One of those title bouts was a bout for the Japanese Light Welterweight Youth title, and saw the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (11-0, 8) [平岡アンディ] take on big punching foe Takahiko Kobayashi (7-3, 5) [小林孝彦], in what was a good match up on paper.
Sadly the fight failed to be as exciting as it looked going in, but it was always a compelling fight, that saw both men asking the other questions.
To begin with the two fighters tried to figure each other out with the jab. This seemed to suit Kobayashi better, and in rounds 2 and 3 he couldn't miss with the straight right hand, which had Hiraoka in all sorts of trouble. The consistency of Kobayashi's shots was a serious worry for Hiraoka, who to have no answer, and was shaken at lest once.
In round 4 Hiraoka finally managed to change the tempo of the fight, and it was clear that Kobayashi was beginning to feel the pace. Kobayashi hadn't thrown a lot in the earlier rounds, but when he threw he really put everything into them. With the pace changing Hiraoka managed to come into the bout more, and in round 5 he had a needed break through, seriously shaking Kobayashi. A follow up forced the referee to step in and give Hiraoka the stoppage win, and the new title.
During the fight stablemate Naoya Inoue gave Hiraoka advice, which the youngster said helped change the bout. The reality though is that the touted Hiraoka had a number of flaws shown up here, that he will need to work on back at the Ohashi gym.
For Kobayashi the performance was a solid one, until round 4, and it showed that at his level he can be a nightmare, and maybe he'll be best off moving up to Welterweight, which should help with his stamina in the future.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)