This coming Tuesday we'll get a really good looking regional title bout, as OPBF Flyweight champion Giemel Magramo (26-2, 16-2, 21) takes on Japanese challenger Taku Kuwahara (10-1, 6) at the legendary Korakuen Hall. For Magramo the bout serves as he first defense of the title, which he won back in October 2021, whilst it also sees him return to the scene his of his most notable bout, a 2020 loss to Junto Nakatani. As for Kuwahara the bout will see him get a second title fight, following a loss to Japanese national champion Seigo Yuri Akui in 2021. For both the bout will not just be on for the prestigious OPBF title, but also for their future, with neither man really able to take another loss so soon after their losses to Nakatani and Akui.
Of the two men the more established is Magramo, the current Oriental champion and former world title challenger. The 28 year old is part of the third generation of fighting Magramo's, which includes his father Melvin Magramo, his grandfather Ric Magramo, his brother Arvin and uncles Renato, Ronnie and Alvin Magramo. Given he is from a long line of boxers it's fair to say the sport is in his blood, though unfortunately natural talent only takes a fighter so far, and Magramo is very much someone who would have really done better had his team focused on developing those ability with top training and good development fights. Instead of developing his natural abilities Magramo has become something of a hard hitting boxer-puncher who gets by based on his natural tools, rather than the development of them.
Since making his debut in 2012 Magramo has long been tipped as one to watch. Sadly however it wasn't until his 15th fight that he faced someone of some value, in Jeny Boy Boca. His next bout of note was a close decision loss to Muhammad Waseem in 2016 before he went back to facing low level Filipino domestic fighters before scoring notable wins over Petchchorhae Kokietgym and Wenfeng Ge, wins that saw Magramo prove what he could do and begin banging on the door of a world title fight. That title fight came in 2020 and he was made to look third rate by Nakatani who really did toy with him until stopping him in 8 rounds. Notably he has bounced back from those losses with good wins against Jayr Raquinel and Jerry Tomogdan.
In the ring Magramo is a hard hitting fighter, with has very good straight shots and heavy blows up close. Sadly though he is relatively easy to hit, crude, unpolished and slow. Getting into a war with him isn't a smart idea, but boxing and moving, punishing him for his lack of speed, and making the most of the fact he needs to set his feet can make him look rather limit. Keeping that up for 12 rounds however is tricky, and he does apply pressure, have a great chin and a brilliant will to win. He is flawed, but to beat him a fighter will need to be world, or fringe world, class due to his power, toughness, determination and tenacity.
As for Kuwahara, the Ohashi promoted 27 year old was a notable amateur, competing in international competitions before beginning his professional journey in 2018. He was eyed as part of the next wave of Ohashi gym fighters and quickly impressed taking good wins over domestic fighters like Takamori Kiyama and Kyomu Hamagami before stepping up and beating Filipino visitors Jonathan Refugio and Ricardo Sueno. By the start of 2020 he seemed on the verge of a domestic title fight, but the pandemic slowed those plans and he had to wait until July 2021 for a crack at Japanese champion Seigo Yuri Akui. Their bout was nip and tuck through 9 riveting rounds, before Akui's power finally broke him down in the 10th round of a great fight. Since then he has picked up two low level wins including one over Parinya Khaikanha the younger brother of Suriyan and Nawaphon Kaikana.
In the ring Kuwahara is a really good boxer, with a smooth look to his work, some fantastic body shots and a really good boxing brain. Sadly for him he does look top domestic level power, and although he has stopped his last 2 opponents, he doesn't have the type of power which will scare opponents away. Instead he's more of a clean puncher, who will get respect from opponents, but not turn fights around with it. Coming in to this particular bout he will very much be the boxer against the power punching Magramo.
For this fight the real question is who will be able to dictate the range and tempo. If Kuwahara boxes and moves, like we've seen from him in the past, we certainly expect him to rack up the rounds, especially early on, and if he can get to the body of Magramo he can likely hold off the surge that Magramo will make. If however Magramo's pressure forces Kuwahara into a war then this isn't going to end well for the challenger. The champion needs to either set a high intensity, and force Kuwahara to stand and trade, or stand off early on and make a charge for things late in the bout. As for Kuwahara he needs to box, he needs to be smart, and whilst Magramo doesn't have the power of Akui, Kuwahara still needs to be wary of how punishing Magramo's hands are.
We think that whilst Kuwahara will make a good start we actually see him breaking down in the middle rounds, and potentially see the wheels falling off late on, much like they did against Akui, with a late stoppage for Magramo.
Prediction - TKO 11 Magramo
This coming Saturday we'll see the vacancy of the OPBF Flyweight title being filled, as former champion Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9) takes on former world title challenger Giemel Magramo (24-2, 20) in the Philippines. The bout looks likely to be one of the best all-Filipino bouts of 2021 and it should be regarded a genuinely significant bout, not just due to the OPBF title, but also due to the standing of the two men, and the fact the winner will be only a few win away from securing a potential world title fight in 2022 or 2023.
Of the two men the more well known is 27 year old Giemel Magramo, a hard hitting fighter who had looked like a world champion in the making until last year, when he was made to look third rate by Junto Nakatani in a bout for the WBO. That loss to Nakatani was the second of his career, and had followed a controversial 2016 loss to Muhammad Waseem, though it was a humiliating and one sided one which could leave lasting damage on him mentally. Prior to that loss Magramo had won 7 in a row, all by stoppage, showing off his heavy hands, he destructive in ring mentality and his willingness, to take the fight to an opponent. Whilst many of opponents were lower level he showed what he could do against the likes Wenfeng Ge and Richard Claveras, and he looked a natural in those bouts.
