The Oriental Light Middleweight scene is a bit of a mess at the moment, with the Oriental title being passed around as it looks for a steady champion to take the belt forward. Since Charles Bellamy vacated the title more than 4 years ago it has had 5 champions, and only a single successful defense. It has been vacated by Koji Numata and lost by Dennis Laurente, Takayuki Hosokawa and Yutaka Oishi.
Now that's not to say there's no good Oriental fighters at 154lbs, but no one seems to be chasing the Oriental title, which is currently held by limited Thai Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6). The Thai will be making his first defense this coming Sunday as he takes on the biggest name in Japanese boxing, well actually the longest, Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-4, 8). The bout will be Petagine's first title bout and could see the title change hands, once again.
The Thai won the title earlier this year, when completed one of the biggest comebacks in recent memory and stopped Oishi in the 12th round whilst 11, 5 and 3 points behind. That win was a second successive one for Ratchasi who beat Cobra Suwa last December, avenging his most recent loss. Interestingly the Thai's only other losses are a decision to the unbeaten Atchariya Virotesunobon and Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida.
Ratchasi is limited, no one would suggest other wise. However he showed last time out that there is no quit in him and he's a long way removed from the fighter who was 4-2 (3). He can hit, he can take a shot, and he keeps coming, refusing to give up until the final bell. Oishi out boxed him with relative ease, but in the end the Thai's stamina and will to win were too much, and it's clear that if a fighter can't get him out of there early, he's going to be on the front foot in the later stages looking ti turn a bout around, and he hits hard enough to do just that.
Aged 29 Petagine is coming in to his prime though he's a real unknown in many ways. He claimed his most significant win almost 4 years ago, winning the 2013 “Rookie of the Year” crown at 140lbs. That win saw Petagine move to 8-1 (7) and look like he was set for an interesting career. Sadly however he has gone 2-3 (1) since then, split a series of close decisions with Shohei Kanemoto, losing to Valentine Hosokawa, being stopped by Jay Solmiano and beating a Thai novice. Hardly the form of an Oriental title contender.
Through his career Petagine has fought mostly at Light Welterweight, a genuine achievement given that he's more than 6'0” tall. His body shouldn't struggle to fill into a Light Middleweight, but his power is unlikely to carry up, and against Solmiano it was clear that he didn't like taking shots from a big punching Welterweight, though he did get stopped standing after taking some huge bombs. His body may have filled out a bit more, and he may be more physically developed than he was against Solmiano but it's still going to take a career best performance to win here.
With so many title changes in recent years it's almost like we'd expect Ratchasi to lose the belt here. The reality though is that he should be favoured here, and he should have the power to stop Petagine. Saying that Petagine does have power himself, and if he's got some self belief he may well score the upset.
Our prediction a stoppage for the Thai, but the bout is a hard one to call with neither man being hugely proven, or particularly consistent.
n September 9th the boxing world focuses on the Super Flyweight division, as we get arguably the biggest day in the division's history, as 5 of the top fighters at the weight are all showcased on the same show in the US. The show, dubbed “Superfly” will feature WBO champion Naoya Inoue, WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, former 4-weight world champion Roman Gonalez, former WBC champion Carlos Cuadras and former Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada. It's a night that will put the division on the global boxing map, and could potentially make Inoue into the global star that his talent deserves.
Before that super show there will be a number of other notable Super Flyweight bouts, with the next of those taking place on July 19th as OPBF champion Rene Dacquel (19-6-1, 6) looks to extend his reign as champion. In the opposite corner will be Japanese contender Hayato Kimura (26-9, 17), who looks to score the biggest win of his career and upset a man who is enjoying a good run at the moment.
Filipino fighter Dacquel has been a professional since 2011 and has had mixed success, though seems to be maturing into a very capable Oriental level fighter, despite having struggled early in his career. Over his last 9 fights he has gone 7-2 scoring notable wins over Melvin Gumban, Lucky Tor Buamas, Go Onaga and Shota Kawaguchi, and only losing to fringe world class guys like Jonas Sultan and Takuma Inoue.
In the ring Dacquel is a talented and hungry fighter who is slowly, but surely, climbing up the rankings. He's no world beater, and no one would suggest he was, but he's a genuinely talented fighter on his way up, and in fairness he still has plenty of time to develop into a real contender given that he is only 26 and still has maturing and developing to do. If he continues to develop in the way he has done in recent years, and continues to rack up solid wins, he will be getting big opportunities in the near future.
