Our "One to Watch..." is all about pointing a light on an upcoming fight that deserves more attention than we typically give it. Ususually these are fights involving styles that should gel, or a prospect on the way up, or even a veteran in what could be the final fight of their career. It is, for all intents, a chance for us to talk about a contest that we're not doing a typical preview for, but we still want to help make fans aware of. This week we get a fight that ticks lots of boxes at once. It has an emerging prospect in action against a fun to watch veteran in what should be a very, very entertaining contest.
The One to Watch?
Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) vs Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4)
September 21st (Saturday)
We have a hard hitting and fast rising prospect against a tough veteran who has never been stopped. We have a 21 year old puncher, against a 35 year old pressure fighter. We have an uneaten man stepping up against someone now fighting for their career. We have the ingredients for something very, very exciting. Kaneko has pretty much had things his own way in recent fights, not coming close to a loss since his first bout with Shota Irie in early 2016, but Yun is a nightmare for everyone and nobody has ever had an easy time with him. This is a gut check for the youngster and a chance for Yun to add one final Hurrah to his thoroughly entertaining career.
The 21 year old Kudura Kaneko is a Afghan born Japanese based boxer-puncher. He debuted at the age of 17, after having had almost no amateur fights, and rose through the ranks relatively quickly for such a novice. He won the Japanese youth title in 2018, in his second fight against Change Hamashima, and has since added notable wins over Toshio Arikawa and Rikuto Adachi to his record. Entering this bout he is ranked #3 by the JBC and is likely to get a senior title fight in 2020, if he can get past Yun here. He's strong, a bit basic, but heavy handed and technically solid, though has plenty of areas to work on.
Yun on the other hand is a 35 year old veteran who has more than 12 years of professional experience. Although no world beater Yun is one of the great servants to the Japanese domestic scene and has proven to be a mainstay since his 2008 Rookie of the Year triumph. Back in his Rookie days he was fighting at 140lbs, but has since grown into the Welterweight division, where he has been since 2011. During his career he has beaten the likes of Daisuke Sakamoto, Takehiro Shimokawara, Tetsuya Suzuki, Nobuyuki Shindo and Shusaku Fujinaka. Sadly Yun has picked up losses, though has run the likes of Suyon Takayama, Koichi Aso, Ryota Yada and Ma Roo Jung all very close. He's an in face, all action fighter, who has always given so much value.
What to expect?
Kaneko will be looking to fight behind his jab, control the distance and open up Yun's defense for his right hand. That however will be much, much tougher than it seems and Yun will be looking to crush the distance, cramp Kaneko up and work on the inside. This could cause an ugly fight, if Kaneko ends up holding and fighting negatively, of could force Kaneko into fighting Yun's fight.
If we see Kaneko holding, spoiling and looking to the referee to keep them apart, this could be a real stinker and a horror to watch. In Japan however referees don't tend to break fighters as quickly as they do in the West and we could end up with the referee allowing Yun to work up close and begin force Kaneko into a fire fight. If that happens we'd expect a very tough bout for Kaneko and one that could see him being really tested mentally.
Alternatively we could see Kaneko decide, from the early going, that he's going to trade with Yun and if that happens we're going to be in for something amazing. Yun's toughness and pressure could break Kaneko, on the other hand Kaneko's power, physical strength and nasty straight straight, could end up breaking down the 35 year old. Yun has had a long career, and one more hard battle could well be too much for his body.
Expect action, excitement and a lot of fantastic back and forth trading!
The bad news?
Whilst the bout is available live, it is hidden behind a pay wall with the bout being aired on Boxing Raise, a service we're huge fans of but a paid service all the same. This will limit the amount of viewers who will get to watch it. Despite that limitation it is on a stacked card and the for fans wanting a value for money, this show is worth paying for a month of Boxing Raise for.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.