Boxing sees another trilogy reach it's conclusion later this month as Japanese Featherweight Satoshi Hosono (30-2-1, 20) [細野 悟] faces Rikiya Fukuhara (31-8-1, 23) [福原 力也] in a mandatory defense of the title.
These two men first faced off back in 2012 when the two men clashed in a non-title affair. That bout saw Hosono over-come Fukuhara with a 7th round TKO, before going on to face Chris John in a WBA world title fight. The two men also clashed last year, with Hosono taking a well deserved decision win over Fukuhara.
Since their second bout Hosono has fought 3 times, with the 2 most recent bouts being very competitive and tough contests for the champion who has fought 30 rounds since beating Fukuhara for the second time, with 10 of those coming against Takuya Watanabe and 10 against Akifumi Shimoda. Fukuhara on the other hand has gone just 4 rounds, quickly seeing off Yusuke Nakagawa last September.
For those who don't follow the Japanese scene there is a chance you've still seen, or heard, of Hosono. He's a 3-time world title challenger who has suffered all 3 of his setbacks at the world level. They have included losses to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym and Celestino Caballero and a technical draw against Chris John. Aside from those 3 bouts, the first of which came more than 6 years ago, he has been fighting against Japanese and Oriental scene where he has been one of the standouts at the weight.
In the ring Hosono is a pressure fighter. He's a bit of a slow starter but has a great engine, knows how to come on strong in the second half of fights and combines very solid power with a genuine toughness. Unfortunately he is a bit limited, his footwork is somewhat slow and in recent years we've seen fighters being able to really push him close with some suspicions being that Hosono is very much on the slide.
Whilst Hosono is fairly predictable pressure fighter Fukuhara is a boxer-puncher, who uses speed and movement to get his shots off, fights on the move and has the power to make any opponent at domestic level respect him. At his best he was an exciting fighter who combined excitement with flaws and wins over the likes of Yuji Gomez, Shoji Kimura and Toshimitsu Sakai are somewhat negated by losses to Kazunori Takayama, Allan Tanada and Seiichi Okada.
Aged 37 the challenger has seen better days but will be coming in to this one known that one more loss, especially to Hosono will likely be the end of his dreams to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Sadly for the challenger we see this bout going much the same way as their last bout, with Fukuhara having his moments, particularly early on, but coming up short against the naturally bigger, and younger, Hosono. If we're right we suspect Fukuhara will retire in the wake of the bout.
Although Hosono has looked like a fighter coming to the end of his career recently he was very busy last year with 4 tough bouts in 9 months. The recent break will likely have helped him recover a bit and his desire to get one more world title fight.
One of the very best things about Japanese boxing is the Champions Carnival which sees the domestic champions defending their titles against the top domestic challengers. This often leads to some brilliant match ups across the division which can help set the tone for the division for the following year. Sometimes we see the winner of the bout move on to a higher level, for example an OPBF or world title fight, whilst other times we see the winner taking the year to establish their position and develop experience before moving on.
One of the brilliant match ups that has been set for 2015 will see former world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (26-2-1, 20) defending his Japanese national title against former foe Rikiya Fukuhara (30-7-1, 22), himself a former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion, on March 5th. The men will be meeting for the second time though this time there will be a title, and potential world title fight on the line.
Hosono, who won the first meeting, will obviously be risking his national title though will also be risking world rankings with all 4 title bodies, including a #2 ranking with the WBA and a #9 ranking with the IBF. He will however enter as the clear favourite and will be expected to record the 2nd defence of the Japanese title that he re-won last year, when he stopped Yuki Ogata in the 10th round.
For those who recognise Hosono's name he has competed at the world level in the past, in fact all 3 of his career set backs have been at the tier of the sport. The first of those came more than 5 years ago when he narrowly lost a brilliant bout with Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym for the WBA Super Bantamweight title, that bout seemed to be very competitive though Poonsawat's brilliant stamina and experience helped him to record the win. In his second world title bout, in late 2011, Hosono was clearly beaten by elongated Panamanian fighter Celestino Caballero, in a fight for the WBA Featherweight title. More recently we saw Hosono fight to a 3rd round technical draw with WBA Featherweight super champion Chris John, in what would be John's final successful defence of the title.
Internationally Fukuhara is a relative nobody. That's not to be harsh to him but very few fans outside of Asia, and particularly Japan, will recognise his name. Despite that he is a former Japanese champion at 122lbs and holds notable wins over Shoji Kimura, Masaaki Serie and Yuji Gomez. Most telling however is the fact he is popular, exciting and comes to fight with the knockout often being his aim. Sadly it's not always worked for him, as seen in numerous losses including an upset loss to then little Allan Tanada of the Philippines.
Dubbed the “Bazooka” Hosono is a very heavy handed and tough fighter. He can, at times, be out boxed especially early in a fight, however he is tough, has solid stamina and is always dangerous. What makes him dangerous isn't just his power but is also his style which is built around pressure with slow but intelligent footwork, a tight defense and the knowledge that he can take a very solid punch if he needs to. When looking for flaws with Hosono we get the usual flaws we see with pressure fighters. He is relatively slow on his feet, his hands aren't the quickest and when he's come up against quick boxers or movers he can be made to look predictable and 1-dimensional as he follows his foe.
When we watch Fukuhara we see a man who can box and move and is a naturally explosive puncher. We won't pretend he's an elusive type of fighter but he can use his feet and box on the back foot, which he did early on against Hosono in their first meeting back 2012. Typically however he's struggled with fighters who have managed to take his power and fight back, as shown in his 5 stoppage losses. Another issue with Fukuhara is his defense which can get very sluggish under pressure and makes him seem like a bully who can't take it when the fight is turned on him.
Knowing what we know about both men we have to go with a repeat of their first bout. That saw Fukuhara winning the first few rounds as he used his feet to get in and out of range. As the fight progresses we'll see Hosono getting his shots off as the fight gradually becomes a slugfest with Fukuhara eventually getting ground down. This time however we'd be shocked to see Fukuhara lasting into round 7, as he did last time. Instead we suspect Hosono breaks him down inside 5 or 6 rounds to retain his title. Sadly at 36 we suspect a loss for Fukuhara will be his swansong in the sport before a retirement
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.