The Asian Middleweight scene may not be the most exciting, especially considering that the world class Gennady Golovkin and the fast rising Ryota Murata have no intention of facing regional foes, but it is relatively interesting with a unified Japanese and OPBF champion.
Today those unified titles were successfully defended by the best fighter competing on the regional scene, the world ranked Akio Shibata (26-8-1, 12)
Shibata retained his titles by scoring an 8th round stoppage against the gutsy, determined but thoroughly outclassed Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-5-1, 8).
The champion started well, using his excellent jab and sharp straights to hammer the face of the challenger. The shots from Shibata took a swift effect and it wasn't long before Akiyama's left eye was showing signs of damage. The damage was one of two problems the challenger had, with the other being the fact Shibata was winning the rounds.
After 4 rounds the opening scoring, which is used in Japan for OPBF title fights, had Shibata comfortably in the lead with scores of 40-36, twice, and 39-37.
The scores seemed to drive on Akiyama who tried to turn things around. Unfortunately for him the change in tactics played into Shibata's hands allowing the champion to land more clean and sharp shots, particularly to the damaged eye of the challenger. The damage worsened and in round 8 the referee waved off the contest under the advice of the ringside doctor.
From what we understand Shibata is expected back in the ring in December to face Koki Tyson Maebara in what could be an explosive contest give the style of Maebara.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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