One of the best things about Japanese boxing right now is the Featherweight division, which is red hot with talent, and has a brilliant variety of styles among it's top fighters. You have pure boxers, like Reiya Abe and Ryo Sagawa, you have warriors like Tsuyoshi Tameda and Daisuke Watanabe, you have boxer-punchers, like Hinata Maruta, and emerging prospects, like Jinki Maeda and Ryuto Owan. The division in Japan is bursting at the seams, even if international fans aren't really paying it much attention. Yet. It's inevitable that at least one of the top Japanese Featherweights will make a mark at the top level in the coming years, and it's a case of when, and not if, we see one of them fighting for, and potentially winning, a world title.
The division is set for another huge bout in Japan on May 21st as OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) takes on WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7), in a bout to unify the two regional titles in the division.
As with so many Featherweight bouts in Japan recently, the bout is not just a really good one, between two very solid fighters, but also a match up between two men who are very talented, and have very different styles. It's the mix of styles that makes such a compelling match up, and will see both men being forced to prove what they can do against a fighter who will ask them very serious questions.
Of the two men the more well known is Satoshi Shimizu, 2-time Olympian who won bronze at the 2012 London games, losing in the semi final to Luke Campbell. He had hoped to compete at the 2016 Olympics, but after failing to qualify turned professional, at the advanced age of 30. The idea, originally, was to fast track him. After all he had been a stellar amateur with 150 amateur wins, and an Olympic gold medal. The fast tracking worked well early on, and he won the OPBF Featherweight title in his 4th professional bout, just just 13 months after his debut and raced out to 8-0 (8) whilst beginning to edge towards a world ranking. And then he flirted with the Super Featherweight division and got badly beaten by Joe Noynay in 2019, with Shimizu then requiring a long break from the ring and staying out of action for a year, in part to his injuries and in part due to Covid19. When he finally got back in action last year, he was already 34 and the clock was ticking on his career.
Since turning profession in 2016 there have been some really obvious things about Shimizu that can't be denied. Firstly he's not actually a very good boxer. He's clumsy, he's slow, he's wide with his punches and he does almost everything wrong. There is nothing about him that screams "former amateur stand out". Secondly he punches like a mule. Shimizu is a horrible boxer, but a brutal puncher, and when he lands clean fighters feel it. In fact when he lands just glancing blows opponents feel it. Thirdly, he's awkward as all hell. He's rangy a 5'11", southpaw at Featherweight. Add that to his power and he is just a nightmare to fight, even with all his technical flaws. Sadly at 35 it's now or never for Shimizu, and it's hard to imagine him ever making good on the promise he had when he turned professional.
Aged just 21 Musashi Mori is at the opponent end of his career, though is already an established young fighter who is rapidly rising through the ranks, and moving towards a world title fight. Like Shimizu he debuted in 2016, though did so as a 17 year old, in a 4 rounder, without any hype or noise around him. The following year he went on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year, beating Zirolian Riku in the All Japan final in what was Mori's Korakuen Hall debut, at Super Featherweight. Following that win big things were predicted of the youngster but a genuine scare against Allan Vallespin saw some doubt creep in about the youngster. Rather than question his potential he did something smart, and realised he wasn't a natural Super Featherweight, and dropped to Featherweight instead. Since moving down in weight he has really found himself scoring 2 wins against Richard Pumicpic, winning the WBO Asia Pacific title in the first of those, as well as notching notable defenses against Takuya Mizuno and Tsuyoshi Tameda. As well as his impressive resume for such a young novice he has also been working with the amazing Ismael Salas, who has really helped develop Mori's boxing ability, brain and style, developing him into an excellent young fighter.
In regards to how Mori fights, he's an intelligent boxer, with some snap on his shots. Over the last few years he has toned down his aggression, used his jab a lot more, and really developed in to one of the best counter punchers in Japan. He's accurate, has quick hands, very good footwork and seems comfortable on the inside as well as at mid-range. Defensively there is still work to do, but that has been the area where has really improved so much from his early days, and it's clear that Salas has taught him a lot about defense, and how to control range. Sadly for him he does lack in terms of 1-shot power and physicality, and it's clear that a lot of fighters at Featherweight could bully him around, but he has enough sting on his shots to get respect from opponents, and lands his shots very clean, often as counters with opponents walking on to them.
