I confess, “Japanese Fight of the Century” is a slight exaggeration, but on Sunday, what some reckon might be the biggest fight in Japan in about 40 years is happening. Since we already had a “Polish Fight of the Century” and a “New Zealand Fight of the Century,” in 2009, I’m trying to get a third one in there this year. Everyone, please call it the “Japanese Fight of the Century.” Thanks.
We’ll go all the way from today to Wednesday of next week for this particular roundup of the fight schedule. We’ll exclude Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade II and Joan Guzman-Ali Funeka, already previewed. And take note: TQBR will, next week, have correspondents in place at THREE different boxing events.
- Daisuke Naito-Koki Kameda, Sunday, Japan. The picture above is of Naito being body-slammed by Kameda’s little brother, Daiki, in what was one of 2007’s weirdest events. That gave Naito-Koki some serious grudge match heat, especially since Koki had encouraged Daiki to elbow Naito in the eye and generally behaves like a flamboyant asshole, thereby making himself a very high-profile figure. Naito is the top flyweight in the world, and Ring magazine ranked Koki at #6. Naito is the far more experienced of the two, having waged a four-fight sequence with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam from 2002 to 2008 where Naito went 1-2-1. There’s nothing as compelling as that on Koki’s resume, although he did controversially beat Juan Jose Landaeta to win a junior flyweight title then won the rematch more decisively. But the sense is that Koki can fight a little bit, even at 23, and “35-year-old flyweight,” a term that describes Naito, is a rare description for a top-flight fighter. I’m gonna try to find a stream of this one somewhere
- Versus Doubleheader, next Wednesday — Roy Jones, Jr.-Danny Green, Australia; Bernard Hopkins-Enrique Ornelas, Philadelphia. We’re scheduled to have a couple guest posts from one of our friends down under, ALEXMAC, on the Jones-Green cruiserweight fight, so I won’t say much here about it. Hopkins-Ornelas at light heavyweight is just a tune-up fight for Hopkins’ March showdown with Jones, a rematch 17 years in the making. I personally see little chance of Green or Ornelas getting in the way of that. Green is more live than Ornelas, a middleweight for most of his career who’s tough but far too basic to bother the tricky veteran Hopkins, unless Hopkins’ agelessness ceases to be all a sudden on that night. In addition to being in Atlantic City for the middleweight Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez fight, I’m credentialed media for Hopkins-Ornelas.
- John Molina-Martin Honorio, Showtime, Saturday, California. Molina, a lightweight, is one of the most fun prospects in the sport. He goes all out. Real brawly, this one. Honorio is not a lightweight – he’s fought at junior lightweight or featherweight most of his career. To his credit, he beat Rogers Mtagwa, a win that looks better after Mtagwa gave Juan Manuel Lopez a heavy does of hellfire in October. To his noncredit, he got blasted out in one round by Robert Guerrero nine pounds lighter than he’ll be Saturday. Still, this is a step-up fight for Molina, who in his last fight dispatched most easily of Efren Hinojosa in one round, another Guerrero conquest – albeit one where Guerrero took eight rounds to win.
- The Rest. Delvin Rodriguez on Friday is already back in a IBF welterweight title eliminator, against Rafal Jackiewicz, a mere fight after losing to Isaac Hlatshwayo in a fight for the then-vacant IBF title. Jackiewicz is the guy who upset Jackson Bonsu last year… On the Hopkins-Ornelas undercard, prospects Karl Dargan (lightweight) – of Fight Night Club – and Danny Garcia (junior welterweight) – of ESPN2 and assorted Golden Boy undercards – fight . Garcia’s opponent, Enrique Colin, has been in with some decent guys. Dargan’s too inexperienced for a move like that, so his opponent is 2-3-2.