This coming Friday fight fans in Tokyo will get the chance to see hard hitting OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) make his first defense, and go against hard hitting Filipino puncher Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23). The bout, at Korakuen Hall, is expected to be a really explosive encounter, and could end up being one of the bouts of the month, given the styles and mentalities of the two men involved.
Aged 26 Kurihara is just coming into his prime and has really built well from a faltering start to his professional career. He won his first two bouts, back in 2011, but fell from 2-0 (2) to 3-4 (3) and it would have been easy to have written him at that point. Instead however he built himself up, filling his frame from a frail Flyweight up to that a powerful and strong Bantamweight. Since his poor start he has gone 10-1 (8), with his only loss coming to the now world ranked Hiroaki Teshigawara. In terms of notable wins Kurihara has beaten the likes of Sonin Nihei, Ryan Lumacad, Kazuki Tanaka and most recently Yuki Strong Kobayashi, in what was a controversial bout due to numerous officiating errors.
Although Kurihara began his career as a Flyweight, even making Light Flyweight a couple of times, he is now a fully fledged Bantamweight. He's a very confident fighter, who is incredibly heavy handed and looks to make every fight a bit of a shoot out. He can box, and has a solid if sometimes under-used jab, but he's mentality isn't to box, it's to break opponents down. His jab is used to help him get close, it's used to hurt people. and earn their respect, back them up and set up the distance for his devastating hooks and straight right. Last time out, against Kobayashi, Kurihara wasn't at his best but still managed to drop Kobayashi 4 times, on route to a unanimous decision. It was revealed that he wasn't 100% going into the bout, but still managed to have the power to drop a very decent regional level foe.
Whilst Kurihara is just coming into his prime the same can't be said of Parrenas, who is now 35 and has previously retired. The Filipino, best known for losing to Naoya Inoue in a WBO Super Flyweight world tile fight, is a 12 year veteran who has had a really fun career to follow. Win or lose he has delivered great action, and has proven to be a heavy handed, though someone what chinny, brawler. On paper it looks bad to see 9 losses against his name, but he has lost to the likes of Jonathan Taconing, Marlon Tapales, Naoya Inoue, Ryuichi Funai and Sho Ishida. That alone shows the level he's been competing at, at times. Sadly though he does typically come up short against the better opponents, and a lot of his wins against regional journeyman, Thai novices or Japanese domestic level fighters. He's dangerous, given his power, but is technically quite limited and flawed.
At his best Parrenas would be a nightmare for a fighter like Kurihara. A fighter who comes to have a shoot out with Parrenas, could always be in trouble. Now however Parrenas is on the slide, clearly, he's a long way removed from his best and is several years removed from a win of note. He's still a danger, but if he was to win here it would be just one last hurrah for an aging puncher.
We like both guys, but unfortunately we can't help but think this bout has come a few years too late for Parrenas, who we expect to see being stopped by the younger, fresher, hungrier Kurihara.
Prediction - Kurihara TKO6 in a thrilling fire fight
On December 9th we're set to have a huge number of notable bouts, with an OPBF title fight, a couple of Japanese national titles and a Japanese Youth title fight. As well as the title bouts we also get some very tasty looking non-title bouts. One of those will see former world title challengers collide, with Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) taking on Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23) in what is a must-win for both men.
At 35 years old Parrenas is really in last chance saloon, and is essentially ending a short retirement for this bout. The Filipino born Japanese slugger has had an interesting career that has shown him to be a bit of a glass cannon. He's incredibly dangerous early on but if caught he doesn't seem to recover well, with only 6 of his career bouts going the distance, 4 of which came in his first 7 bouts. Whilst the "stop or be stopped" mentality isn't always the best for a fighter Parrenas has actually done pretty well from it. He has scored wins over the likes of Atsushi Kakutani, Espinos Sabu, Isack Junior, Tomoya Kaneshiro, and lost to the likes of Marlon Tapales, Jonathan Taconing, Oscar Blanquet, Naoya Inoue and Ryuichi Funai.
At his best Parrenas was a scary fighter on the regional scene. His win over Kakutani was thoroughly impressive and showed his power perfectly. Even at his best however he had a shaky chin and could be hurt, however many of the fighters who have stopped him, such as Inoue, Taconing, Tapales and Funai, are very solid punchers and his chin isn't as bad as perhaps his record suggests. Sadly Parrenas isn't at his best, he's now 35 and a touch slower than he was in his prime. He's heavy handed, but not a explosive as he used to be.
At 27 years old Ishida, a fighter from the Osaka based Ioka gym, is a fighter looking to move towards a second world title fight following a 2017 loss to Kal Yafai. Prior to facing Yafai we had though Ishida's career had stalled a bit, and he had failed to spent around 18 months just treading water, after impressive wins over Yohei Yobe, Taiki Eto, Hayato Kimura, and Ryuichi Funai. By the time he was facing Yafai it seemed like Ishida, then 24-0, had lost all career momentum due to mismatches against limited Thai foes, that really were pointless bouts. Since losing to Yafai it does seem like Ishida and his team have taken a more driven approach to preparing for a second world title fight, and this bout with Parrenas follows wins over Lucky Tor Buamas and Richard Claveras. Not world class fighters, but certainly better fighters than the novice Thai's that Yafai had used to prepare for a world title shot.
Against Yafai we didn't see the best of Ishida, with the Japanese fighter really holding back too much and not fighting in the way he can. He didn't really shame himself, but certainly didn't fight to the best of his ability. At his best he's an excellent boxer-puncher, with incredibly sharp punching, under-rated power and spite body blows. The unfortunate part about him however isn't just the poor performance against Yafai but also the fact he has questionable stamina, and when he hasn't finished fighters off he has often made life hard for himself.
In their peaks this would have been a really interesting match up, and Parrenas would have been a very live under-dog. Now however we suspect that Parrenas has little more than a puncher' chance against the younger, bigger, faster Ishida. Parrenas will be dangerous, at least early on, but after the first few rounds Ishida will begin to time him and will likely crush him with a body shot in the middle rounds.
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.