In terms of abilities, Mori is the much, much better boxer. He's more polished, he's smoother, he's lighter on his feet, he moves better, and his jab is significantly better. If this was all about boxing ability, and just boxing ability, Mori wouldn't have any problems winning. Of course boxing is so much more than just skills and when you carry dynamite in your hands, as Shimizu does, this care never going to be easy. Especially given the awkwardness, reach and size of Shimizu, and the way he throws from some truly angles that fighters can't really prepare for.
We expect to see Mori showing a lot of respect to Shimizu early on. And we mean a lot of respect, but do so whilst picking and poking at Shimizu. Trying to rack up rounds without taking risks. As for Shimizu the key isn't to try and box, but to time Mori coming in, and tagging him before he can get to close. To have success Mori needs to work quickly, use his speed, and if he gets inside he needs to work up close, smothering the power of Shimizu in the process. If he can do that we'll see him chipping away at Shimizu round by round and establishing a clear lead on the scorecards.
Shimizu will always be dangerous, right through to the final bell, and he could turn the bout around at any moment, with a wild looping left hand, or wide right hook. That's a real danger that Mori will need to be wary of, even if he feels in control. If Mori can, however, avoid eating eating too many shots clean we see him taking a clear, and wide, decision over the 35 year old, unifying the two regional titles and establishing himself as one of the leading Japanese contenders at Featherweight, along with Hinata Maruta.
Prediction - UD12 Mori
As part of an Ohashi card on July 16th we'll see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) defending his title against former Japanese Youth champion Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4). On paper this doesn't look the best of bouts, but there is a lot that makes this bout really interesting, and something that could be, potentially, a slippery match up for the defending champion.
The 34 year old Shimizu turned professional in 2016, with many thinking he turned pro far too late to make the most of his ability. Prior to that he had been a very successful amateur, fighting at 2-Olympics and winning bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London. Had he turned professional then we would likely be talking about Shimizu having made an impact at world level. Sadly he wanted to battle for a place at the 2016 Olympics, falling short and turning professional afterwards.
In the ring Shimizu is a crude, but awkward, gangly southpaw puncher. Despite a very strong amateur background he's very unorthodox and throws shots from weird angles, often with his chin exposed. Typically he's gotten away with it in the professional ranks due to his freakish power and absolutely bizarre dimensions for a Featherweight. Last time out however he was punished with Joe Noynay stopping him in 6 rounds in a Super Featherweight bout. That loss not only scuppered Shimizu's unbeaten record but also left him injured and requiring a lengthy break from the ring to recover. As a result Shimizu is now 11 months removed from his last bout and 18 months removed from his last win, which was also his last defense of the OPBF Featherweight title.
With the inactivity, injuries, age, and potentially low confidence Shimizu may well be there for the taking.
In Tonomoto we have a challenger who is just starting to come into his physical prime. He turns 25 in July and appears to finally have some momentum in his career. He made his debut in 2013, reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2014, losing to Reiya Abe, and then vanished from the sport in late 2015 for over 3 years. Since returning to boxing in December 2018 Tonomoto has gone unbeaten in 3 fights, including winning the Japanese Youth Featherweight title in May 2019, and defending it 7 months later.
Sadly footage of Tonomoto is relatively scarce, though in his Japanese Youth title win he did show a lot to like. He moved around the ring well, was accurate and smartly neutralised Hikaru Matsuoka early on before finding his range and boxing well behind his clean and effective jab. It wasn't the most exciting or explosive of performances but it was a smart and efficient stuff from the youngster who was well deserving of the win. He looked like he had the ability to go further in the sport than the Japanese Youth title, but also looked like there was areas holding him back, including his lack of power and lack of intensity.
We do believe this is the perfect time to face Shimizu. If he was in with a dangerous fighter, someone with some bang, or a high work rate, he could be in a lot of trouble. In reality however he's in with a light puncher who he should, really, be able to walk through.
We suspect Shimizu will start slowly, ease his way into the bout, and then begin to step up on the gas in the middle rounds and break down the game challenger. Tonomoto will be there to win, but will, sadly, lack the ability, strength and power to cope with the champion.
Prediction - TKO6 Shimizu
On July 12th Asian fight fans have a packed day with several notable cards, including 2 big ones in Japan. With so many notable fights taking place it's easy for some to get forgotten in the shuffle, and one possible bout that could get lost is a very interesting match up between Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6) and Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8). The bout will see Noynay attempting to make his first defense WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title whilst Shimizu will be flirting with the Super Featherweight division for his first bout at 130lbs.
