This coming Tuesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall will see see WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (20-0, 15) look to record his third defense, as he takes on hard hitting Filipino challenger Alvin Lagumbay (13-5-1, 11). On paper the bout looks like a total mismatch, in favour of the talented, unbeaten and hotly tipped Hiraoka, but we have seen in the past that Lagumbay has the power to be a very threat and isn't someone to look past, despite his limitations.
The unbeaten Hiraoka is widely regarded as one of Japan's brightest hopes, and potentially their next world champion at 140lbs, a division they've not had a champion at since 1992. Aged 26 he's still young but coming into his prime and has improved over the last few years, developing from an athletic fighter, who relied on athleticism, to becoming a well rounded boxer, who just so happens to be a bit of an athletic freak. Also despite "only" being 26 he is already something of a veteran, with 20 bout to his name in a career that dates back to 2013 and saw him advance to the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2014. His talent has caught the eye not just at home, but also in the West with Top Rank working with him, promoting two of his bouts Stateside, and has also seen him having notable success, as he has won both the Japanese Youth, Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific titles at 140lbs.
In the ring Hiraoka was once a fighter who lived on his freakish size, with long limbs and a body that looked like it was made to be an athlete. He had size, speed, stamina and power. But he was somewhat lacking in boxing basics. As the years have gone on he has really worked on the boxing side of things, and now looks like a natural fighter, fighting behind a solid southpaw jab, and with good timing on his left hand. There is still work to do, but he looks like a totally different fighter to the one who was being badly beaten by Takahiko Kobayashi in late 2017. That bout seemed to make him realise he had to take this seriously, and he has since gone on to score very notable wins over the likes of Akihiro Kondo, Rickey Edwards, Jin Sasaki and Shun Akaiwa, by relying on his boxing skills, not his athletic tools.
With a 13-5-1 record Lagumbay doesn't look anything special, and in fairness the 27 year old isn't anything special. But he is someone that everyone needs to be careful against, because he has something every fighter fears. Brutal power. Since turning professional in 2015 Lagumbay has never developed into a good boxer. He has however been blessed with power. He lost in his debut, to Joe Tejones, before reeling off 8 straight wins with 7 by stoppage, 6 in the first 3 rounds. He almost continued that run when he rocked Kazuki Saito, before Saito bounced back and stopped Lagumbay in 4 rounds. He would score his most notable win just 5 months after that loss, when he stopped Keita Obara in 2 rounds, to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title, in a sensational bout that saw a rare double knockdown. Sadly since that win Lagumbay has gone 3-3-1, and despite winning his last 3, it's hard to know what he has left to offer the sport. Other than his brutish power.
In the ring Lagumbay is slow, clumsy, easy to hit, and whilst his boxing has gradually developed he is still very limited. He has got size going for him, and he is a tall, long, rangy puncher, but technically he's still very limited. He does however have that aforementioned power and he's also a southpaw. No one likes facing hard hitting southpaws, with long reaches and Lagumbay is certainly a freakish puncher who throws from horrible angles and has bricks for hands. He's also a quick starter, and is very, very dangerous over the first 3 rounds. If he doesn't finish and opponent early however, he is likely to be stopped himself, or picked apart at range as wide sweeps take a toll on his own gas tank.
With Lagumbay being dangerous early on we expect to see Hiraoka fighting smartly for the first few rounds, looking to get his jab in Lagumbay's face and staying t range. By round 4 or 5 however we expect to see Hiraoka look to change to tone of the bout, taking the fight to a tiring Lagumbay and taking him out in in the middle rounds. If Lagumbay lands early on he could give Hiraoka real fits, and the focus from the unbeaten man, for 2 or 3 rounds, will be to stay away and keep himself safe. After that however the bout will be as easy, or as hard, as he makes it.
Prediction - TKO6 Hiraoka
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.