OPBF lightweight title
Yoshitaka Kato 25(7)-4-1 vs. Rey Labao 24(16)-4
People often forget that Asia possesses quality lightweights. Nihito Arakawa, for instance, forced Omar Figueroa into a fight. Arakawa is not an anomaly. He’s a product of a very good Japanese domestic scene.
Just as good as Arakawa is Kato. Kato is the reigning OPBF titlist, and previously defended the Japanese lightweight title 5 times.
Sadly, it’s nearly impossible for me to examine video on Kato, but I do know this: he’s undefeated in his last 8 fights punctuated by his win over multi-title challenger Motoki Sasaki. With a few more defenses of his OPBF title, it’s a matter of time before he gets a chance at a world title.
Labao is in the same boat as Kato. Since losing to current IBO world titlist WIll Tomlinson, Labao has been on a 5 fight win streak, with his last 4 fights won by KO. Now that he’s outgrown the Filipino domestic scene, he wants to make an impression abroad.
With a sharp punch, Labao has devastating body shots that slow his opponents down. Kato will need to keep to the perimeter, outboxing Labao with the jab.
Prediction: Kato by UD.
Yukinori Oguni 10(2)-1 vs. Yuki Iwasaki 11(6)-3
It looked like Oguni was a solid prospect, but then he got got stopped by Shingo Wake last March. So while Oguni did win against Roli Gasca and Masaaki Serie, he needs to step back and rebuild his career.
Iwasaki is a good place to start because he has a history of testing prospects. Most of them do not win against Iwasaki. When Iwasaki loses, it always close.
Now Oguni should have potential on world level, but it may also be possible that Oguni is a flash in the pan. If he is, we’ll soon find out.
Prediction: Oguni by UD.