Kimura has been a professional since 2005, having made his debut on his 16th birthday back in South Korea. Many of his early bouts took place outside of Japan, and at one point he looked like a genuine super prospect having gone 13-0 (8) whilst still a teenager. Sadly though he has never really built on that start and over the last 8 years he has struggled to get much going in his career. As a result he has lost to the likes of Brix Ray, AJ Banal, Martin Mubiru, Oleydong CP Freshmart, Marlon Tapales, Michael Dasmarinas, Sho Ishida and Kenta Nakagawa, with the losses to Ishida and Nakagawa coming in Japanese title fights.
Despite falling short against his best opponents it does seem like Kimura has the potential to score a decent win at title level. Unfortunately for him it would take a career best performance for him to match the skills of Dacquel. He has an edge in speed here, and is certainly an experienced fighter with, but is unlikely to have the movement, skills or power to ever really put Dacquel under the pressure he'd need to to take the title away.
We're expecting to see this be another successful defense for Dacquel, but a very hard fought and competitive one with the Filipino taking the fight on the score cards.
On February 9th Japanese fight fans in Tokyo get a title double header at the Korakuen Hall. The show isn't a big one, but it does feature one of the first OPBF title fights to take place in 2017, and sees a world ranked fighter defending his regional title.
That world ranked fighter is OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (15-3-1, 8), who is seeking his 3rd defense of the title, and extending a 4 fight winning run. In the opposite corner will be the the hungry Ryuto Araya (11-4-1, 3), who will be getting his first title fight.
Of the two men the most notable is Takenaka. He was a talented amateur, running up an excellent 73-13 (38) record in the unpaid ranks and was matched pretty hard from the off when he turned professional in 2008. After going 7-0-1 (4) early in his career Takenaka took on Masayuki Wakimoto and suffered his first loss, before suffering a second straight setback as he came undone against former world champion Ryol Li Lee. A 4-fight winning run followed before Takenaka was beaten in an OPBF title fight by Hisashi Amagasa, being stopped in the final round whilst ahead on all 3 cards.
Since suffering such a heart breaking loss to Amagasa we've seen Takenaka really build a a nice little run. He beat Junki Sasaki in his ring return before stopping Filipino veteran Vinvin Rufino for the OPBF title and has defended it against Akira Shino and Randy Braga, easily out boxing Braga.
In the ring Takenaka is a talented boxer with under-rated sting on his shots. He's not a puncher, but his KO of Rufino was genuinely brilliant and he's a good all rounder. His weakness seems to be his somewhat suspect chin, and that will likely hold him from being world class, but stoppage losses to Amagasa and Lee are nothing to be ashamed of. At 31, he turns 32 in May, he is probably in the final stages of his career but he will know that if he keeps defending his Oriental title a major international fight might be on the horizon in the future.
Whilst plenty is known about Takenaka not much is really known about Araya, with the Kanagawa man not really making much of a splash so far. Like Takenaka he had an unbeaten run early in his career before suffering back-to-back defeats, falling from 4-0-1 to 4-2-1. Since then however things have been rather stop-start with Araya suffering stoppage losses to both Daisuke Watanabe and Takuya Yamaguchi, though the Yamaguchi loss was avenged last year. To date his best win is actually sandwiched between those loss, an upset win over Kazunori Takayama in July 2015.
Coming in to this bout Araya is riding a 3 fight winning streak, and appears to have found some belief in his punching ability with 2 stoppages in his last 3, as opposed to just 1 stoppage win in his previous 13 bouts. Despite showing that power this is a monstrous step up for him and it's hard to see him having the boxing skill, or punching power, to keep Takenaka on his toes.
We can't help but see this as another straight forward win for Takenaka, much like his defense against Shono. The two men are on totally different levels, and although Araya has shown some promise recently this is still a massive leap up in class. We wouldn't be surprised it Takenaka did however defend his title at this level for a little whilst whilst looking to move himself into a world title eliminator, rather than risk his ranking and title before being able to get a big bout.
Boxing has a number of fearsome punchers across all levels of the sport. At the elite level we of course have Gennady Golovkin and Servey Kovalev, as well as Shinsuke Yamanaka and Keith Thurman. At the Oriental level we have the thunderously heavy handed Keita Obara (13-1, 12) who seems to destroy what he hits time and time again.
