middleweight. Sadly though his career at 168lbs was over-shadowed by hard hitting contemporary Yuzo Kiyota, who would defend he OPBF title against Matsumoto in 2012 then claim the vacant title with a second win over Matsumoto in 2013. It wasn't until 2016 that Matsumoto got some revenge by taking the regional title off his shop worn nemesis with a technical decision. By then Kiyota was looking very much a washed up fighter. Sadly for Matsumoto his reign was short, losing the title to Jayde Mitchell in his first defense.
Since losing to Mitchell Matsumoto has fought twice. Defeating a limited Thai and losing to Reagan Dessaix. At his best Matsumoto wasn't really the best in Japan. He had respectable power, and was accurate enough, but lacked durability, lacked vicious power and lacked speed. With 4 stoppage losses from his 20 career bouts we know he doesn't take a show well, and with his lack of speed that is a double problem. He can be hurt, and usually can't escape from the follow up attacks.
At 35 years old Lai is likely coming to the end of his career, a career that only started in 2011. He would win his first 6 bouts, 5 by stoppage, before suffering a drop in form, losing 3 in a row and 4 out of 5. Those losses weren't the most humiliating, losing to Jayde Mitchell and Peng Qu among others, but they did show up his flaws and saw him being dropped a number of times. It seemed that whilst he could hurt opponents he could also be hurt himself. Since those losses he has bounced back with 3 wins, all by stoppage, including his OPBF title win last year and his first victory.
Although a puncher Lai has been down in a number of fights. He's yet to be stopped, but with all the times he's been knockdown it's obvious that he's not that durable and a stoppage loss is just around the corner. He's very much a flawed fighter, and it's going to take a very good match maker on his side to let him have a lengthy reign as the champion.
We know both guys are limited. Both are very flawed. When that happens it's hard not to favour the one with the more bang. As a result we fancy Lai to come out on top and score a stoppage, though we wouldn't be surprised to see him needing to pull himself off the canvas to stop Matsumoto in what could be an entertaining, if low skilled, contest.
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.