This coming week we see a lot of bigger fights taking place, with world title fights and some really interesting bouts at a domestic type level. Among those is a Japanese bout featuring a former world title challenger essentially fighting to keep his career in the sport alive. It's a must win for him, and one that he will be favoured to win, despite taking a lot of punishment in some recent bouts. His opponent isn't the greatest but will be hungry to make his return to the sport count after close to 2 years out of the ring.
The One to Watch?
Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) Vs Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5)
September 26th (Saturday)
We were big fans of Shun Kubo as he came through the ranks, beating Monico Laurente very early in his career and then beating Luis May 13 months later. He had some easy bouts but he took on enough early tests to interest us before winning the OPBF Super Bantamweight title. From there on we have always followed him quite intently, being fans of his style and his heart. Now knowing his career is on the line after stoppage losses to Daniel Roman and Can Xu we're really interested to see what he has left to off.
The 30 year old Shun Kubo is a former OPBF and WBA "regular" champion at Super Bantamweight. He's a long, rangy boxer who has a really nice style and was once viewed as the successor to Hozumi Hasegawa at the Shinsei Gym. Sadly for his nice style he doesn't have the best of chins, which makes him great value to watch, but the sort of fighter you always worry about falling apart. His heart and determination helped him survive into round 9 with Daniel Roman, despite being dropped numerous times, and his heart also kept him in longer than it needed to against Can Xu last year.
As an outside fighter Kubo is a talented boxer, but he's also a man who gets dragged into wars far too easily and can end up being his own worst enemy.
Of course it takes too to tangle and Takashi Igarashi is not someone to be over-looked here. The 24 year old from Aichi showed potential early on, winning his first 5 bouts before losing to Kyohei Tonomoto in the bout to decide the West Japan representative for the 2014 Rookie of the Year, at Featherweight. Following that loss his career seemed to fall apart and he went from 5-0 (1) to 13-4 (5) before vanishing from the sport in 2018, following an upset loss to Toshiya Yokogawa. We all assumed that was the end of Igarashi as a boxer, aged just 22. Now however he has decided to continue with his career, and will to get back on track as he takes on the former world champion.
For Igarashi this is potentially a case of "right place, right time", and despite his break from the ring he is not an old fighter. He's a man who has had almost 2 years out of the ring to mature and is the naturally bigger man.
What to expect?
We really expect this to be super tense early on. Kubo is, by far, the more skilled fighter and we expect him to try and make that show early on by getting behind his southpaw jab and dictating the distance and tempo. Despite the tense start we see Igarashi making this into a war sooner or later. He doesn't stand a chance boxing with Kubo, but could, potentially, break down the former champion.
As we head into the middle rounds this will hot up, and we expect some fire works.
We do expect Kubo to win, in fact we expect him to stop Igarashi, but we wouldn't be surprised at all if he needs to get through some rough on the way to a victory.
The bad news?
There really isn't too much bad here. The bout will be streamed live on the BOXING REAL YouTube channel, and will be available free and globally. If we are looking for a negative here the only thing we can think about is the fact the bout will likely be over-shadowed by the other bouts from the day, including the WBO Atomweight title fight on the same show. We think that will be a more exciting bout than this one, despite this non-title bout being the show's main event.
For those that will watch this one, it will be shown on the BOXING REAL YouTube channel.
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.