Noynay won the belt last time out, when he surprisingly stopped Kosuke Saka in 2 rounds, to record his 6th straight win. That win was his first in Japan, following a 2017 loss in Tokyo to Reiya Abe, and his second win on foreign soil, coming after a decision win against Jinxiang Pan in December 2017. Other than the win over Saka last time out Noynay holds no other wins of major note, but the 23 year old has shown great skills, pushing Abe close and losing a razor thin technical decision to Richard Pumicpic.
The talented Filipino is improving fight on fight and is maturing into a really good fighter. As we saw against Saka he can punch, much harder than his record suggests, and he combines that with a very good boxing brain, good movement and good rounded skills, picking the right punches at the right time. Sadly his competition hasn't really allowed him to show what he can do, but it's clear that he is a very good hopeful, and one of the many hidden gems of the Filipino boxing scene. There is still work he needs to do, but in his biggest fights to date he has shown a lot of potential and the foundation to develop into a fantastic young fighter.
The unbeaten Shimizu is the OPBF Featherweight champion and is a former amateur standout, who famously won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. As a professional Shimizu hasn't really shown much of the skills he developed in the amateur ranks, but has proven himself to be a very heavy handed southpaw slugger. During his short career he has already won a regional title and recorded 4 defenses, scoring stoppages over the likes of Shingo Kawamura and Takuya Uehara, but at the age of 33 he can't waste any more time with meaningless bouts.
Shimizu's move to Super Featherweight for this bout is seen as being a one off, with the fighter expected to drop back to Featherweight for a world title shot next time out. Despite that their are questions for him to answer here, like whether his power holds up at 130lbs, or whether eh can take a shot, whether he's physically imposing or whether he still has the size advantages he's enjoyed at Featherweight .At 126lbs he's a physical freak, with a huge frame and a massive wingspan. Add those physical traits to his bludgeoning power and he's an awkward yet effective fighter and now we can see whether he's as effective at the new weight.
Technically Noynay is the better boxer, but he hasn't shown the power to turn many fights around, despite his blow out of Saka. If Noynay can box, use his technical ability, and his boxing brain he could well upset the Japanese fighter, and make Shimizu pay for his wild and open style. On the other hand Shimizu certainly has the power to hurt regional level guys, and if he tags Noynay clean he will look to go for the finish, and undo any early success that Noynay may have had.
This is a compelling match up, and a hard on to call, though we believe that sooner of later Shimizu's "Diamond Left" will land, and that he will get to, and stop, Noynay.
Prediction - TKO9 Shimizu
December 1st and 2nd are incredibly busy for Japanese fight fans, with notable shows in Tokyo, Osaka and Hyogo. The action however flows over the weekend and on to Monday as OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) defends his belt against fellow unbeaten Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10), in what will be Shimizu's 4th defense and Uehara's first bout at this level. On paper it's a mouth watering match up between two unbeaten fighters, facing off for the most prestigious title in the regional. Not only is the belt up for grabs, but also a potential world title fight, with Shimizu holding a #3 IBF ranking at the moment. There is a lot to play for here, and the bout can open up a lot of doors for the winner.
With a perfect KO record Shimizu, on paper, looks brilliant. He's a 2-time Olympian, won an Olympic bronze medal at the London 2012 games, won around 150 amateur fights and is now 7-0 (7) as a professional. On paper the one gripe is his age, and at 32 we do how long he's going to remain in the sport. Sadly for Shimizu paper only tells half the story, and he comes up worryingly badly when we do the "eye test". Although clearly talented Shimizu doesn't have the flowing skills we tend to see in such established amateurs, in fact his boxing style represents a video game character who has a strong chin, vicious power and very limited movement. He can jab and box but he tends to stand his ground too much, slug his shots and fight with a very wide loopy style. He's not a fighter who has many traits of being a very accomplished amateur boxer.
Although technically very crude Shimizu does have really frightening power. His KO of Carlo Demecillo in late 2013 was scary and the way he simply broke Shingo Kawamura up this past August, despite being on the back foot for stretches of the fight, was impressive as his heavy hands just bust up Kawamura. It's clear that having a war with Shimizu is a bad idea. He's awkward, a tall and rangy southpaw and he throws from some very weird angles. Boxing with him however could be a smart idea, and he does make mistakes that fighters can certainly take advantage of.