On March 13th fans get the next chance to see Obara in action as he looks to make the second defence of his OPBF Light Welterweight title and over-come the relatively unknown Yuya Okazaki (11-7-1, 4), who is looking for the biggest win of his career.
Obara certainly isn't the biggest name at 140lbs though he is among the biggest punchers in the division and he certainly has vicious lights out power. As well as that power he has impressive skills, movement and speed. We're not going to try and make out that Obara is a slippery and wonderful counter puncher but he's a solid boxer-puncher with a lot of variety in his shots.
One thing Obara has that many of the other promising fighters in the division don't have is a loss. This was suffered on his debut when he came up short against Kazuyoshi Kumano. In that bout Obara showed his inexperience and appeared over-confident before blowing his wad and being stopped out on his feet. Since that bout however the Japanese fighter has developed significantly with his pacing and stamina.
There are still flaws in what Obara does. His right hand can be rather wide at times and he does drop his left hand more than he should. With his power, movement and counter-punching ability he does punish opponents if they fail to make him pay for his mistakes. And when we say makes them pay we really mean it, as seen when he iced Shinya Iwabuchi last year with a thundering combination in the 12th round of their bout last year. Incidentally it was the bout with Iwabuchi that answered a number of questions regarding Obara's stamina.
Unfortunately we don't know much about Okazaki who is, genuinely, one of the most obscure OPBF title challengers we've seen recently. His record suggests he's nothing special with 7 losses in 19 fights and unfortunately for him it's not just the numbers that suggest his limitations but also his opposition. In fact with losses to Shoji Kawase, a debuting Accel Sumiyoshi, Kazuya Maruki and, more recently a stoppage loss to Hayato Hokazono it's hard to see what Okazaki has in his locker. In fact having gone 3-5 in his last 8 we really do wonder what “qualifies” him as a challenger.
Notably the 3-5 run of Okazaki in his last 8 does included his best win to date, a very close decision win over Daiki Koide. That, on paper, is a solid win though we can't imagine Koide being any threat at all to Obara so a narrow win over him tells us little about how Okazaki would cope with Obara.
Even though we view him as a major under-dog there are a few interesting little details about Okazaki which are worth making a note of. Firstly he's one of the few fighters that will be taller than Obara Light Welterweight, stood at 5'11” Okazaki is a tall fighter and boasts a ½″ height advantage over Obara. He is also a southpaw which could give Obara some issues, however he won't the first southpaw to face Obara who has already faced 4 southpaws, including Iwabuchi and Jay Solmiano.
Everything about this fight points towards an easy, mid-round stoppage for Obara who is too powerful, too proven and too good for Okazaki. On the other hand there is one question about the champion, how easily does he make 140lbs? We suspect this could be his last fight at the weight before he makes a permanent move to 147lbs where he will be more comfortable than he is at 140lbs.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last year we saw Japanese Lightweight Masayoshi Nakatani (9-0, 5) break through in a big way. He began the year with a win over Yoshitaka Kato to claim the OPBF Lightweight title and later went on to climb into the world rankings whilst defending his belt twice. We won't pretend that Nakatani set the world on fire but he did impress as he easily out pointed Ricky Sismundo in his first defence and then almost shut out Futoshi Usami in his second defense.
The 3 wins for Nakatani last year took him from “Ioka prospect” to “world ranked contender” it was as good a break through year as the Osaka native could have wished for. Whilst he hasn't stopped an opponent in his 3 bouts he had earned 36 rounds of valuable experience, matured as a fighter and developed his skills massively.
When we first saw Nakatani he looked like a tall, rangy Lightweight who gave up his height to beat people up. Despite being almost 6' he was a fighter who loved tagging the body and completely destroyed Shuhei Tsuchiya with body shots alone. Since then he has developed his skills become a more pure boxer-puncher who now uses his reach and uses his height to fight on the outside where he can establish his jab and move around the ring. In many his style has helped set the groundwork for other Ioka fighters such as Sho Ishida and Takeru Kamikubo who fight in a similar manner to Nakatani, using their height and speed.