Technically Magramo isn't the most polished, but he's an aggressive fighter-puncher, with heavy hands. He's got slow feet, he can be out boxed, out fought and out thought, but he's very dangerous, he's tough and he comes to fight. On paper he has the tools to be in some thrilling match ups, but he also has the flaws that make him easy to out box, and if fighters can avoid a tear up with him they can make him look very limited.
Whilst less well known Jayr Raquinel is arguable the more promising and more proven fighter, despite having never fought at world level. "The Dreamer" is a 24 year old southpaw who debuted in 2014 and looked like a dangerous fighter straight from the off, with 3 opening round wins. In 2017 Raquinel had his winning run ended, fighting to a draw with Glenne Calacar, but he bounced back from that with 4 wins, including KO victories over Keisuke Nakayama and Shun Kosaka in Japan to win, and defend the OPBF Flyweight title. Sadly for him he was made to look rather flawed in 2018, when he lost to Wulan Tuolehazi, but boxing backed in 2019 with wins over Takuya Kogawa, a brutal KO, and Jack Amisa.
In the ring Raquinel is a real danger man, but also someone who is easy to over-look, especially given he's not fought in close to 2 years. Despite that he's an explosive puncher, with truly spiteful power, as seen in his KO's against the likes of Nakayama, Kosaka and Kogawa. He's not just powerful however but he's also quick, and explosive, making him a really dangerous fighter at Flyweight. Sadly he can be caught between minds, and we've seen look timid, against Tuolehazi, and we've seen him look wild. Interestingly he's very similar, in many ways, to Johnriel Casimero, and despite the loss to Tuolehazi we wouldn't write him off as a future world champion.
Coming in we're expecting this to be a barn burner. Both men can fight, both like to throw bombs, and both like to unload. For us however Raquinel is the more dynamic, the more explosive and the more unpredictable. Magramo is probably the better boxer from a technical standpoint, but we're not sure if that will make a difference. Likewise it's hard to not feel like the loss ot Nakatani has negatively affected Magramo, and if that's a case he may be more timid and gin shy than we've seen from him. If he can't get respect from Raquinel he'll be in serious trouble.
We're expecting to see Raquinel take a few rounds to get going, but when he does we suspect he'll be pinging right hooks and straight left hands off of Magramo with ease and by rounds 7 or 8 will have destroyed the desire of MAgramo.
Prediction - TKO8 Raquinel
The Flyweight scene in Asia is a rather weird one right now. There are some amazing fighters there, like Kosei Tanaka, and some really fast rising hopefuls, like Junto Nakatani. Sadly though there is a really awkward gap between some of the regional level fighters and the world class fighters.
Among those stuck between the Oriental scene and world level is current OPBF champion Jayr Raquinel (10-1-1, 7), who travels to Japan later this month to make his second defense of the title. In the opposite corner to the champion is former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13), who appears to have slipped significantly from his prime.
Aged 22 Raquinel has a lot of potential to make a mark at world level, much like the aforementioned Nakatani and fellow rising youngster Ryota Yamauchi, though his has a lot of questions over his head. He showed his ability to perform on the road in early 2018, when he stopped Keisuke Nakayama to claim the title and then again just months later when he stopped Shun Kosaka in his first defense. Sadly his rise hit the skids last year when he lost a competitive decision to Chinese foe Wulan Tuolehazi, in China, and he's not fought since that bout. Whilst his title wasn't on the line against Tuolehazi the bout did cost him momentum and his unbeaten record and it's almost a year since he last stepped in the ring.
At his best Raquinel is a solid boxer-puncher. He's got a hard hitting southpaw left, a good right hook, and smart movement. Sadly for all the positives about him he can often look lazy in the ring, too reserved and unwilling to let his shots go. Against Tuolehazi he looked great, when he threw his punches, but all too often looked happy to not do much, cruising and waiting, often waiting too long and letting Tuolehazi do enough to take the win. Given his age that loss could be a great learning experience, or could be a setback that he struggles to ever really rebuild from.
The 34 year old Kogawa has long been one of the most fun to watch fighters on the planet. Having debuted 14 years ago Kogawa has been one of the staples on the Flyweight scene much of that time. He began his career with a 17-1 (10) record, and won the OPBF Super Flyweight title, before getting a world title fight against Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in 2011. Kogawa lost to Wonjongkam but bounced back and won the Japanese Flyweight title just 6 months later. It's been the Japanese Flyweight title that has really been the focus for much of Kogawa's career over the last 8 years with title bouts against the likes of Shigetaka Ikehara, Suguru Muranaka, Hiroyuki Kudaka and Masayuki Kuroda.
Through his career Kogawa has been in some amazing bouts, his fights with Muranaka, Kudaka and Kuroda stand out.He has had a career from being a boxer-brawler, with a high tempo style, that has seen him take a lot of punishment. Sadly in the last few years Kogawa has started to show the damage of those battles, and looks to have slowed significantly from the star he was. Whilst some of that could be put down to lingering effect from a serious ear injury, which he suffered in 2016, it's fair to say that his warrior mentality, hard fights and really hard rounds, along with his age, has simply caught up with him.
At his best Kogawa would be strongly favoured over Raquinel, sadly though he's a long way removed from his best. This version of Kogawa has struggled with the likes of Naoto Fujimoto and Hideyuki Watanabe, limited domestic foes. Even with Raquinel having been out of the ring for a year we suspect his youth, freshness and speed will be the key. With Kogawa being aggressive we see Raquinel getting chances to sit back and counter, rather than in the Tuolehazi fight where the Chinese fighter didn't give Raquinel opportunities to counter.
We suspect Raquinel will come out on top here, and Kogawa will then end his long, and thrilling career.
Prediction- Raquinel UD12
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.