Since turning his hand to professional boxing in 2021 former K-1 World Grand Prix Super Bantamweight Champion Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4) has been a man ear marked as a stud in the ring. Some one put on the fast track and someone with huge expectations resting on his shoulders. This coming Friday we get the chance to see if he can live up to those expectations as he takes a major step up, and challenged the highly skilled Filipino Pete Apolinar (16-2, 10), in a bout for Apolinar's OPBF Super Bantamweight champion. A win for Takei would cement his place as the next anointed star of the Ohashi Gym, and potentially the gym's second biggest name, behind Naoya Inoue, whilst a win for Apolinar would top off a brilliant break out year for the unheralded Pinoy.
The 26 year old Japanese southpaw had been a legitimate star in K-1 before deciding to turn to professional boxing. In K-1, a kick boxing organisation, Takei had shown educated and heavy hands, those skills as a puncher have converted over to boxing perfectly well and he has quickly shown that he’s a devastating puncher, with brutal power, and solid technical boxing skills. He made his debut in March 2021 and needed just a round to off his first 3 opponents, including the then unbeaten pairing of Azusa Takeda and Kazuhiro Imamura, before stepping up this past April and taking out Shingo Kawamura in 2 rounds. What those bouts proved was that Takei was a natural puncher. He wasn’t setting a high tempo with a guns out, ultra-aggressive style, but instead was boxing and using his heavy shots to detach opponents from their senses. He was doing so responsibly, intelligently, and in truly devastating fashion.
Whilst we can’t doubt Takei as an intelligent fighter, or a hard hitting one, he does have a lot of questions to answer. The most notable of those is regarding his stamina. In his entire combat sport career, consisting of 25 professional kick boxing bouts along with his 4 professional boxing contests and numerous Muay Thai bouts, he has never had to fight for more than 9 minutes. He is an established talent as a fighter, but we really are interested in seeing what happens if a fighter can take his power and take him 6 rounds, or deeper. Does his power carry? Does he have a gas tank for 12 rounds? Does he question himself when his power isn’t having an impact on someone after 4 rounds? These questions are ones he will have to answer if he’s going to make it to the top in professional boxing, and ones we expect to see Apolinar asking him.
Despite entering as the challenger Apolinar is very much the under-dog here, and this is shown in a on Boxmob.jp where only 14% of correspondents have picked Apolinar* to win. Notably however he is much, much more proven as a professional boxer than Takei. The 27 year old Filipino has been a professional boxer since 2014, racked 109 rounds over 18 fights and has shared the ring with a number of notable fighters, including Jeo Santisima, Jetro Pabustan, Jong Seon Kang and Jhunriel Ramonal. And notably he’s had some success against those fighters, with his biggest win being his 10th round TKO win over Ramonal for the OPBF title back in April.
In the ring Apolinar is a crafty fighter. He fights with a shoulder roll defense, is accurate and sharp with his counters. He's not the most aggressive, or the biggest puncher, but he's patient, he waits for mistakes and he strikes when opponents leave themselves open. He's very quick with his hands, very accurate and a fighter who is clearly an intelligent young man. His jab is an excellent weapon, as is his right hand too the body, and his uppercuts. Despite being a good defensive fighter he can drop his hands at times, and become somewhat dependent on his reactions as opposed to his technical skills, but due to his speed this is rarely a real issue for him. One are where he is lacking is power, and despite stopping Ramonal last time out, in what looked like a very impressive win at the time, it's worth noting that Ramonal was blitzed in 2 rounds in his only fight since losing to Apolinar. That lack of power might be an issue if this becomes a fighter fight.
There is no doubting that Apolinar is the more rounded boxer, and the more skilled pure boxer. But the power Takei has is brutal and he has been taking opponents out in impressive fashion. Although his stamina hasn't been tested he has been working with Akira Yaegashi, who will have pushed him hard in training, and we think worries about his stamina are some what unnecessary given that training. More interesting will be what happens if Apolinar can frustrate and counter Takei, and making things tough. Sadly for Apolinaro however, we don't imagine that happening. Despite some good moments from the Filipino, we see him taking a hard left hook from a patient Takei, who will give few openings to Apolinar. That left hook, potentially in round 3 or 4, will stagger the Filipino and a follow up will force a stoppage.
