Tuesday, December 05, 2023  |



Keita Kurihara is set to finally have his rematch with Froilan Saludar in January

Keita Kurihara - Photo by Makoto Maeda
Fighters Network

World-rated bantamweight Keita Kurihara had expected to mark time against Froilan Saludar in mid-October.  It was a good plan, until he was caught in the opening seconds of the fight. He never recovered and suffered the ignominy of a first-round defeat.

It was a crushing blow to his future plans to fight for a world title. However, it now appears the 30-year-old Japanese fighter will face Saludar in a rematch that will likely take place in either South Korea or The Philippines in January.

“We’re confident going into the rematch,” Hazime Kobayashi of Ichiriki Promotions told The Ring through Loren Goodman. “The problem before the first fight is that we were overconfident and Saludar was in a way more prepared. He was dialed in from the opening bell. Very focused. Afterall, he had nothing to lose.”

Kurihara is doubling down on his intentions to regain his OPBF title and put himself back in the world title picture.

“I threw a half-ass punch and got caught,” admitted Kurihara. “I was thinking I’d watch him, study him for the first round, then go. That was my mistake. He was full on.

“So, now I have to get back what I lost. My goal is still the world title. The only way to get there is to get some payback, like when I fought Chiba the first time, when you lose like this, it’s rough. But what else can you do? You have to climb back in the ring and face it. Whether the fight is in Korea or the Philippines, it doesn’t matter. My goal is to knock him out.”

Saludar (34-7-1, 24 knockouts) turned professional at flyweight in 2009. The one-time prospect went unbeaten in his first 20 outings but was stopped by McWilliams Arroyo (TKO 2). He suffered a second defeat at the hands of Takuma Inoue (UD 10). The now 34-year-old got back in the win column with several wins before getting stopped in a WBO 112-pound title fight by Sho Kimura (KO 6) in China in July 2018.

His form has become patchy since, but he has lost only when he’s stepped up against the likes of Andrew Moloney (UD 10), Daigo Higa (SD 8) and Luis Nery (TKO 2) before surprising Kurihara.

Kurihara (17-8-1, 15 knockouts) turned professional in 2011 and went 3-4 in his first seven fights. He has since turned his career around, going 9-1 before winning the OPBF title. He made one successful defense against former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (KO 1) before losing to Inoue (TD 9).

The inconsistent power-puncher regained his championship against Kazuki Nakajima (KO 3) but lost to Kai Chiba (TKO 12) only to win it back by second-round stoppage before the Saludar snafu.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].