On November 12th we'll see a really interesting Minimumweight bout, as Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10) and Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) face off for the WBO Asia Pacific title, which was vacated earlier this year by Yudai's younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka. On paper this is a huge step up in class for Shigeoka, in his first 12 round bout, but it's one he and his team will go in to with a lot of confidence, whilst Koura will be looking to fight for the first time in well over a year, for only the third time since the start of 2019. In fact for Koura this is a really important bout and a loss here leaves his once promising career hanging by a thread.
Of the two men Koura is the more well established and was genuinely regarded as a prospect with a huge future ahead of him a few years ago. He began his career in 2014, and won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2015, beating future Japanese national champion Yuto Takahashi along the way. In 2017 Koura announced himself on the Oriental level, stopping Jaysevera Abcede in 4 rounds, and then defended the belt against future world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, as well as the then unbeaten Daiki Tomita. He seemed on the verge of a major bout before suffering a shock 12th round TKO loss in 2019 to Lito Dante. Since that loss Koura has fought just once, picking up a low key win over Ariston Aton in February 2020.
At his best Koura was a hart hitting boxer-puncher. He looked brutal in his early bouts, and whilst he was clearly flawed, he looked like he had the physical tools and the boxing skills to go a very, very long way. He just needed time, experience and a chance to develop his in ring style. Then the loss to Dante happened, and it was a massive one, that saw Dante failing in so many areas. He was out boxed by Dante, he was pressed and pressured and crumbled, both mentally and physically. It seemed he had over-looked Dante and never found a way into the bout against the Filipino, who has a very misleading record. Over 12 rounds Koura just simply didn't have what was needed. That fight was his last at title level, and one that showed a lot of problems that Koura had, back in 2019. The hope for him is that he has matured, physically and mentally, and has refound some hunger for the game here, or he could end up suffering another defeat.
Yudai Shigeoka is much less well known than Koura, but is the man coming in to this on the back of some impressive performance, and the one now regarded as a top prospect, with major potential He turned professional after his younger brother but quickly impressed, beating Manop Audomphanawari in late 2019 and then beating Lito Dante over 6 rounds, the same Dante who had stopped Koura. Sadly Covid19 derailed his rise through the ranks, but he did fight this past February and stopped the previously unbeaten Ryu Horikawa in 5 rounds to claim the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title. That fight, for those who haven't seen it, is a tremendous contest, and saw Shigeoka needing to pass something of a gut check, before breaking down and stopping Horikawa in a great bout that showed the significance of the Japanese Youth title scene.
In the ring Shigeoka is a fantastic boxer-puncher, with brutal body shots, a nasty straight left hand, a brilliant array of punches.He moves around the ring really easily and looks like someone with the potential to do huge things. There is however a lot of work for him to do going forward, and we suspect he, and his team, know that his defensive work is a weak point, and something he will need to tighten up on going forward. Given he's fighting out of the Watanabe Gym, it's clear he will be sparring with top fighters, and will be working on defense, but it still a clear weakness from what we've seen of him so far. Another, potential issue, is his stamina and this is his first 12 rounds. In fact his first 3 bouts have been just a combined 13 rounds, and we do wonder if he can do 12 without many problems.
Coming in to this it's really had to know where the biggest issues lie. Is it Koura and his inactivity or Shigeoka and his lack of experience? Even with that question in mind there are then other questions, such as whether the speed and movement of Shigeoka will be too quick for Koura, or whether Koura's power will be too much for Shigeoka?
We suspect that Shigeoka will get off to a great start, against a rusty looking Koura. Get off to a big lead and fight to orders. Looking to avoid a tear up with Koura. As the rounds go on however Koura will begin to wake up, Shigeoka will get drawn into a fire fight, and realise that's not where he wants to be. After a few tough rounds for the younger man, we then expect him to be read the riot act, get back to his boxing, and to a close, but clear, decision victory.
Prediction - UD12 Shigeoka.
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.