Prediction - TKO4 Takei
*Poll data take on August 19th.
On April 2nd fight fans in Paranaque City get a potentially very interesting all-Filipino bout as Jhunriel Ramonal (17-9-6, 10) and Pete Apolinar (15-2, 9) battle for the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title. For both men this is a major bout, and a huge chance for them to put their names in the mix for notable regional bouts at 122lbs, whilst the losing will have a long climb back to becoming relevant.
Of the two fighters involved the more notable is Ramonal. The 32 year old veteran is someone who has been around the block a time or two, and despite having a messy record he has scored a number of notable wins, whilst proving he can never be written off. As a professional Ramonal began his career in 2007 and had mixed results through his early years as a professional, going 12-4-1 (6) through his first 17 bouts. By the end of 2014 he was 14-8-4 (7), having gong 2-4-3 in his previous 9 bouts, and it seemed his career was pretty much over. In fact it was more than 3 years before we saw him back in a boxing ring, and on his return he continued to struggle, with draws in his first two bouts back. Surprisingly however in 2019 he had something of a career resurgence, and scored brutal KO wins over Shingo Wake and Yusaku Kuga, showing that he was a tough, heavy handed, fighter and someone not to be over-looked. Sadly though his rise hit a brick wall when the pandemic started, and he lost his moment, without a fight in well over a year. When he returned, in July 2021, he was then upset himself by Landy Cris Leon, in what was a genuine shocker.
In the ring Ramonal isn't quick, sharp, or even the most skilled. What he is however is determined, heavy handed, tough, and a true rugged fighter. He trudges forward, takes a lot of punishment as a result, but has dynamite in his hands. He's not got quick hands, or quick feet, and he hasn't got the best defense, but what he hits he hurts. At regional and domestic level he really is the type of fighter who has a punchers chance against anyone. Above regional level his flaws are an issue, and sadly for him accumulated damage is also a problem, with Ramonal having been cut numerous times during his career, and has lost due to those cuts on several occasions. Against fighters who hold their feet he is devastating, as we saw against Kuga, but if a fighter moves, keeps things at range and boxes safe he can be made to look foolish, slow and awkward, and game plans to beat him will revolve around showing him respect and taking advantage of his lack of speed.
Aged 26 Pete Apolinar is from a newer generation of Filipino fighters, and made his debut in 2014, around the same time as Ramonal's career seemed to be ending. He began his career on the low level Filipino domestic scene, and ran up 5 straight wins before being stopped in a round by Jeo Santisima in 2015. Following that loss Apolinaro rebuilt, winning 10 bouts in a row including wins against the likes of Lloyd Jardeliza, Jetro Pabustan, and Jess Rhey Waminal, who he beat for the OPBF Silver title last year. Sadly for him his winning run came to an end last year when he was stopped by rising Korean hopeful Jong Seon Kang in a WBO Oriental Featherweight title. For this bout he will be moving down in weight, dropping 4lbs to go from Featherweight to Super Bantamweight.
In the ring Apolinar is a pretty tidy fighter, with a nice sharp jab, good movement in the pocket and some slippery tricks in his arsenal. He has good short punches, under-rated defense, and his does slip and roll shots well. Sadly though at Featherweight, where he fought Kang, he issue was with the physicality of the Korea, who kept coming, despite taking taking some low in round 4. Apolinar had success in the bout, but was simply worn down and worn out by Kang, who is known for his energy and work rate. As the bout went on Apolinar's work rate went, and he stood in range way too much against a bigger, stronger man. As he slowed be became more of a target, and was backed on to the ropes too easily, before being wiped out in round 8. Thing he'll have to avoid here against someone like Ramonal.
In terms of skills Apolinar is the much, much better boxer. He has some really advanced skills in his locker, and he really is a very skilled young man. Sadly though skills aren't always the be all and end all. Sometimes heart, desire, power, and determination is key, as we've seen in recent wins for Jordan Gill and Leigh Wood in the UK. We suspect Apolinar's boxing skills will see him take an early lead, but the power of Ramonal will land, sooner or later. When that happens Apolinar will be in trouble, and will begin to be broken down, much like we saw against Kang.
Prediction - TKO6 Ramonal
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.