Although not yet a big name in regards to where he stands at the Ioka gym we suspect Nakatani will have the ability to become a world champion and follow in the footsteps of Kazuto Ioka and Ryo Miyazaki. It may not be soon but his intentions are to reach that level. His next to world title fights will be his 3rd defence of the OPBF title and will see him battle against the little known Accel Sumiyoshi (4-3-1, 1) on April 5th
Sumiyoshi isn't a big name fighter, his record isn't flawless and he isn't a sensational Lightweight. He is however a fighter who has been matched incredibly hard since his debut back in 2012. To date his opponents have had a combined record of 95-43-9 and it's little wonder he has lost a few bouts considering he has gone up against fighters like Kento Matsushita, a former multi-time Japanese and former OPBF title challenger, Yuhei Suzuki, a 2-time Japanese title challenger, and Kota Tokunaga, who battles for the Japanese title later this month.
Footage of Sumiyoshi is certainly not easy to come by but ringside reports of his bout with Leonardo Doronio, who he fought to a draw last December, suggest the bout was a slugfest with both showing fantastic work rate. Also in his past he has gone up against tall fighters, notably Kota Tokunaga who managed to take a split decision win over Sumiyoshi last year. That experience will help Sumiyoshi however we have Tokunaga being a level, if not two, below Nakatani.
Coming into this fight the pressure is on the champion not to just win but to shine and that's what we're expecting with Nakatani easing himself into the fight behind his jab before making a statement later in the fight with a stoppage. If he can do that then we expect to see him move on to a world ranked foe later in the year and then work his way towards a world title fight in either late 2015 or early 2016.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
At the turn of the year we saw Ryosuke Iwasa vacate the OPBF Bantamweight title as he turned his attention on to claiming a world title belt. As a result of Iwasa vacating the belt we've seen a bout set up to find his successor and on March 5th we'll see the vacant title end up in the hands of either Takahiro Yamamoto (15-3, 12) or Yu Kawaguchi (22-6, 10). The bout may not pit the best Bantamweights in Asia against each other, in fact those involved aren't even the best Bantamweights in Japan, but as a stand alone bout this is an immensely interesting contest.
Of the two men it's Yamamoto who is the lower profile fighter but the more exciting of the two. He's an Ioka gym fighter who punches like a mule and despite being technically flawed is a must watch fighter when he's in the ring. Sadly for those wanting to watch him, much of the footage of him in action has been deleted from the internet, leaving us with only his bout against Kiron Omura, from very early in his career.
Yamamoto made his debut back in 2008 and in a little more than a year he had raced to 5-0 (5). Sadly when he hit the bricks, he hit them hard and quickly fell to 6-3 (5) as he came across opponents he couldn't just take out. Even though Yamamoto had lost his perfect record he hadn't been out classed and only suffered losses, all 3 of which were close, to decent fighters such as Hideo Sakamoto and Jerope Mercado.
Since those losses Yamamoto has been in great form running up 9 straight wins with the most notable of those being a decision over Danilo Pena and a 2nd round TKO against Ippei Aoki.
Blessed with power, a solid chin, an aggressive nature and exciting style Yamamoto is a real threat, especially when he hits opponents clean. As well as the power he has been improving his skills in recent years and although still a flawed fighter he had developed into a solid boxer-puncher.
As for Kawaguchi he's more notable of the two fighters given that he has fought for the Japanese Bantamweight title, coming up short against Kentaro Masuda last year. On paper that's his most notable bout though he has also been in with Yasutaka Ishimoto and Jerope Mercado, losing to both of those.
On paper Kawguchi does have a muddied record however he has gone 16-2 (8) in the last 6 years and has rebuilt his career in fantastic fashion. We won't pretend a sensational fighter but at 28 years old he is in his prime and he's seemingly in his groove as a professional. When you consider his last two losses are to Ishimoto and Masuda there is nothing to be disappointed by and considering he's never been stopped he does look to be a credible title contender.
In the ring Kawaguchi is slightly more refined than we've seen Yamamoto, but he is relatively flat footed, a little bit predictable and basic. At the level he's been fighting at that's typically been enough though it was also why he lost to Masuda and Ishimoto. He's just been a bit too basic to beat them. Despite being basic Kawaguchi can grit his teeth and have a fight, something that we suspect he'll have to do here.
Given the fighters involved in this fight aren't the most rounded we're expecting a really fun to watch contest between two men who come to fight and know how to fight. Yamamoto certainly has the edge in power however Kawaguchi has proven his toughness and show that he can hang with heavy hitters, such as Masuda. That makes us think we could see this go the distance. With that said it's clear that this will be exciting and see both men being forced to take some heavy blows.
