Japanese based American fighter Charlie Ota (25-3-1, 17) may have had a 2014 to forget but today he returned to the ring with a win as he stopped the previously unbeaten Stephen Gelawa (6-1-1, 4), of the Philippines.
Last year Ota lost twice, suffering a defeat in Canada to the touted Jermell Charlo and a loss in a Japanese title fight to Yuki Nonaka. The loss to Nonaka, in December, was a close one but one that seemed to put a temporary halt on Ota's career with the fighter himself taking almost 11 months out of the ring.
Despite the long break Ota looked solid and sharp.
To begin the fight the early moments were highlighted by the early pressure of Gelawa, though he was turned early on with Ota getting a chance to unload some heavy leather. Despite the shots landed by Ota early on it wasn't until round 3 that he really damaged Gelawa who looked like he was going to be on the receiving end of a very painful night. Notably though Gelawa then showed his toughness and managed to give Ota quite a tough tough before being stopped in round 6 by an Ota flurry.
For Ota this was a confidence building win though suspect that he will now be looking at title fights, possibly a bout Japanese Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka or a 4th bout with the newly crowned OPBF champion Takayuki Hosokawa, who Ota actually faced on debut back in 2006.
Last year we saw the exciting Japanese based American Charlie Ota (24-3-1, 16) suffer the worst year od his professional career, as he lost both of his bouts. The second of those bouts came in December last year when he was beaten, via split decision, by Yuki Nonaka. Since the loss to Nonaka Ota has been inactive though that changes tomorrow when he returns against unbeaten Filipino Stephen Gelawa (6-0-1, 4).
Today saw the weigh in for that bout, and at the weigh in Ota looked in tremendous shape whilst coming in at 151.5lbs, well under the 154lb limit though a weight very similar to what he was for the Nonaka bout, The weigh will likely have been based around what Ota feels comfortable fighting at and allows him to keep a little bit extra explosiveness and speed.
Gelawa on the other hand was 152lbs for the bout, again well under the limit though one of the highest of his career and is in fact 5lbs heavier than he was last time out, when he scored a 4th round TKO loss against Dennis Padua.
(Image courtesy of @CharlieOhta)
Sources have informed us that Japanese based American fighter Charles Bellamy (24-3-1, 16), AKA Charlie Ota, will be making his ring return on November 24th as he fights for the first time since suffering a very close loss to Yuki Nonaka last December, in a Japanese Light Middleweight title fight.
The popular "Charlie" is set to fight on the card which will also feature Toshiyuki Igarashi and Ryosuke Iwasa and like those two men he will be facing a Filipino fighter.
In Ota's case the Filipino foe will be the unbeaten Stephen Gelawa (6-0-1, 4), a puncher from Baguio City who has stopped his last 4 foes, whilst fighting as high as Middleweight.
Although Gelawa is on a 4 fight stoppage run his competition has been poor and it's fair to describe this as a meteoric step up in class for the soon to be 24 year old. He'll be fighting in just his second 8 round bout and will be facing a man who is a former OPBF and Japanese champion at Light Middleweight. It is fair to say that Ota has lost his last 2 bouts but they have come at a much higher level than Gelawa has ever competed at and it seems likely that that losing run will come to an end here.
The final Japanese card before the end of year blow outs came earlier today in Osaka and saw two major bouts of note.
The first of those bouts was a non-title affair between the heavy handed "KO King" Masao Nakamura (18-3, 18) and tough Filipino Rey Labao (27-6, 17). Nakamura, a former OPBF Super Featherweight champion, came into this bout following a decision loss to Masayuki Ito and it seemed that that loss played on his mind slightly before he was dropped hard by Labao in the opening round. The Japanese fighter showed his heart by getting up but also showed his immaturity as a fighter as he tried to fight back despite being hurt. This resulted in a second knockdown and the only thing that stopped him from suffering an opening stoppage was the bell which came at just the right time. Sadly for Nakamura however it was little more than a temporary respite and Labao needed just 78 seconds of round 2 to finish off the Japanese fighter.
Following the win for Labao fans then got the main event of the evening, a Japanese Light Middleweight title fight between defending champion, and local hero, Yuki Nonaka (27-8-2, 9) and former Light Middleweight unified champion Charlie Ota (24-3-1, 16). The bout was, on paper, a really interesting one though one that we suspect Ota would win based on his aggressive style and his ability to rush fighters, something we thought would work against the smooth boxing of Nonaka. In the ring it proved to be just as interesting.
After 5 rounds there was little to separate the men who had traded shots in a compelling start to the fight. The competitiveness had seen the judges unable to really split the men with the open scoring reading 49-46 to Nonaka, 48-47 to Ota and 48-48, a draw. Had the bout ended there it would have been a split decision draw and few would have complained.
Going into second half of the fight both men knew all was to play for and it showed as the continued to trade shots in short exchanges and battle for ring position with Ota continually trying to cut the distance whilst Nonaka tried to make the most of his notable height and reach advantages. Unfortunately for the challenger weren't as impressed by his offensive charge as they were by Nonaka's accurate shots which essentially won him the bout with scores of 97-93 and 96-95, whilst the third judge had it to Ota by a score of 96-95.
After the bout Nonaka said he would like to move towards a world title bout in 2015 and seemed to indicate that he wanted to fight former national champion Takayuki Hosokawa (26-10-3, 9), who recently won the IBF Asia Light Middleweight title. At the moment Hosokawa is ranked in the top 10 by the IBF and it's clear that Nonaka views that as his best chance of being moved towards a world title fight. For Ota this is a second successive setback though the performance was a solid one and he can take a lot of heart from the bout, despite losing what was a razor thin decision to a very talented opponent.
(Image, of Nonaka celebrating his win, courtesy of the blog of Takashi Edagawa)
Earlier today saw the weigh in's for tomorrow's Japanese show at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka. The card, whilst not a high profile one, does feature two very interesting bouts which both have the potential to be fantastic in the ring.
The headline bout is a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout that will see current champion Yuki Nonaka (28-6-2, 9) attempt to defend his belt against former champion Charlie Ota (24-2-1, 16). At the weigh in Nonaka was the significantly taller man and also the heavier man with his being recorded as 69.8Kg's, or 153.8lbs. As for Ota he was 68.6KG, or just over 151.2lbs, well inside the divisional limit.
The other interesting bout is a Lightweight clash between Japanese "KO King" Masao Nakamura (18-2, 18) and Filipino visitor Rey Labao (26-6, 17). For this bout both men were recorded with the same weight, 61.1KG's, or 134.7lbs. On paper this is the more "exciting" bout and is likely to be a full on war until one man, or the other, is stopped however it is a bout that perhaps lacks the prestige of the title bout. Incidentally we suspect the winner here will be moved towards a title bout next year.
(Image courtesy of Charlie Ota who we want to thank immensely for these details and the image).
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