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.
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.