Katsuma Akitsugi was doing things differently. The featherweight raced to 10-0 (1 KO) with four of those victories coming against four undefeated prospects with combined stats of 41-0. The ballsy approach has made matching the southpaw problematic, however.

Akitsugi is set to return to the ring on Wednesday (July 10) against Jesus Ramirez Rubio in a 10-round fight at the ProBox TV Events Center in Plant City, Florida, available on the ProBox TV App.

The 26-year-old Akitsugi, who is originally from Japan, moved to California with dreams of becoming a professional boxer despite not speaking English. His coach, Eddie Hernandez, discovered him through a Japanese-speaking client and was immediately impressed by Akitsugi’s potential. Eight years later, Akitsugi and his team believe that with more activity, he can become a world titleholder. He’s been inactive for two years.

“I am excited to see him fight again,” Hernandez said. “I think he could win a world title right now if he had the chance.”

Akitsugi’s opponent, the 28-year-old Rubio (22-3-3, 16 KOs), has been stopped in two of his last three fights by world-level competition. Rubio was knocked out by Ramon Cardenas in the ninth round of his last fight on ProBox TV in April and by current WBA featherweight titlist Nick Ball in the first round of their 2022 bout. This fight will test Akitsugi’s readiness and reveal if ring rust will be a factor after his long layoff.

Hernandez spoke about Akitsugi’s tough road early in his career, reflecting on the significant challenges they faced.

“As a trainer, you see the potential of each fighter,” Hernandez said. “This kid is really on another level. He's willing to take challenges and not be afraid of anybody. It was risky to get the fights, but we saw it as the only way to not duck anybody.”

Akitsugi trains at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, where his idol Manny Pacquiao trained. He has sparred with former WBC featherweight belt-holder Mark Magsayo. Despite his talent, Hernandez noted the difficulty in securing fights for Akitsugi.

“It’s very hard,” Hernandez said. “He’s different. I am not saying he is the best fighter out there, but he is hungry, he is a different kind of fighter. He doesn’t waste his punches, his movement is getting better, his balance is getting better, and there’s more power in his punches.”