This weeks one to watch is not likely to be one on the radar for many fans, but it's one we think could provide both action, excitement and be a hotly contested bout. It's one that is easy to over-look, but could be very, very interesting.
The One to Watch?
Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) vs Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5)
October 14th (Wednesday)
Although it's not the highest profile bout we'll get this weekend we believe this could be a bit of a sleeper classic between two men each needing a big performance, and each capable of delivering it. One one hand we have a touted hopeful who has struggled to get going, and on the other we have a fighter who's career has stalled, but we've seen enough of him to know he can make a go of things. In both corners we have a man looking for a win, and we have men who's styles should gel fantastically.
Kadoebi promoted Yoji Saito turned professional with some pretty lofty expectations on his shoulders. Sadly a loss to Shu Utsuki on his debut prevented him from getting off to a winning start, despite the bout being a tremendous fight. Since then Saito has has gone unbeaten, but has only managed a single win, a stoppage of Tameji Ito. Despite his struggle to get victories he has consistently been in thrilling bouts, including his 2019 war with Aso Ishiwaki.
In the ring Saito is a strong, powerful lump. He's not the smoothest, he's got questionable stamina, but boy does he know how to fight. He's blessed with heavy, thudding hands, impressive physical strength, really gritty toughness and a fighters mentality.
On paper Masashi Wakita looks really limited, and has won less than half of his career bouts. Despite his record the man from the Mitsuki Gym shouldn't be written off. Wakita is a freakishly tall Super Featherweight, standing at 5'11" he's also a southpaw, with a nice jab, under-rated power and a questionable chin. He's got reach, skills, the ability to box at range and under-rated counter punching skills. He also has valuable expecerience against good domestic competition.
Sadly for Wakita his biggest issue isn't isn't his skills, it's his toughness, or rather the relative lack of it. During his 21 fight career he has been stopped 5 times, and he's actually been stopped 4 times in his last 6 bouts. Whilst that's not great he has been matched hard, with losses to the likes of Shawn Oda, Satoru Sugita and Ryusei Ishii. He has also given the likes of Spicy Matsushita and Yuichiro Kasuya very close contests.
What to expect?
We expect to see Saito coming forward, pressing, pressuring and trying to get to Wakita from the early going. Wakita on the other hand will box, move, and try to avoid a tear up. It question will be "how long before Wakita gets dragged into Saito's fight?"
If Saito can cut the distance from the off this could be short, explosive and brutally one sided with Saito stopping Wakita. The longer it goes however the better things are for Wakita, and his movement, clean accurate punching and reach will make live progressively tougher for Saito. If Wakita lasts more than 4 rounds he will give Saito absolute fits in what will becoming a very, very compelling and competitive contest.
The bad news?
Unfortunately this won't be shown live, and instead we'll need to be patient. Also the bout will be available first on Boxing Raise, limiting the viewership, though Kadoebi do tend to upload their bouts to YouTube in the weeks following. Alko if Saito gets his way this could be a very, very short bout.
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.