One of most exciting fighters on the planet is Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (27-4, 13), who rarely has a bad fight and makes even the easy fights look hard, thrilling and fun. We saw that earlier this yea, when he defeated the limited but game Masafumi Otake and we suspect to see that again next week when he faces the relatively unknown Yudai Arai (8-3-3, 4). The bout will be Arai's first title fight, whilst Kogawa will be looking for his 4th defense of his current reign as Japanese champion.
Fight fans who have followed the lower weights over the years might be aware of Kogawa. The little man from Tokyo is the embodiment of the Japanese fighting spirit, he likes to really fight. When he gets in the ring there are limitations to what he does, he's not puncher, he's not lightning quick, he can be hurt and he's not elusive. He is however a complete and utter warrior who makes fights into wars, and wars in to epics.
Kogawa came to the attention of many lower weight fans back in 2011 when he challenged WBC Flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in Thailand. He came up short there but refused to fade away, winning the Japanese title for the first time in his very next fight, and holding it until late 2013 when he lost an incredible contest with Suguru Muranaka. That loss to Muranaka was followed by a hugely controversial defeat in Thailand to Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep. Since that loss we'vee see Kogawa have a resurgence with 5 victories, over-come the likes of Hiroyuki Hisataka, Tetsuma Hayashi and Masayuki Kuroda, whilst edging towards another world tile bout.
Aged 31 and with an 11 year career behind him Kogawa is on the back end of his career, especially given he has fought 200 rounds, but he's not looking like a fighter who is fading quickly and he could be around for another few years with his body holding up well for such a grinding battler.
The 24 year old challenger is certainly a major under-dog coming into this bout, but he'd be stupid to turn down the opportunity of a life time, and this really is the most significant bout of his career, by some margin. He turned professional in 2010 and began his career with a draw, before falling to 1-1-2. A 7 unbeaten run saw Arai advance his record to 6-1-3 (3) before back-to-back stoppage losses in 2015 put the brakes on his career. Since those losses he has scored back-to-back wins but has never competed near the top of the Japanese domestic scene.
Although footage of Arai is scarce it's fair to say that he's not a huge puncher, with 4 stoppages in 14 bouts, and with 3 stoppage losses against him he's also not the toughest of fighters. He is however a man being given a career changing opportunity and will have trained like a demon for this fight, and a potential chance to claim the Japanese title and a possible world ranking.
Although he'll be training hard Arai can't put muscles on his chin, or become a dynamite puncher suddenly. As a result we suspect he'll suffer a mid-to-late round stoppage, though put up a fun fight and probably go down swinging against Kogawa, who is looking to become the first fight to retain a title on two separate shows aired on boxingraise.com.
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.