Although we see feel Kawaguchi ts the more technically rounded he so slow that we feel Yamamoto will take the decision based on his power and his eye catching shots. It will however be a very competitive and exciting contest.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Super Bantamweight division has frustrated us immensely over the last few years on the international stage with a lot of fighters failing to meet chase the biggest and best fights available to them. Sadly what we've seen is champions regularly defending against sub-quality competition and this served as bit of a bottle neck at the top of the division with several interesting fighters now lining for an opportunity.
One of those fighters waiting for a shot at the big time is Japan's Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10), the current OPBF champion and a man who is ranked by all 4 major title bodies. At the end of February we see Wake back in the ring as he attempts to record the 5th defence of the OPBF title and take another step towards getting a long awaited world title shot. The man trying to destroy Wake's dreams is Filipino fighter Jimmy Paypa (16-2-1, 6), a man who was actually supposed to fight wake at the end of 2014.
Wake's road to where he is has been a relatively long one. For the first 6 years of his career he toiling some what and compiled a relatively disappointing record of 12-4-2 (5). Up to that point his most notable win was a decision over Jonathan Baat and he wasn't expected to achieve what his team had once hoped. Suddenly in 2013 however things began to click for Wake who upset Yukinori Oguni to claim the OPBF title and since then he has been on a role with 4 successive defenses, all by stoppage, with the most recent of those coming against Jaesung Lee in July of last year.
Wake's development was unforeseen by many though has seen him become better and better as he's become more confident and shown more belief in both his skills and his power. In fact it's the development of Wake's power which has been key with the fighter stopping his last 5 opponents, the same amount that he had stopped in his first 18 bouts as a professional.
For those who haven't seen the champion in action he is a talented sharpshooter and although his power has improved he is still slippery and sharp fighter capable of throwing both power shots and flicky combinations with out telegraphing. More frustratingly for opponents he does it from the southpaw stance which makes him even more tricky than he would be anyway.
Although we've followed Wake for a while the same cannot be said of Paypa who is, at just 21 years old, a very promising young fighter himself. In fact in the eyes of those who have seen him he should be undefeated with both of his career defeats coming very early and controversially. Sadly for those of us who didn't get to see him live the footage of Paypa is limited with much of it coming from very early in his career.
Since starting 2-2 in his career Paypa has run up 15 bouts with out a loss. Those 15 bouts, including a technical draw, haven't come against the best but they do include a very impressive stoppage victory over the teak tough Eric Barcelona as well as decisions over Marvin Tampus and the then promising Jason Redondo. Sadly however there are negatives to take from Payapa's form. Notably he has been fighting at a very low level leaving us to be unsure how good he is. Second he has been dropped twice in his last 5 bouts with both Cristian Abila and Gadwin Tubigon dropping Paypa early in fights before he fought back to beat them. He was also, sadly, limited to a technical draw against Tsuyoshi Tameda in his only previous bout in Japan, last May.
From watching early footage of a very young Paypa it's clear he had a lot of potential. He was sharp and looked like a genuine diamond in the rough. Sadly however we haven't managed to track down much in terms of recent footage. To us it seems however that his competition says more about him than any footage could and his handlers know that this is a big step up. We suspect it will be too big of a step, however we think Paypa will be back in a few years time and possibly fighting at the OPBF level again in the future.
We suspect that this isn't going to be Paypa's time isn't now and Wake will do to Paypa what he did with Oguni and show the different between a talented and promising “boy” and a developed, and highly skilled, “man”. Like Oguni however we expect Paypa to take his loss well and to develop into a much better fighter down the line.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Some bouts look like mismatches from the moment they are signed to the moment they end. Other bouts however look brilliant from the second they are made to the moment the winner has their hand raised. One bout we suspect will go in the second category is this Saturday's OPBF Super Featherweight title bout that looks like the first mouth watering fight of 2015 and potentially one of the best bouts of the year.
Going into the bout the champion is Thailand's unbeaten Jomthong Chuwatana (8-0, 4) a Muay Thai fighter who is also considered on of Thailand's best boxers. He is powerful, skilled, intelligent in the ring, tough and appears to be very aware of what is happening every moment he is in the ring. We won't pretend he is a KO artist or the fastest man in the division but he is a very complete fighter at both close range and at distance.
Whilst the champion is talented and strong so to is the challenger, Daiki Kaneko (21-3-3, 14), himself a former world title challenger and a former Japanese champion. Like the champion Kaneko isn't the fastest nor is the heaviest handed fighter in the division but he's built like a rock, brings action and pressure and is very highly skilled.
