For the third time in 4 weeks we take our focus and put it on Heavyweight action, and this time we go all the way over to the UK for "The Fight Before Christmas". The bout is a real oddity in many ways, and will be the first time a former Japanese Heavyweight champion has fought in Europe, and will also see said Japanese Heavyweight take on one of the sports rising stars.
The One to Watch?
Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1, 13) Vs Daniel Dubois (13-0, 12)
December 21st (Saturday)
Japanese Heavyweights rarely make any mark at all on the sport, in fact only 2 days before this article goes live we had a very rare Japanese Heavyweight title fight that we suspect very few people outside of Japan were even aware of! This weekend however we see the highest profile bout to ever feature a Japanese Heavyweight, win or lose this is pretty significant bout for Japanese boxing.
Japanese 33 year old Kyotaro Fujimoto is the second ever man to have held the Japanese Heavyweight title, though he went much further than his "predecessor" Noburu Kataoka who won the title in 1957 and failed do anything with it. During his reign Fujimoto made 4 defenses before unifying it with the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles, to essentially become the undisputed champion of the Asia, Oriental and Pacific region. His reign, with all 3 titles, wasn't hugely impressive but getting to the point of becoming a triple champion at Heavyweight was notable for the former kick boxer turned professional wrestler turned professional boxer.
Unbeaten Englishman Daniel Dubois is regarded by many as one of the very best Heavyweight prospects on the planet, and the 22 year old "Dynamite" had been cutting a swathe through his opponents in recent fights. His last 4 opponents have lasted a combined 12 rounds in total and only Kevin Johnson has managed to last more than 6 rounds with Dubois. Despite being very destructive and heavy handed the Englishman has a lot of questions still to answer before mixing at world level. We've rarely seen him tagged, though Richard Lartey did seem to buzz him, and we've never seen him being forced to fight at his opponents pace. However what we have seen has been excellent from the young Englishman who looks like a star in the making.
What to expect?
Those who don't see much Japanese boxing will likely assume that Kyotaro is usually a face first, come forward fighter who takes one to land one. For many that is the stereo typical Japanese fighter, even in this era of highly skilled Japanese boxer-punchers. Kyotaro is a million miles away from that stereotype. He is very much a fighter who is happy to get on the back foot, move, dodge dive and stay away from his opponents when he can. It was a tactic he used with success in K1 and has had success with in professional boxing. The thing is that works perfectly when you're the quicker man, facing lumbering and slow fighters like Herman Ene Purcell and Nathan McKay. It doesn't work when your opponent can cut the ring off, has power, and throws combinations.
We expect Kyotaro will try his usual schtick of moving, but it won't be particularly effective against Dubois who will take a round, if needed, to figure out Kyotaro's game plan and will then turn up the pressure. Kyotaro might have some moments of success, but they will be short lived and Dubois should take him out within 3 or 4 rounds, at most.
The bad news?
The bad news is rather obvious here. This will not end well for Kyotaro. If he manages to make it to the half way point that would be a huge moral victory. The good thing is that he gets the big fight he has craved, it's just a shame it's not going to be a fight that ends with his arm being raised.
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.