Later today fight fans will be able to turn their attention to Russia to watch a really intriguing match up between once touted Russian Aik Shakhnazaryan (19-2, 10) and big punching Filipino Al Rivera (17-2, 15). The bout isn't going to grab major international attention, especially not this weekend with all the other boxing taking place, but it does have the potential to be one of the hidden boxing gems of the week with both men having confidence in their power and belief that they will be the better fighter, and that they have the ability to put themselves on to the fringes of the world rankings.
Although the bout is a really interesting bout the odds suggest that the contest will be a mismatch, with Shakhnazaryan priced at 1/14 with one major betting outlet, whilst another has him priced at a tastier looking 2/11. Those sorts of odds make it seem like the Russian is strongly favoured and in almost a foregone conclusion.
Rivera on the other hand is the major under-dog, priced at 7/1 with one of the betting companies, and 24/5 with the other. That sort of feels like a tasty option given that Rivera is the OPBF champion at 140lbs and a major puncher riding a career best run of wins, including two over Adones Cabalquinto and his destruction of Shinya Iwabuchi, which took place in Japan. Whilst we under-stand Rivera being the under-dog he is certainly a live one in a bout that could end up being little more than a shoot out.
For those interested the odds on the draw are, at best, 25/1.
In 2015 Filipino slugger Al Rivera (17-2, 15) scored his first notable win, stopping Adones Cabalquinto (23-3, 15) in 2 rounds to put himself on the boxing map. Since then his career has gone from strength to strength and today he recorded his second win over Cabalquinto as he also scored his first defense of the OPBF 140lb title.
Whilst Rivera's first win over Cabalquinto last year put him on the proverbial boxing map it was a win this year over Shinya Iwabuchi that saw him claim the OPBF title, and really do so in an impressive fashion as he beat up Iwabuchi eventually stopping the Japanese warrior in the 7th round for the then vacant title. It was however a test of Rivera's championship credentials today as he took on a man who was looking for revenge and looking to claim the Oriental title, after having missed out on a fight for the belt last year.
To begin with it was Cabalquinto's desire for revenge that seemed to be the key as he dropped Rivera, knocking down the champion in the opening round. Sadly however Rivera would regain his feet and as the fight continued his power was the key as he dropped Cabalquinto in round 2 and that was all she wrote, with the more experienced man suffering his second stoppage loss to hands of Rivera.
Although flawed Rivera's power is a handful and it would be no surrpise to see him either extend his KO run going forward or be stopped looking for a finish. For Cabalquinto however this is a third loss in 5 bouts and could well see the 28 year old potentially thrown on the scrap heap.
Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see an OPBF Light Welterweight bout between local favourite Shinya Iwabuchi (26-6, 22) [岩渕 真也] and Filipino visitor Al Rivera (15-2, 13).
On paper the bout looked like an explosive, exciting and competitive bout, in the ring however the bout was the total opposite and ended up looking like a total mismatch.
Rivera looked strong, determined and aggressive from the off, taking the fight to Iwabuchi, who was made to look small by comparison. The Japanese fighter tried to fight back and kept himself alive in the opening couple of rounds but seemed like he's need to change tactic if he was to over-come the Filipino, and claim an OPBF title on the third time of asking.
Things went from bad to worse for Iwabuchi who was dropped twice in round 4 as Rivera looked for the early finish. To his credit Iwabuchi hung in tough, but looked like a man who was going to need to do something very special to do more than just survive.
After 4 rounds the cards were all in favour of Rivera, with scores of 40-34, twice, and 39-35, with one judge some how finding a round to give to Iwabuchi.
Iwabuchi did manage to have some success in the rounds that followed as the Filipino slowed down slightly, but that success was very limited and in round 7 the gutsy Iwabuchi was finally stopped.
Sadly for Iwabuchi this is the third time he has come up short in an OPBF title bout, having previously lost to Min Wook Kim, back in 2013, and to Keita Obara in 2014. This however was the most humiliating of those loses as Rivera simply battered him. It seems that whilst Rivera was excellent Iwabuchi's hard career of wars has caught up to him and the 30 year old should perhaps consider retirement. For Rivera however this win was a second successive upset, following a win late last year over a then unbeaten Adones Cabalquinto, and really helps put him on the map in many ways.
With the win Rivera does become a target for fighters like Chalermpol Sinwancha [เฉลิมพล สิงห์วังชา] and Hiroki Okada [岡田 博喜] though given this performance he woild likely fancy his chances against either man.
For those interested in watching this, it will be aired on tape delay this coming Saturday.
Tomorrow fight fans in Tokyo get a treat as Shinya Iwabuchi (26-5, 22) [岩渕 真也] faces off against Filipino banger Al Rivera (14-2, 12) in an OPBF Light Welterweight title bout.
Today the two men weighed in for the bout and both made weight for the contest whilst looking in tremendous shape. Notably Rivera was the taller man at the weigh in, though he is a man who grew into the weight and has fought in a much lower division, whilst Iwabuchi is a career 140lber.
Iwabuchi has told the media that he suspect this will be his last chance to claim an OPBF title, having come up on two other occasions, however for Rivera this is unlikely to be a one off given that he's a very young fighter and will be able to come against.
The contest, which headlines at the Korakuen Hall tomorrow afternoon, looks likely to be an all action contest with both men having real power and aggressive styles. For those unable to be at the "Hall" tomorrow it will be televised on Fuji TV over the weekend.
Iwabuchi and Rivera meet for OPBF gold!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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