Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Let's be honest April started like a month on fire with a lot of action in the first few days of the month, and it's been nice to have a few days to catch our breath. But we're back on April 8th with the next show from Korakuen Hall and it's one that we're really excited about. It features a Japanese title bout, the Japanese debut of a highly regarded prospect and the next bout in the career of a very exciting puncher!
The exciting puncher in question is Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6), who came runner up in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Since his Rookie run he has fought just 19 seconds, blowing Kensuke Nakamura out last September. Here he will be up against the decent Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) in a scheduled 6 rounder. Akaiwa started 2020 with a career best win, stopping Kenta Endo, but ended the year having been blitzed in 45 seconds by the destructive Jin Sasaki. We suspect Fujita will try to replicate Sasaki, and this could mean we get a very, very explosive match up. If you're in the venue for this one don't blink!
The prospect making his Japanese debut is Go Hosaka (4-0, 3), who fought his first 4 bouts in the Philippines under the guidance of the now defunct ALA Promotions. Since ALA folded, in 2020, he has signed with Misako in Japan and will be looking to show what he can do as he takes on Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5). So far in his career Hosaka has looked like a fantastic prospect, with lovely technical skills, sharp punching and good movement, though he hasn't really had to answer too many questions in his 4 fights so far. Fukui has proven to be a decent fighter on his day, had success in the 2018 Rookie of the Year, pushed Shuma Nakazato close and held Yoji Saito to a draw. He is however 2-2-1 in his last 5 and lacks the technical tools that Hosaka has. For a first fight in Japan this is a genuine test for Hosaka, but one he should pass, albeit one he'll have to work for.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) make his first defense, following his title win in February 2020, as he takes on the tough Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12). The 34 year old champion had sadly been out of the ring for well over a year now and his hopes of securing another big international fight, like his 2016 world title bout with Eduard Troyanovsky, appear to be over. As for Sakai he only made his Japanese debut last August and this will be his third fight on Japanese soil. Aged 30 Sakai is the younger man, but certainly has more miles on the clock and is very much a fighter who has taken significant punishment during his career. The styles here should gel well, with Sakai being a pressure fighter, marching forward and Obara being a rangy boxer, and we expect some genuinely exciting action here. The winner of this likely gets a defense towards the end of the year but for the loser, it's really hard to see where to go, and we suspect retirement may loom if either man gets stopped. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Obara faces Sakai in first Japanese title defense!