This coming Sunday we'll see Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) look to score his third defense of that national title as he takes on popular veteran Takuya Kogawa (32-6-1, 14) at the Suntopia in Okayama. The bout will be headlining a rather small card, and although the show isn't a big one, this bout is an incredibly important one, for both men. Both will know that they can ill afford a loss at this point in time. If Akui loses his dreams of a world title fight would be delayed, if not killed all together, whilst Kogawa isn't just fighting for the title but also, potentially, his career.
Of the two men it's actually the challenger who is more well known, and with good reason. The 36 year old Kogawa has been a stalwart of the Japanese scene since the 00's, and is a multi-time world title challenger who has, genuinely, faced a who's who of the lower weights. Not only that but he has also made for some brilliant fights over the years and has been one of the most fan friendly fighters out there. Reading through the opponents he's faced we see wins against the likes of Xiong Zhao Zhong, Shigetaka Ikehara, Hiroyuki Kudaka, Masayuki Kuroda, and losses to the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Yodmongkol CP Freshmart, Suguru Muranaka, Masayuki Kuroda and most recently Jayr Raquinel.
In his prime Kogawa was a pure warrior. His bouts with Pongsaklek, Ikehara, Kuroda, Muranaka, Yodmongkol were wars. He was a man who could box, but often elected to fight, getting in to brawls far too regularly for his own good. It was his willingness to have a firefight that helped make him so popular in Japan, and why he has featured in more than 30 bouts at Korakuen Hall. Sadly though in recent years he has began to look his age. He has looked progressively worse since suffering an ear injury against Yudai Arai in 2016 and since then he's gone 4-2-1, and suffered his sole stoppage loss, which came in 2019 to Jay Raquinel. He has also struggled against opponents many, including ourselves, would have heavily favoured him in. At 36, and with the style he has, it's not a surprise that he's showing signs of aging, but sadly we do need to worry about him, as he's often been too tough for his own good.
Aged 26 Seigo Yuri Akui is just coming into his prime, and is already a scary fighter. He made his debut as an 18 year old, back in 2014, fighting at Light Flyweight. The following year he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year and would run off an 11-0-1 (7) record to open up his career before moving up in weight. Sadly though his move from Light Flyweight to Flyweight didn't go perfectly and after a few bouts at the new weight he came un-done against Junto Nakatani, who stopped him in 6 rounds. That was a huge win for Nakatani at the time, who has since gone on to win the WBO Flyweight title. Akui bounced back from that loss by stopping Masamichi Yabuki, who has also gone on to win a world title, before suffering a disappointing TKO loss to Jaysever Abcede, when he damaged his hand. Since that loss however he has gone 4-0 (3), winning the Japanese title in 2019, when he stopped Shun Kosaka, and has since defended it twice, beating Seiya Fujikita and Taku Kuwahara.
In the ring Akui is deadly. His hands are like rocks and worrying for many opponents he's also a quick starter who doesn't let opponents off the hook when he has them hurt. From his 11 stoppages a staggering 9 have come in the first round, including his wins over Kenji Ono, Ryuto Oho, Masamichi Yabuki, Yoshiki Minato and Shun Kosaka. Not only is he dangerous early however, but in recent bouts he has shown he can box as well, taking a 10 round decision over Seiya Fujikita and showing power late to stop Taku Kuwahara, with those two wins answering a lot of questions about his potential. Worryingly for opponents he's dangerous early, dangerous late, and bludgeons guys with power. Thankfully for some he can be out outboxed, he's not the quickest, the sharpest or the biggest at 112lbs, but he's not a guy many will want to take on in a fire fight.
In his prime Kogawa's work rate, toughness, grit and determination would have made him a real nightmare for Akui. He might have walked into a few too many, but his attitude was going to be to go to war and whilst smothering Akui and not letting him get full extension on his shots. It would have been a risky game plan, but one that has worked numerous times for Kogawa. Sadly this version of Kogawa isn't going to have the same work rate, energy or toughness as he had a decade ago, and rather than smothering Akui and winning a decision in a war, we, sadly, see him being on the receiving end of a brutal beating and eventual stoppage. He will struggle to cut the distance, he will take big shots on the way in and will be out worked, out fought and out punched. Expect Akui to have to dig deep here, but we can't see anything but a stoppage for the champion.
Prediction - Akui TKO6
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.