Whilst Shimizu is a man believed to be going places fast the 23 year old Uehara has been really going about things quietly, whilst fighting out of the Apollo gym. He has spent much of his career away from the main boxing venues of Japan, frequenting the Yodogawa Ward Center and the Mielparque Hall in Osaka rather the EDION Arena and has only fought once at the Koarkuen Hall, but that has allowed him to develop rather carefully, away from the eyes of critics and harsh fan comments. He made his debut at the age of 19 and has slowly made his mark, claiming his best win in December 2016 when he beat Markquil Salvana for the WBC Youth Featherweight title.
Footage of Uehara show him to be a very confident young man, with a lovely technical boxing style. He has a fleet feet, a very sharp jab, which he's busy with, he spots opening well, and moves brilliantly whilst putting punches together. Defensively there are questions to be had about his guard, especially when he's letting his own shots go. One of the few issues that is clear from watching him is that he's not a lights out fighter, his stoppages come from accumulation, and that can be an issue as he steps up in class. We're also unsure how good his chin is, and how he'll take a shot.
If both men were equal, in terms of power, strength and chin, it would be hard to go against Uehara, who has looked like a classy prospect. Unfortunately however power is a big difference maker here, and Shimizu's power really is a game change, and we suspect that Uehara will find out the hard way just how powerful Shimizu's punches are. We wouldn't be surprised to see Uehara have a good start, but like Shimizu's previous opponents they'll taste his power and be broken down, likely in the middle rounds.
A win here for Uehara would genuinely send shockwaves through the Japanese scene. However a win for Shimizu is expected and will move him one step closer to a world title fight in 2019.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (6-0, 6) make his third defense of the OPBF Featherweight title, as he takes on fellow Japanese southpaw Shingo Kawamura (16-3-1, 8). Interestingly this will be Shimizu's second professional bout against a domestic foe, with his last being a 109 second blow out win against Takuya Yamamoto in May 2017.
Coming in to this there is a lot of expectation on the champion who not only rides high as an Olympic medal winner or as the OPBF champion but also as a man tipped for huge success and a fighter with a perfect record. He's also entering the bout as a world ranked fighter and someone who is on the fast track to a world title fight, and given he's now 32 he can ill afford a set back if he wishes to fight at the top level of the professional ranks.
Despite being a top level amateur fighter Shimizu has a rather unique and unorthodox fighting style which sees him really rely on his freakish amateur traits. He's a 5'10” southpaw fighting at Featherweight, not many fighters at 126lbs have ever been his size and he uses his height and reach to get away with a pretty free swinging fighting style. Although he has got a jab he does seem much happier to go bombs away and look to head hunt with wide arching hooks at range. It's a style that doesn't look like it should be effective but it is, and he's looked totally dominant so far, having barely if ever lost a round since he made his professional debut in September 2016.
Blessed with not only size but also freakish power, impressive stamina and the team at the Ohashi gym behind him Shimizyu is a real nightmare to fight against.
Kawamura on the other hand has got the amateur pedigree, the world ranking, the regional title or the hype of Shimizu. Instead the 28 year old Osakan has got 6 years of professional experience behind him, the development of a hard career and the experience of needing to build himself up from the ground. He actually lost by stoppage on his debut in side the opening round, much like current world champion Sho Kimura, but has bounced back from that loss. He bounced hack so impressively that the following year he was the Rookie of the Year at Featherweight sadly for Kawamura his rise through the ranks was slowed in 2014 when he suffered a surprise loss to Thai visitor Attanon Kunlawong / Kongthara KKP.
Despite a loss on the road in 2016, to Mike Tawatchai, we've seen a real surge of success from Kawamura over the last 24 months with 5 straight wins including a massive one over Tae Il Atsumi last December, slowing the Japanese based Korean's ascent to a title fight. With his experience and confidence it's clear that he will be coming into this bout riding a bit of a high and he appears to be wary of Shimizu's low guard and his own advantages. Saying that however this is a massive step up in class for the challenger who will be looking to negate the reach and size advantages of Shimizu to land his straight left hand.
We know Shimizu is flawed, very flawed, but there is something about his awkward style that seems to leave opponents both dumb founded and on the canvas. We expect the same unorthodox approach to work well here and for him to stop Kawamura, who has been taken out inside the distance in 2 of his 3 losses. Kawamura might be confident going into the bout, and see it as a fun experience, but the reality is that this is a very different test to what he's used to.
