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Asian Faces: Shun Kubo

Scott Graveson

Scott watches countless hours of boxing each week. His specialty is Asian Boxing and he covers the Asian scene on both Ringnews24 and Asian Boxing. His articles are very insightful and anyone who doesn’t follow the Asian scene can keep up-to-date by reading his articles.

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This past week saw Shinsei Gym announce a show for April 9th at the EDION Arena Osaka, in Osaka City Osaka Prefecture. The under-card for the show is set to be a really deep one, with a Japanese and OPBF title fight set for the card, but the big talking point revolved around the main event, which will Shinsei’s very own Shun Kubo (11-0, 8) fight for the WBA “regular” Super Bantamweight title.

The 26 year old from Kobe has been touted as the spiritual successor to former Japanese star Hozumi Hasegawa, who retired at the end of last year as the WBC Super Bantamweight champion, and will be looking to become the new face of the Masato Yamashita lead gym. If he can over-come Cermeno he would instantly become a new star in and around Hyogo prefecture, and could become one of the new staples for Kansai TV, a sister channel of the Tokyo based Fuji TV.

Kubo’s amateur career saw him fighting in 48 bouts before turning professional. Back in the amateur ranks he made a name for himself fighting in the university tournaments but never really shone as a future world champion. Through his 48 fight amateur career he went 30-18, a less than stellar record, but one that helped him develop the skills to gain a B licence ahead of his pro debut in May 2013.

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As a professional Kubo debuted in on May 17th ’13 at the Kobe Central gym, where he made a quick and stopped Sarawut Yenchanthuek in the second round of their scheduled 6 rounder. Less than 4 months later Kubo returned to the ring and despatched Naranivat Jullabut inside a round.

Just 6 months after his debut we saw Kubo take a major step up in class as he faced off with experienced Filipino Monico Laurente. Although relatively unknown outside of the Oriental region Laurente was a solid regional fighter who had been the Philippines Games & Amusement Board Bantamweight champion and had shared the ring with the likes of Tomoki Kameda, Malcom Tunacao and Pungluang Sor Singyu. Despite the step up Kubo cruised to a victory over 8 round to establish himself as one to watch.

In 2014, much like 2013, we saw Kubo score two low tier stoppage wins to begin the year before stepping up. The first of those wns saw him score a 4th round KO against Thailand’s Nongdear Sor Bangkharu which was followed up by a 4th round TKO win against Filipino Renren Pasignahin. To end the year Kubo took on world ranked Mexican Luis May, who had a WBC #11 ranking at the time. In the first round May showed that he was dangerous and had come to upset the talented youngster, scoring a knockdown in the opening round. Sadly for May though he would struggle to ever build on that moment of success and Kubo would himself score a knockdown the following round. From then on May never found any real success as Kubo out boxed, out moved and out skilled the Mexican to a clear decision win.

The win over May saw more attention move towards the then 6-0 (4) Kubo,who moved into the world rankings soon afterwards. By the time Kubo returned to the ring, in May 2015, he was ranked #14 by the WBC. On his return to the ring he took on his first domestic opponent, Masajiro Honda, and although Honda provided some challenge Kubo saw him off in round 7 to continue his rie. A few months later he blew away Jakarachlek Sor Wankaew in just 54 seconds. As with the previous years he ended up fighting his most notable opponent late in the year, taking on Filipino Lloyd Jardeliza for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, which had been vacated by Shingo Wake.

The bout with Jardeliza, which took place on December 26th 2015, was Kubo’s first title bout and he took his opportunity with both hands, stopping the Filipino in the 5th round. The Japanese fighter had looked comfortable prior to the stoppage but made a statement in the manner in which he finished off his man.

Kubo’s first defense of the OPBF title was a less than great performance as he took a decision over the unexpectedly competitive Benjie Suganob. Prior to facing Kubo Japanese fans had seen Suganob defeat Kubo’s stable mate Seizo Kono, and although that result had been an upset few really expected Suganob to pose a threat to Kubo, though it did seem like the Shinsei man over-looked Suganob a little bit in their bout.
Kubo looked more himself in his second defense of the OPBF title as he saw off Korean challenger Jin Wook Lim,who had been given special permission to fight in an OPBF title bout by the KBC due to his political boxing situation in Korea, where he was registered as a KBF fighter. Although Lim had been given special permission to fight Kubo he couldn’t test the Japanese fighter who stopped him in 4 rounds.

In the ring Kubo is a highly skilled fighter. He’s fast, patient and makes the most of his height and reach. His lack of experience is a downfall, but he has been mentored by the team at Shinsei, and worked with Hasegawa who will have helped with Kubo’s development. Despite only having had 11 professional bouts he has already completed a 12 rounder and been 8 rounds twice. It may not match up to the experience of a man like Nehomar Cermeno, who Kubo will be facing on April 9th, but it’s more experience than a number of fast rising Japanese fighters have had in recent years and Kubo’s team will be confident their man is ready to become a world champion.

(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)

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