By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
In just over two week’s time, the Japanese trio of Kohei Maeda, Reo Yamaguchi and Teruhiko Kato will challenge to claim three titles for their country at the inaugural IMMAF Oceania Open Championships.
22-year-old Maeda (pictured) will lead team Japan’s campaign in Melbourne as the senior IMMAF competitor and a standout contender within Japan’s national amateur scene.
Currently ranked 29th in the IMMAF Men’s featherweight world rankings, Maeda has persevered despite facing top caliber opposition at the IMMAF World Championships in 2016 and 2017. Competing on the international platform for the first time at Las Vegas 2016, Maeda went the distance with one of the year’s top young prospects, Sweden’s Daniel Schalander, who swooped to win gold at the 2016 European Open in Prague.
At last year’s World Championships in Bahrain, Maeda produced a spirited effort when drawn against Abdulmanap Magomedov in the opening round of bouts. Magomedov had already picked up the 2017 African and Asian Open titles, and entered the 2017 Worlds as the number-one seed for Bahrain at -145lbs.
Maeda battled through all three rounds with the tournament favorite, losing out to a unanimous decision with Magomedov going on to earn the bronze medal. Maeda’s shot at starting the year with an IMMAF championship medal could be the breakthrough that sees him build momentum towards the upper rankings and future seeded positions.
Maeda will be joined at the Oceania Open by two newcomers to the international scene: 29-year-old Teruhiko Kato enters the Men’s Lightweight bracket with past domestic success behind him, while Reo Yamaguchi contends for the Men’s Bantamweight title, featuring as the event’s second youngest contender at 18-years-old.
Kicking off IMMAF’s 2018 events circuit, the Oceania Open Championships take place from 16-18 March at the Arnold Sports Festival in Melbourne, Australia.
For more tournament details on the IMMAF Oceania Open visit MyNextMatch.com