What we're expecting here is a battle between Jomthong's powerful boxing and his intelligent movement and the pressure and strength of Kaneko. Though even that is really simplifying what is likely to be a bout that has it's twists, turns and moments of magic.
Jomthong first won the title way back in May 2012 when he stopped South Korea's teak tough Dong-Hyuk Kim, who had a grotesquely swollen face. Since then he has defended it 3 times with decision wins over Ranel Suco, Ronald Pontills and Koseki Nakama. Although he hasn't scored a stoppage since he won the title has continued to show his impressive boxing which has seen scarcely losing a round, in fact the one clear round he lost came against Nakama, when the Thai was dropped.
Trying to box with Jomthong is typically a mistake. He's defensively very good, sharp with his punches and his jab is exceptional, in fact his jab is the key to a lot of his offense and allows him to both box and move or come inside and use his physical strength as well as crisp work on the inside.
Kaneko, like Jomthong, likes to work off the jab though often appears happier up close than at distance and has blistering shots up close even if he does look little bit slow when he tries to set some of his attacks up. The scary thing about Kaneko isn't his “boxing” ability however, instead it's his physicality and despite fighting at Super Featherweight he looks like a monster. It's that physicality that allowed him to give Takashi Uchiyama a really tough bout at the end of 2013 and it's the same trait that would give anyone in the division time.
Defensively Kaneko isn't as intelligent as Jomthong though he's every bit as talented, as strong as hurtful with his blows.
In many ways we suspect these two will look like a mirror image of each other. They will both be trying to use their jabs to open up the other man, they will both be looking to come inside following their sharp jabs and they will both be willing to let shots go on the inside. The only real differences between the two are minor. Jomthong is better defensively whilst Kaneko is more physical, Jomthong appears to be slightly quicker whilst Kaneko appears the more powerful. With that in mind we suspect this one will be a very close bout and wouldn't be surprised by a razor thin decision either way.
Although we can't pick a winner in this fantastic match we do suspect that whoever comes out on top will fight for a world title later this year. Amazingly we do give both fighters a real chance at world level and wouldn't be hugely surprised to see both men winning world titles in the future.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Light Middleweight division is certainly one where Asian fighters have failed, at least in recent years, to make their make internationally. Long gone are the days of Ki Soon Kim, Koichi Wajima, Jae Doo Yuh and Masashi Kudo. Despite that the OPBF Light Middleweight title is a treasured title with a rich history that dates back to the 1960's and has been by held fighters like Tadashi Mihara, In Chul Baek, Yung-Kil Chung, Daniel Geale and Charlie Ota, who have used it to gain and establish world rankings.
At the moment the title is vacant though that is expected to change this coming Thursday when Japan's heavy handed Tadashi Yuba (46-9-2, 33) battles against Filipino Dennis Laurente (48-5-5, 29) in what promises to be an incredibly exciting contest between two men looking to add one more big win to their long records.
Of the two men it's Yuba who is better known and the easier man to get footage of. In fact in some ways Yuba is genuinely a celebrated fighter in Japan, having managed to win national titles in 5 weight divisions, from Lightweight to Middleweight, something no one else has done on the Japanese scene. Part of that success is his insane power whilst another part is his freakish size which has helped him climb through the weights.
Stood at 6” Yuba was a relative beanpole when he won the Japanese Lightweight title in the early part of the century. Since then he has filled out and although he still looks freakishly thin he still manages to hit with genuinely nasty power. As well as being heavy handed and freakishly rangy and tall Yuba is also a southpaw making him a nightmare to fight in yet another way.
Although a nightmare in many ways Yuba is also an incredibly flawed fighter who is offensively wild, defensively open and doesn't have the greatest of chins. We're not saying he's “chinny” per se but he's not made of granite and with his defensive liabilities this is a major issue, as seen in a number of his losses. Another issue is that he can be bullied around by a strong fighter and although he often has success on the back foot he can be made to look negative at times as he backs up looking for his powerful left hand. If a fighter can push back Yuba and prevent him from landing the left hand then Yuba is often in trouble,. Saying that however Yuba can fire back in a slugfest and win, as he did in a thriller with Carlos Linares.
There is a lot out there on Yuba and he has genuinely been in with a who's who of the Japanese boxing scene including the likes of Takayuki Hosokawa, Charlie Ota, Akinori Watanabe, Koji Watanabe and Motoki Sasaki. On the other hand Laurente isn't as well known, hasn't faced a similar level of competition and, although he is world ranked, he hasn't scored many wins that have really caught our attention.
