We don't see many Japanese fighters making their name above Super Featherweight, this Friday however we get the chance to see Light Welterweight Keita Obara (16-1-1, 15) challenge unbeaten Russian Eduard Troyanovsky (24-0, 21) for the IBF title, in a mandatory title fight.
The Russian won the title last November, stopping the then unbeaten Cesar Rene Cuenca for the belt in 6 rounds. That was Cuenca's first defense, following his title win against Ik Yang, and the Argentinian was simply unable to ever get Troyanovsky's respect. A rematch this past April followed a similar patter with Troyanovsky stopping Cuenca in 7 rounds, to record his first defense.
In the ring the Russian is a somewhat limited boxer blessed with frightening power. He can be out boxed and out moved, with his 36 year old legs not being the most sprightly, however he does cut the ring down well and if a fighter can't get his respect he doesn't mind taking one to land one. He key strength however is his power and it is vicious, with his last 14 wins all coming by T/KO, and in fact he has stopped 20 of his last 21 opponents.
Although powerful the champion is 36 years old, his work rate isn't great and he certainly hasn't got a high energy level or lighting speed. Also at 5'8” he's not naturally a big fighter at 140lbs. He's just very strong and very powerful
For Obara the bout will be only his second bout outside of Japan, with the first being his very controversial draw with Walter Castillo, in what was an IBF eliminator. In that bout he showed his skills to an international audience and clearly deserved the win over 12 rounds, most of which were clearly won by the Japanese fighter. Prior to that bout Obara had claimed the Japanese and OPBF title and had ran up 15 straight wins following a loss on debut back in 2010.
Like Troyanovsky the key strength of Obara is his power which has been responsible for 15 of his 16 career wins. He keeps that power late into a fight, as seen in his 12th round TKO win against Shinya Iwabuchi, but doesn't actually depend on the power and is instead a decent all round boxer who has solid boxing skills to go with his power. He's not defensively the best but he isn't clumsy when it comes to protecting himself.
Obara's sole loss came on debut when he ran out of stamina, after actually dropping his opponent. It was a humbling loss and one that has seen him really work on his flaws. In many ways it was the perfect loss and has lead to him becoming a better fighter faster in his career. Since that loss no one has really troubled him and he has rarely shown what he can truly do. Here we're expecting him to show his best and, hopefully, come home with the title.
The key for Obara will be using his size, speed and movement to not only get the respect of Troyanovsky but also to land the heavy leather needed to beat the Russian. For Troyanovsky the key is patience waiting for the opportunity to land his fearsome power shots. If Troyanovsky can land clean then there is a really serious chance he will be able to stop Obara, if he can't stop him we suspect the score-cards will favour the Russian. With that in mind we suspect that Obara will be looking for a stoppage, probably in the second half of the fight, making the most of the fact Troyanovsky has little experience going beyond 7 rounds.
The odds are in favour of the Russian but we suspect Obara will score the upset here, with the bout being unlikely to go the distance either way.
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.