Since turning his hand to professional boxing in 2021 former K-1 World Grand Prix Super Bantamweight Champion Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4) has been a man ear marked as a stud in the ring. Some one put on the fast track and someone with huge expectations resting on his shoulders. This coming Friday we get the chance to see if he can live up to those expectations as he takes a major step up, and challenged the highly skilled Filipino Pete Apolinar (16-2, 10), in a bout for Apolinar's OPBF Super Bantamweight champion. A win for Takei would cement his place as the next anointed star of the Ohashi Gym, and potentially the gym's second biggest name, behind Naoya Inoue, whilst a win for Apolinar would top off a brilliant break out year for the unheralded Pinoy.
The 26 year old Japanese southpaw had been a legitimate star in K-1 before deciding to turn to professional boxing. In K-1, a kick boxing organisation, Takei had shown educated and heavy hands, those skills as a puncher have converted over to boxing perfectly well and he has quickly shown that he’s a devastating puncher, with brutal power, and solid technical boxing skills. He made his debut in March 2021 and needed just a round to off his first 3 opponents, including the then unbeaten pairing of Azusa Takeda and Kazuhiro Imamura, before stepping up this past April and taking out Shingo Kawamura in 2 rounds. What those bouts proved was that Takei was a natural puncher. He wasn’t setting a high tempo with a guns out, ultra-aggressive style, but instead was boxing and using his heavy shots to detach opponents from their senses. He was doing so responsibly, intelligently, and in truly devastating fashion.
Whilst we can’t doubt Takei as an intelligent fighter, or a hard hitting one, he does have a lot of questions to answer. The most notable of those is regarding his stamina. In his entire combat sport career, consisting of 25 professional kick boxing bouts along with his 4 professional boxing contests and numerous Muay Thai bouts, he has never had to fight for more than 9 minutes. He is an established talent as a fighter, but we really are interested in seeing what happens if a fighter can take his power and take him 6 rounds, or deeper. Does his power carry? Does he have a gas tank for 12 rounds? Does he question himself when his power isn’t having an impact on someone after 4 rounds? These questions are ones he will have to answer if he’s going to make it to the top in professional boxing, and ones we expect to see Apolinar asking him.
Despite entering as the challenger Apolinar is very much the under-dog here, and this is shown in a on Boxmob.jp where only 14% of correspondents have picked Apolinar* to win. Notably however he is much, much more proven as a professional boxer than Takei. The 27 year old Filipino has been a professional boxer since 2014, racked 109 rounds over 18 fights and has shared the ring with a number of notable fighters, including Jeo Santisima, Jetro Pabustan, Jong Seon Kang and Jhunriel Ramonal. And notably he’s had some success against those fighters, with his biggest win being his 10th round TKO win over Ramonal for the OPBF title back in April.
In the ring Apolinar is a crafty fighter. He fights with a shoulder roll defense, is accurate and sharp with his counters. He's not the most aggressive, or the biggest puncher, but he's patient, he waits for mistakes and he strikes when opponents leave themselves open. He's very quick with his hands, very accurate and a fighter who is clearly an intelligent young man. His jab is an excellent weapon, as is his right hand too the body, and his uppercuts. Despite being a good defensive fighter he can drop his hands at times, and become somewhat dependent on his reactions as opposed to his technical skills, but due to his speed this is rarely a real issue for him. One are where he is lacking is power, and despite stopping Ramonal last time out, in what looked like a very impressive win at the time, it's worth noting that Ramonal was blitzed in 2 rounds in his only fight since losing to Apolinar. That lack of power might be an issue if this becomes a fighter fight.
There is no doubting that Apolinar is the more rounded boxer, and the more skilled pure boxer. But the power Takei has is brutal and he has been taking opponents out in impressive fashion. Although his stamina hasn't been tested he has been working with Akira Yaegashi, who will have pushed him hard in training, and we think worries about his stamina are some what unnecessary given that training. More interesting will be what happens if Apolinar can frustrate and counter Takei, and making things tough. Sadly for Apolinaro however, we don't imagine that happening. Despite some good moments from the Filipino, we see him taking a hard left hook from a patient Takei, who will give few openings to Apolinar. That left hook, potentially in round 3 or 4, will stagger the Filipino and a follow up will force a stoppage.
Prediction - TKO4 Takei
*Poll data take on August 19th.
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.