In 2012 Japan's Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) claimed Japan's first boxing Olympic medal in 44 years as he took a bronze medal at Bantamweight. After missing out on a place in the Japanese Olympic team for the 2016 Olympics Shimizu turned professional and raced away to the OPBF Featherweight title, claiming the regional title in his 4th bout, having been a professional for less than 13 months. This coming Monday he'll be making his second defense of that title, as he takes on little known Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3) at the Korakuen Hall.
The champion has been raced through the ranks, though turning professional at 30 years old he really didn't have the option of taking things slowly. He debuted in a 6 rounder, immediately moved up to 8 rounders then in just his 4th bout won his first title, stopping Sa Myung Noh in 5 rounds last October.
Although Shimizu has a very strong amateur background, with a reported 150-20 (70) record and is a 2-time Olympian, his style doesn't match that of an accomplished amateur. In fact his style is incredibly unique yet rudimentary. He makes for a pretty stationary fighter who throws wild, looping shots with venom on them. He can box and move but often often holds his feet and relies on his freakish power and size. Given he's a 5′ 10½″ southpaw fighting at Featherweight he really does pose some very unique nightmares in terms of size, stance and angles.
Watching Shimizu, he looks easy to out box, he looks slow, wild and sloppy. It's a very awkward style but one that has been effective. Despite his flaws Shimizu has hardly lost a round through his career so far and he has stopped his first 5 foes in a combined 21 rounds. His longest bout to date has gone 7 rounds and he looked very comfortable in terms of stamina in that bout, suggesting he could do longer, if an opponent can survive his power.
As we've managed to see most of Shimizu's bouts to date, and know of his amateur background, there is a lot that we do know about the champion. The same cannot be said of the challenger, who debuted more than 7 years ago but has been, like many Koreans, struggling with consistent activity and in getting bouts against name opponents. He debuted back in December 2010, losing, and was out of the ring for over 6 years, before suffering a second loss on his ring return. A 3 fight stoppage run followed as he reeled 5 straight wins, before coming up short against Sung Min Cha last September. A rematch with Cha saw Kwon take a majority decision to avenge his most recent loss.
There is very little footage of Kwon available, and we've yet to come across a full fight of his. Given that we don't recall seeing much of him it's hard for us to know what he fights like, however from his record, and the little bit of footage out there, we can deduce a few things. Firstly he's not a big puncher. Whilst 50% of his wins are by stoppage they have come against very limited domestic level novices, and all of them have come in rounds 3 or 4. His stamina is to be questioned, given he has never been scheduled in a bout longer than 8 rounds. From the little footage that is out there he looks, like many Koreans, to be an aggressively minded fighter looking to have a tear up on the inside. He will be giving away size, power, reach, speed and skills to Shimizu and will really struggle with the variety and unorthodox angles that Shimizu finds.
Whilst the Korean has never previously been stopped he has spent much of his career at Super Bantamweight, and on the Rookie circuit in Korea. This is a massive step up in class and it's very hard to imagine him taking Shimizu's looping bombs for long, before becoming the Japanese fighter's 6th straight stoppage victim. Kwon might put up a gutsy fight, but from what we know of the two men it won't be a competitive one, as Shimizu continues to march towards a potential world title fight.
The Featherweight division right now is a very interesting one, with a mix of contenders, champions, prospects and others. In Asia the division is also an interesting one with a host of notable names in the mix for world title fights, and the leader among those is OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4), who appears to be the latest Japanese fighter on the fast track to the top.
Shimizu won the OPBF title back in October, claiming his first professional title following a very successful amateur career. This coming Saturday he'll be looking for his first defense, as he takes on Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9), and looks to make a statement on route to a potential world title fight.
The 31 year old Japanese fighter had major success in the unpaid ranks before turning professional with Ohashi in 2016, debuting in September. His first 3 bouts were impressive stoppages but it wasn't until October's win over Sa Myung Noh that fans really began to sit up and take notice, with Shimizu battering the the tough but outclassed Korea.
In the ring Shimizu is a bit of an enigma. As an amateur he was a well schooled fighter, and those skills have been seen at times in his short professional career. Despite those skills Shimizu often looks like a weirdly uncoordinated, long and lanky fighter, with arms that look too long for his body and as a result has a very peculiar style where his shots come from really unusual angles. Although watching him doesn't suggest he's a big puncher he really does appear to bang and is a great finisher at this level, as Noh found out. He has power, speed, determination and the ability to adapt, though does have questions left to answer about his stamina, durability and defense, which will hopefully be answered here.
