By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Based on the trend established in the last six major ring confrontations between Japanese and Filipino fighters, most with titles at stake since the second half of last year till recently, both Naoya Inoue and Junto Nakatani are favored to win over Johnriel Casimero and Giemel Magramo, respectively this April.
Inoue is set to collide with Casimero on April 25, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada in the main event of a Top Rank Promotion fight card with Inoue’s WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine lineal and Casimero’s WBO world bantamweight titles on the line.
Inoue has a record of 19 wins, 16 by knockout with no losses or draws compared to Casimero’s 24 wins, 20 by knockout against four defeats, one by knockout. He is coming off his biggest win thus far in his young career over the legendary Pinoy multi-division world titlist Nonito Donaire last November.
Before this, Nakatani, likewise undefeated as Inoue with a 20-0, 15 KOs record, will clash with Magramo (24-1, 20 KOs ) on April 4, 2020 at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan for the vacant WBO flyweight title left by another unbeaten Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka.
Nakatani has defeated five previous Filipino opponents including former world titlist Milan Melindo and Philip Luis Cuerdo whom he both stopped last year.
From late 2018 through the third quarter of 2019, Filipino fighters through Donnie Nietes, Vic Saludar and Jerwin Ancajas proved superior to their Japanese opponents in world title fights but the trend has turned in favor of the Japanese fighters by the second half of last year.
It started with Kazuto Ioka beating Aston Palicte by technical knockout in September 2019 to win the WBO super flyweight title. Ioka was the same fighter Nietes narrowly outpointed in November 2018 for the same title vacated earlier by Inoue himself before Nietes himself decided to relinquish than defend it against fellow Pinoy Palicte.
Next came Inoue’s unanimous decision win over Donaire in their high profile World Boxing Super Series bantamweight finals in Saitama, Japan in November where Inoue apart from winning the prestigious Muhammad Ali Trophy and the Ring Magazine lineal championship belt, added Donaire’s WBA super title to his IBF and WBA regular belts.
In December, undefeated WBC light flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji took on former WBC interim titlist Randy Petalcorin and successfully defended his title by easy knockout victory.
Before that, Ryosuke Iwasa stopped Marlon Tapales in the eighth round in a battle between two former world titlists to win the IBF interim super bantamweight championship in New York, USA. Iwasa is reportedly being eyed by newly crowned WBA and IBF unified super bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmdaliev of Uzbekistan as title challenger.
Entering the new year, two more important ring clashes between Japanese and Filipino fighters have occurred, both won by the warriors from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Last February 15, Sho Kimura and Merlito Sabillo clashed in another battle between former world titlists as main attraction of a locally promoted card at the Manila Arena in Sta Ana, Manila with Kimura winning by second round knockout.
The day before, Ryoji Fukunaga (14-4, 14 KOs) wrested the WBO Asia Pacific super flyweight title from Froilan Saludar (33-4, 22 KOs) via seventh round technical knockout in Japan.
Given this worrisome trend, Casimero has again to buck the odds while Magramo has to exceed all expectations given that he will be up against a taller and talented young opponent who the Ring Magazine itself has a highly promising prospect a year or so ago.
Let us hope for another turn of events.