One of the best things about boxing is the variety of styles that fighters have, from the ultra-aggressive swarmers, to the intelligent counter punchers, the fighters who can bang and those who are more feather fisted. This coming Saturday we'll see an IBF Super Featherweight title fight between two men with remarkably different styles, matching a boxer-puncher with a slick defensive master, and it's going to be really interesting to see who will win the title, and be crowned the new champion.
The bout in question will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (22-1, 17) take on elusive American Southpaw Tevin Farmer (25-4-1, 5). It will be offense against defense, power against movement.
Of the two the one we have followed more is Ogawa and he's a man who's had an interesting career. Despite only losing once he has had some ups and downs and at times has failed to shine, whilst at others he has looked like a potential star for the Teiken gym. Aged 29 he's a fighter who is in his physical prime and has gotten to this level without any notable amateur background. Instead he's worked hard in the gym, worked with his natural talent and made the most of his physical attributes, including heavy hands.
Ogawa debuted back in 2010 and would go on to claim the All Japan Rookie of the Year title the following year, whilst running his record to 7-0 (5). His sole loss came the following year, when Yuki Miyoshi stopped him in 5 rounds due to an injury to the jaw of Ogawa. Since that loss the Teiken man has gone 14-0 (11), avenged the loss to Miyoshi and claimed the Japanese title, courtesy of a technical decision over Rikki Naito.
As the national champion Ogawa defended the title 5 times, going 5-0 (3) during his reign, but had question marks asked in two wins over Satoru Sugita, as well as defenses against Kento Matsushita and Rikki Naito. In some ways the performances as champion seemed to suggest that Ogawa had maybe plateaued as a fighter and had holes in his game, especially defensively, that weren't being fixed. Against Sugita and Matsushita it seemed like Ogawa struggled with movement, a busy jab and fighters who weren't trying to exchange with him. Those who exchanged with him felt his power, and tended to be stopped, with Ogawa having a vicious left hook and a spiteful straight right hand, but those who moved gave him fits.
Whilst Ogawa is a big puncher with some defensively and technical flaws it's fair to saw that Farmer is the total opposite. He's a very light puncher, but he's razor sharp, with incredible defensive instincts and some of the best upper body movement in boxing today. Not only that but he also has one of the sports more misleading records, with 4 defeats to his name and a draw. Those setbacks all came in his first 12 bouts, when he was 7-4-1 (1), and included losses to very good fighters like Kamil Laszczyk and Jose Pedraza.
Since suffering his last loss Ogawa has gone 18-0 (4), stringing together wins over notable opponents like Daulis Prescott, Gamaliel Diaz and Ivan Redkach, and proving his ability as a very intelligent defensive fighter, who uses reflexes and movement very well. Although not a big puncher he hits harder than his record suggests, and his clean, as he showed against Prescott and Diaz, who were both down a number of times against him. In the ring he looks a natural, his understanding of range is brilliant and he uses some very unorthodox skills to catch his opponents in unusual ways.
Whilst we could rave about Farmer's skills all day he does look under-sized at 130lbs, and although very elusive in terms of his defense it does seem like a fighter could physically rough him up, bully him around and generally hold and wrestle him. He'll be giving away several inches to Ogawa and when hydrated Ogawa will likely have a significant weight advantage as well.
We'd love to see Ogawa win, and become the new Japanese face at 130lbs, but the reality is his last few performances have shown a lot of flaws, and those flaws will be exploited massively but Farmer. There is a chance Ogawa catches the American with something big, or has a game plan based bullying Farmer, but we suspect the American will frustrate, out box, out move and out point Ogawa to a 12 round decision.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Not all Asian born fighters fight in Asia and one such case is the Afghan born Canadian Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10).
Although Usmanee was born in in the war torn country of Afghanistan in the west of Asia he and his family would move to Canada when he was just a child.
It was in Canada that Usmanee would become a fighter and his talent was obvious as he won 5 national titles.
Usmanee now looks to become the first Afghan born fighter to claim a professional boxing world title* as he takes on talented Dominican Argenis Mendez (21-2, 11) for the IBF Super Featherweight title.
Although this is a big step up for Usmanee he's a fighter than many feel should have an unbeaten record and be viewed as a genuine contender. His run of recent bouts have been against a string of fringe contenders and his most recent contest, albeit a controversial loss, with Rances Barthelemy was a performance that showed Usmanee to be a fighter capable of fighting at the highest level.
So far in his career Usmanee has, aside from the Barthelemy fight, been a bit under-the radar. Despite this he's proven to be a tough, determined fighter, and although not a huge hitter he is technically sound and able to switch from head to body very easily. In fact it's fair to say his body attack is one of his most notable qualities.
The twice beaten Mendez is widely regarded as one of the world's premier Super Featherweights with most independent rankings rating him as the #2 guy in the division with only Takashi Uchiyama ahead of him.
Mendez is a technically gifted fighter who, at his best, looks like a very special boxer. He poses quick hands which have more sting on them than his record would indicate and of course he's very well schooled.
The schooling of Mendez has been a long and arduous task . He was, prior to turning professional in 2006, a stand out amateur with a reported 250 contests under his belt, including bouts at the Olympics, World Amateur Championships and Pan American championships. Although he often came up short, his losses were, on the whole, to tremendous fighters like Guillermo Rigondeaux, Aleksei Tishchenko and Juan Manuel Lopez.
Since turning professional Mendez has blown a bit hot and cold. At his best he'd give Japanese fighter Uchiyama a very hard night, at his worst he struggles over gatekeepers like Martin Honorio.
Although Mendez has got 2 losses on his record both were controversial. The first came via split decision to Jaime Sandoval in a bout where Mendez was certainly not at his best and the second came to Juan Carlos Salgado in Mexico, a man he has since stopped in very impressive fashion.
If Mendez looks like the fighter who stopped Salgado in 4 rounds back in March this is going to be a very hard contest for Usmanee. If Mendez blows cold and over-looks Usmanee then the Afghan born fighter could well score the upset and become the first man born in Afghanistan to claim a recognised world title.
With the fight being in Mendez's adoptive state of New York we expect him to have on his game face and put on a show. Unfortunately this doesn't bode well for Usmanee who will have to find an extra gear if he's to hold his own with an "on form" Mendez.
*Hamid Rahimi won lightly regarded the World Boxing Union interim Middleweight title in February 2012. It's fair however to ignore the WBU from being a "genuine world title".
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.