Exciting fighters make for exciting fights, especially when we get two exciting and aggressively minded fighters in there together. One of the sports most exciting fighters is Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (24-4, 13), Although a very unheralded fighter he is as action as they come and combines fantastic work rate, desire and toughness to make a fighter who is rarely in a bad fight.
Earlier this year Kogawa became a 2-time Japanese champion and in November he will make the first defense of his second reign as he takes on former toe, and fellow exciting fighter, Tetsuma Hayashi (25-3-2, 9), himself a former Japanese title challenger.
For those who recognise Kogawa's name he has really been in some great fights. His most notable bout was a loss to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam back in 2011. Since then he has been regularly involved in thrillers, including a 2012 win over Hayashi to defend the Japanese Flyweight title, a loss to Suguru Muranaka in 2013, a loss to Yodmongkol Vor Seanghtep for the WBA interim Flyweight title and a win over Hiroyuki Hisataka, also late last year.
In the ring Kogawa lacks power and in some ways defense. He is however a perpetual punching machine who seems to feel his best defense is his offense and more often than not that makes for great action. When he needs to however Kogawa can fight on the retreat, though he seems to prefer to be an offensive windmill.
Whilst Kogawa is a 2-time Japanese champion, a former OPBF champion and a former world title challenger he's yet to have the international respect that his talent and style deserve. In fact very few international fans will really know too much about him. They will however know more than they know about Hayashi.
In many ways Hayashi's most notable bout was his loss to Kogawa. Prior to that he had gone 18-1-1 (6) with his sole loss being a split decision to the more experienced Takayasu Kobayashi. Against Kogawa we saw Hayashi really push the more established man close, though his lack of experience against quality opponents did show at times.
Since that loss Hayashi has gone 7-1-1 with his best win coming over Junichi Ebisuoka and his sole loss coming to Suguru Muranaka, in a Japanese title fight that saw Muranaka lose his belt on the scales. In many ways that bout, which was actually his most recent, was his most impressive despite losing. It say Hayashi really give Muranaka all he could handle with the former champion pulling out a very narrow win. Whilst it was a great performance by Hayashi it was one that seemed to again show his lack of 10 round experience.
Coming in to this one we're expecting to see Hayashi at his very best, we're expecting a better performance than he had first time around against Kogawa. Likewise however we're expecting to see Kogawa at his best, knowing that another loss will kill any chance of him getting another title shot. Unfortunately for the challenger he hasn't yet shown the type of ability a fighter needs to beat Kogawa, he will however run him very close in another enthralling encounter, bout that will leave the Korakuen Hall in raptures of cheers once again.
For those wanting to see the first bout between the two men, we've included that below.
The Flyweight division is one of the sport's very best. What it lacks in big names it more than makes up for in action, excitement, high quality fighters, brilliant match ups and general all-round quality.
We know knowledgeable western fans are acquainted, at least somewhat, with Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada but below those two is a wealth of talent that they may not be aware of. It's that lesser known talent that often gives us some of the best fights as the fighters look to make their mark and make a statement to allow them to get a big fight.
One match up that features two lesser known fighters comes around on April 8th when Japanese champion Suguru Muranaka (21-2-1, 7), one of the few fighters to be world ranked by all 4 world bodies, defends his title against Tetsuma Hayashi (25-2-2, 9). The fighter may not have “knockout out” power, at least according to their records, but they both bring a lot of action, a lot of excitement and a lot of heart in battles that are so entertaining.
Muranaka won the title just a few short fights ago when he over-came former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa with a narrow split decision. That win over Kogawa has been followed by two successful defenses, both ending inside the distance with the most recent being an eye catching 1-punch finish against Yusuke Saksahita last October.
For many hardcore fight fans Muranaka is on the periphery. He's a name they might have seen in the rankings but probably haven't seen in action. He is however a pure work horse in the ring. He is happy to throw a lot of shots, use a high rate and although his power is limited he refuses to lose an exchange, always trying to throw the final punch in any back-and-forth.
In terms of his record Muranaka hasn't been beaten in more than 8 years. Both of his losses were close decisions and he has gone 14-0-1 (5) in his last 15 bouts. Those wins have seen him over-come the likes of Yuki Nasu, Along Denoy, Kogawa and Masayuki Kuroda and he has managed to establish himself as the top Flyweight on the Japanese domestic scene.
For many fans Hayashi isn't even on the periphery of their conversations about the Flyweight division. Despite that the 26 year old is #15 by the WBA and is getting his second shot at the Japanese title, almost 3 years after he came up short in a fight with Kogawa. That loss has since been followed with a run of 7-0-1 (3), including wins over Junichi Ebisuoka and Samransak Singmanasak.
In some ways it's hard to know how good Hayashi is. His world ranking doesn't seem very accurate, especially given the depth of the division, and his two losses have come to the only title level fighters he has fought in Kogawa and Takayasu Kobayashi, who came up short in two title bouts himself. He does look good in regards to “the eye test” and appears to have nice movement, lovely hand speed and explosive combinations, though defensively he can look a bit suspect and can be seen to rush his work.
At times Hayashi can seem apprehensive whilst at other times he can look reckless. Unfortunately for him those are his major flaws. He can't seem to ever find the middle line in terms of committing too much and not committing enough. Against a fighter like Kogawa that was unltimately his downfall.
We suspect the Kogawa bouts for both men to tell us a lot about this fight. Hayashi was relatively apprehensive against Kogawa, it was a big step up and although he was very competitive he never managed to enforce himself on Kogawa for long, it was more an occasional and short burst of success. On the other hand Muranaka managed to boss the bout at times and really forced Kogawa backwards, essentially winning a brawl and forcing Kogawa on the the retreat. We see Kogawa forcing Hayashi on to the retreat. Hayashi will fire back, he will try to force Muranaka back at times but overall there will just bee too much from the champion for the challenger to cope with in a fighter that sees a lot of action but a clear winner.
(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.