Laurente's first break out win saw him claiming the OPBF Lightweight title when he beat the then unbeaten Yosuke Otsuka in Japan. His reign as the OPBF champion was long but lacked any real substance and it wasn't until 2006 that he scored another win of note, beating Rustam Nugaev. His next wins of note came against Zaid Zavaleta and Ben Tackie, both of whom are better known for their losses than their wins.
In recent years Laurente has seemed happier to pick up wins that genuinely achieve anything. As a result only 1 of his last 5 opponents, Khomkaew Sithsaithong, has actually had a winning record. Unsurprisingly he has stopped all 5 of them, with the last 3 ending via body shots, and you now need to go back more than 2 years to find his last notable opponent, Kenny Abril, who actually beat him with an 8 round split decision in the US.
At his absolute best Laurente was a good fighter, as seen in his narrow win over Chikashi Inada. However aged 37, the same age as Yuba, it's fair to say Laurente isn't what he once was and now a days his wins over weak foes see him fighting like a wild man confident that his over-matched foes have nothing to threaten him. It's hard to say if he will fight the same way against Yuba though we suspect he won't. Sadly though we think his recent level of competition will end up biting him in the backside when Yuba starts to find the range for his powerful straight lefts. We think Yuba will fight as a counter puncher and have real success on the back foot as Laurente comes in and is forced to eat clean shots as he neglects his own defence.
This could become a really entertaining war though at the end of it we think Laurente will suffer his first stoppage loss. It'll be fun until the end though we can only see the Japanese fighter winning this one. Unfortunately for Laurente his ambition seems to have waned to the point where we think he'll lack the fire needed to over-come Yuba.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
They say good things come to those who wait and the return to boxing of Jomthong Chuwatana (7-0, 4) is certainly a good thing, and a thing we've certainly had to wait for. In fact we've waited significantly longer than we'd have expected due to several out of the ring problems, non of which have been due to Jomthong.
Jomthong, a great Muay Thai fighter-turn boxer, quickly rose to the OPBF Super Featherweight title, a title he won by stopping South Korea's Dong-Hyuk Kim way back in May 2005. At that point in time Jomthong looked like he was going to be the next Thai boxing superstar. Since then though he has fought just 3 times defending his title twice. Unfortunately that inactivity has seen him being out of the ring since March 2013 and the OPBF title has been on ice since February 2013 when Ronald Pontillas challenged Jomthonng.
Jomthong is a fight who really does a lot of tools to go a long way. Not only does he have a fighters mentality, something that clearly comes from a long term Muay Thai career, but he also skills, heavy hands and a very relaxed style. He's like many Thai's in some ways, he's strong and comes forward a lot, though unlike many Thai's he actually has very good head movement and most impressively the ability to fight inside or outside, something many fighters world wide seem unable to do. He's not quite a complete boxer but he'll be a nightmare for anyone at 130lbs.
Whilst we should all know a bit about Jomthong we need to admit we don't know a lot about his opponent Koseki Nakama (17-4, 8). At one point, early in his career, he looked to be a fighter going places and in just his 7th professional bout be he defeated Antonio Cermeno, unfortunately a year later Aozora Nishida knocked out Nakama to take his previously unbeaten record. Interestingly the loss to the big punching Nishida is the only time Nakama has been stopped.
Following his first loss Nakama won his following 5 bouts before suffering a trio of losses, including a notable one to Hero Bando who was, at best, a fringe domestic contender albeit a tough one.
To date the best wins scored by Nakama have been the Moreno one, one over Ikuto Kobayashi and most recently a stoppage of Jose Ocampo. That's not to say he's a bad fighter but he's not proven himself to be anything special and in many ways he appears to have little chance of over-coming his talented Thai foe. Ranked #4 by the OPBF however he is a high ranked challenger, though one that the OPBF really have over-rated in our estimation.
We expect this to be fun. Jomthong is usually fun to watch combining skills, power and a relaxed aggression, though with Nakama being a bit of an unknown to us. With Jomthong having been inactive for so long he may start slowly though by the mid rounds we expect him to be landing his southpaw left hands regularly and eventually do enough damage to Nakama to force a stoppage.
(Image courtesy Okinawa World Boxing Gym)
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.