Filipino fighter Mancito looks like an over-matched challenger on paper,but for a first defense, on a relatively short turn around, he's not a terrible foe. He's 25 year old and has only been stopped once in his 24 fight career, with that stoppage coming to the world class Tomas Rojas. He certainly looks durable, and did go 10 rounds against Rey Vargas, but there is question marks as to how much his hard bouts have taken from him.
In the ring Mancito is a decent level of fighter. He was dominated by Rey Vargas but was competitive with the likes of Alberto Guevara, Jelbirt Gomera, Thong Sithluangphophun and Vergil Puton and has shown he comes to fight, even when he is out classed. His aggression will allow him to have some success against most fighters, but we suspect it will be his downfall here.
Mancito will come to fight, but against someone as heavy handed and skilled as Shimizu that aggression will be used against him. Mancito will be giving up significant height and reach and will be picked off, being worn down and stopped, likely in the first half of the fight, by the very talented Shimizu.
In recent years we have seen Japanese fighters being fast tracked at a thrilling and exciting pace. The top prospects aren't forced to wait and wait, and they aren't given the chance to stagnate, instead they are pushed, and told to sink or swim. That will be seen again this coming Monday when 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (3-0, 3) takes on OPBF Featherweight champion Sa Myung Noh (11-3, 4), with Shimizu looking to become the “fastest” Japanese fighter to an OPBF title.
For those unaware Shmizu was one of the long standing stars of the Japanese amateur scene for years. He competed at the 2008 Olympics, claimed bronze at the 2012 Olympics and has a reported amateur record of 135-25 (65). His amateur background was part of the reason his professional signature was pursued hard by a number or promoters, before he signed with the Ohashi Gym, who have fast tracked Shimizu's former national amateur team-mate Naoya Inoue and taken him to huge success.
Although Shimizu did have his signature chased following the 2012 Olympics he decided to stay amateur an attempted to claim a place in the 2016 Olympics, before coming up short in a national qualifying event. Having missed out on a third successive Olympics he finally turned professional and debuted less than 13 months ago. On debut he stopped In Kyoo Lee in 5 rounds, and since then has impressively blasted away Carlo Demecillo, in frightening fashion, and Takuya Yamamoto. Those bouts have seen Shimizu show a rather peculiar, and unique style. He's long, and rangy, in fact at 5'10” he's freakishly tall for a Featherweight, and fighting as a southpaw he's exceptionally awkward. What makes him even more unique is he's very stand uppish, yet appears to have really unique angles, with his stance and stature both helping there.
Offensively Shimizu is wild looking, though it's fair to say it's almost a controlled wildness as weird as that sounds. Given that he's wild with his offense it's fair to say that he looks open defensively. It's worth noting however that he rarely takes a clean shot and certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest that he knows his way around the ring, and knows how to look after himself. It is worth noting however that Shimizu only has 9 rounds of professional boxing.
The champion really made his mark earlier this year, in his title winning effort against Ryo Takenaka in Tokyo. Going in to that bout Noh had never fought outside of Korea, had lost his previous bout and had only fought 7 rounds in the previous year. The early going against Takenaka went the way most had expected, but a huge cut to Takenaka's lip in the later stages ended up turning the fight around, and Takenaka would be stopped in 10 rounds, in one of the biggest surprises in Asian boxing this year. Although that win put Takenaka on the Asian map, he had already been known in Korea, have won and defended the Korean title.
In the ring we've seen Noh have a strange career. He was down against Min Suk Choi, and struggled by Jaymart Toyco, though showed great toughness and energy against Takenaka. His will to win saw him pull out a victory whilst down on all 3 cards and he certainly can't be questioned on his desire. Technically he's flawed, much like Shimizu, and is both slow and clumsy. But he really can take a shot, and really doesn't know how to quit. He lacks massive power, but has that damaging power that takes it's, and makes fighters question whether or not they should take risks.
Coming in to this one Noh will know that he has to drag it out. There no point getting into a slug fest with Shimizu early, especially given the Japanese fighter's lack of professional experience. Instead we expect to see Noh show some real caution early, try and avoid Shimizu's bizarre angles, and ease himself into the contest. If he can do that, like he did in some ways against Takenaka, then he has a real chance. Saying that however we suspect Mr Ohashi has taken a very calculated gamble here, and has ran his man through long spars, testing his stamina, getting him to tighten up and fully preparing him to make a statement here. And we think Shimizu will actually go on to stop Noh in the later rounds, answering a number of questions en route to his win.
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.