On November 11th we get one of the most interesting OPBF title bouts of 2021 as former WBC Bantamweight title challenger Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) takes on former IBF Super Bantamweight world title challenger Shingo Wake (27-6-2, 19), in a must win bout for both men, if they are are to be in the mix for a world title in the next year or two. Not only is it a must win bout for both men, and not only does it have the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title up for grabs, but it's also a truly intriguing match up between two men who are both known for their technical skills, and they could provide something of a compelling chess match here.
Of the two men the more well known is Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue and a man many expected to see great things from. Whilst he is very clearly in Naoya's shadow there is no denying that Takuma is a talented fighter and one who has accomplished plenty during his short career. He has already won OPBF titles at Super Flyweight and Bantamweight and will be looking to become a 3-weight OPBf champion here, he has also held a WBC "interim" world title and holds plenty of noteworthy wins against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Froilan Saludar and Keita Kurihara. He was also a lot more competitive with Nordine Oubaali than Alejandro Rochin's scorecard suggested, in what is Inoue's only loss as a professional.
Unlike his older brother Takuma doesn't have the brutal "Monster" power than Naoya does. Instead he needs to rely more on boxing skills, a boxing brain and movement. Sticking to great game plans to neutralise good opponents, winning rounds and taking victories, typically on the scorecards. Despite that it is worth noting that he hits harder than his record suggests, and he certainly trouble Nordine Oubaali late in their bout. He has also proven his stamina, his heart, determination and his ability to box on the back foot for 12 rounds, something that certainly isn't easy to do.
Aged 34 Shingo Wake is very much a man in last chance saloon, however in fairness to him he has easily exceeded the expectations many would have had for him had they followed his career from the start. The talented southpaw really struggled early in his career. He was once 3-2-1 (2) and was 12-4-2 (5) before winning his first title, the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, incidentally the same title he is trying to capture again here. Amazingly however he has rebuilt from a slow start and is 24-4-1 in his last 29 bouts, a stark change to his first 6 bouts. He has proven himself to be a very skilled boxer, a sharp shooting southpaw, with light feet, a good jab, under-rated skills and stunning bravery, as we saw in his brutal loss to Jonathan Guzman in 2016. He can box, he can punch, he can counter, and being a southpaw he's almost always a nightmare for fighters.
Although not as well known as Inoue it's fair to say that Wake is just as accomplished. Like Inoue he has come up short at world level, losing to Jonathan Guzman in an IBF world title fight, he has also won lower level titles including the OPBF and Japanese Super Bantamweight titles, and he has notched notable wins of his own. They include victories over among his most notable wins are victories over Yukinori Oguni, Jhunriel Ramonal, Jae Sung Lee, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym and Yusaku Kuga. During those wins he has proven he can do a bit of everything, but is at his best at range as a sharp shooter, drawing errors and pouncing on them with stiff, fast, straight left hand counters.
Coming in to this one, the bout really is an interesting one, and one that could be a tricky one to predict as both are very well schooled fighters. Of the two Inoue is certainly the better pure boxer, the quicker man, and the younger man. Wake on the other hand is the natural Super Bantamweight, the southpaw and the much heavier handed fighter. On paper we suspect Inoue will be the favourite, though this is, for us, a 50-50 bout. Wake's power and natural size is a major thing to consider and unlike most Inoue opponents, Wake has the skills to land, and to land clean. He has the ability and timing to draw a mistake from Inoue and counter, and make his success pay.
We will however be favouring Inoue, in a very, very hotly contested bout. We wouldn't be surprised at all to see Inoue dropped, hurt, and needing to tough out some real scares on route to a razor thing decision. His speed, youth and movement being the difference maker. We see this being incredibly close, and perhaps even a split decision, in a very well fought, high level, chess match.
Prediction - SD12 Inoue
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