Back in March we reported that Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (7-2-1, 3) [이중경] would make his first defense of the OPBF Light Middleweight title on April 14th against Japanese puncher Akinori Watanabe (37-7-1, 31) [渡部あきのり], in Seoul. Sadly however that bout has now needed to be rescheduled.
According to those in charge at the KBF the official the reason for the postponement is a "double shoulder rotator muscle injury" to the champion.
At the moment there is no set recovery time, though it does seem likely the bout will be rescheduled to July at the earliest, given the seriousness of the injury.
We'll report any updates on this as soon as we have them.
Earlier today we were informed that Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (7-2-1, 3) [이중경] would be making his first defense of the OPBF Light Middleweight title on April 14th, as he takes on Japanese puncher Akinori Watanabe (37-7-1, 31) [渡部あきのり], in Seoul.
Lee, who won the title earlier this year when he stopped Samuel Colomban, will be looking to establish his reign here and score a 5th straight win, building on not only the win over Colomban but also a decision win in 2018 against Tonghui Li. He is regarded, at the moment, as one of the key figures in Korean boxing and a successful defense will likely see him become one of the big faces in the countries long awaited boxing revival.
As for Watanabe the bout comes on the back of a draw against Nobuyuki Shindo, and marks a clear intention from Watanabe who seems to have vacated the Japanese "interim" Light Middleweight title. He is coming into this bout looking to become a 2-weight OPBF champion, having won the belt at Welterweight, and clearly wants to try and make a name for himself with a second OPBF title, rather than waiting for another shot at the domestic regular belt.
We're expecting a lot more information on this show in the coming days, though this is a genuine exciting main event, and should be a great fight for fans able to get to Seoul for the contest.
At the Korakuen Hall today fans were given a less than memorable show overall in the final Dangan show of 2018. Despite the card failing to deliver overall there will be very complaints about the excellent main event, which saw Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] and Akinori Watanabe (37-7-1, 31) [渡部あきのり] fight to unify the Japanese regular and interim titles at 154lbs. It was a bout that promised a lot, and in many ways it actually over-delivered.
The styles of the two men are total opposites. Shindo is an outside fighter, a very tall and rangy Light Middleweight who looks to use his jab and keep fights at range. Watanabe on the other hand is an aggressive fighter. On paper the styles may not always gel well, but today they did in a bout that swung back and forth and saw both men take serious damage.
Watanabe looked to make an impression early, taking the fight to Shindo, who responded by boxing and moving, stopping Watanabe from having too much success. In fact for the most part Watanabe's best moments came in the clinch, when Shindo was stood still and unable to avoid his clubbing shots. Shindo on the other hand found real success with his steady jab and his huge, booming left hands on to the head of Watanabe.
The style of Shindo really had massive success in round 5, when he continually landed huge lefts on Watanabe, who's face was reddening and swelling. Whilst Watanabe was wearing the scars of battle he was also looking tired, and like an old man in there. It was getting tough for him, and the score-cards, which were announced after round 5, didn't help him with all 3 judges having Shindo up.
Knowing he was behind Watanabe picked up the pace in round 6 and managed to drag Shindo into his fight in round 7, a round that had an amazing back and forth sequence that saw both men eating bombs. It was the highlight of the show and one of the highlights of Japanese boxing this year. It was clear that Shindo knew it wasn't a good idea to stand and trade, but wanted to prove he could do it.
Shindo began to look tired as Watanabe began to have his second win, and round 8 Watanabe had a big round, making Shindo really back off and move more than he had. The same exhaustion from Shindo showed in round 9, as the swelling on Watanabe's face got significantly worse, leaving his right eye a bloody, swollen mess. Shindo was clearly tired, but showed his grit in continuing to fire off left hands, and again held his feet when he needed to.
With Watanabe essentially fighting with 1 eye going into the final round there was a chance the referee would stop the bout. That however seemed to be something Watanabe wasn't even considering as he looked to grab victory from the bout. He put the pressure on again and again had to deal with Watanabe's shots coming his way, shots that he could hardly see due to the swelling and blood around his eye. It was a round that seemed to be a Watanabe round, but it seemed like he was really battling to try and get a decision he didn't seem to feel he had done enough for.
Going to the score-cards it was clear this was going to be close, and that was shown with the scorecards that read 96-94, to Shindo, 96-95 to Watanabe and 95-95 leading to a split decision draw.
To our understanding this results leaves the title split, and the JBC will have a decision to make in the new year. They may order a rematch or allow one of these two to defend the title in the Champion Carnival, against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信], with the winner to face the fighter who missed out on that bout.
Given the state of Watanabe's face it seems likely he'll be out of the ring for some time, whilst Shindo will have felt the damage of this bout, but showed little of it on his face and will likely be fine to go again by the time of the Champion Carnival.
Tomorrow at the Korakuen Hall fight fans will be able to see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] and Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) [渡部あきのり] fight to unify the Japanese regular and interim titles at 154lbs.
The bout, which will be shown life in Boxingraise, has been priced up by betting website STS for gamblers in Poland.
The heavy handed Watanabe is the favourite, priced at 1.57 to win, the same as 57/100 for our English readers or -175.4 for our American ones.
Shindo, who enters the bout as the regular champion, is the under-dog at 2.10, the same as 11/10 or +110. Despite being the under-dog he is the younger man and the naturally bigger man.
Related - Shindo and Watanabe battle to unify Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow on Boxingraise we'll see Japanese "regular" Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] and Japanese "interim" Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) [渡部あきのり] face off to become the undisputed Japanese champion at 154lbs.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made weight for the contest, coming in on the 154lb limit for the bout.
Shindo won the title back in May, when he took a narrow decision over Ryosuke Maruki, but suffered a hand injury in that win that prevented him from returning to the ring for a while. As a result Watanabe faced Maruki for the interim title, and Watanabe stopped Maruki inside a round to claim the belt, taking us to this fight tomorrow.
Interesting the winner of this bout will already know that their next bout will take place during the 2019 Champion Carnival, when they will be defending the undisputed Japanese crown against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] who became the mandatory challenger when he stopped Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] earlier this year.
Related - Shindo and Watanabe battle to unify Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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