Earlier today fight fans were able to see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (20-2, 7) [内藤 律樹] make his first defense of the Oriental title as he over-came tough Filipino challenger Jheritz Chavez (8-3-2, 6) in a bout that turned into a real scare.
The first round was pretty clearly a Naito round before Chavez came back into the fight, helped by a cut suffered by Naito from an accidental headclash. Despite the cut Naito began to take control and seemed to sweep rounds 3 to 7 with his busy jab and constant movement. Chavez, a patient stalker, seemed to be happy in pressuring without too much of a pay off in the earlier stages. Although it appeared a bit like Chavez was giving away rounds, and was too slow for Naito, his game plan certainly looked like he was wanting to take Naito in to deep waters later on.
After 4 rounds Naito was leading 39-37, on two cards, and was 38-38 on the other when the scores were announced to the public. That lead was increased in the middle rounds, and by round 8, when the scores were announced for a second time, Naito was up 78-74 on all 3 cards.
With a 4 point leading entering the final 4 rounds all Naito had to do was stay up right to retian his title. That however turned out to be much, much harder than expected and Naito really would have wished the bout would have been a 10 rounder.
What made things tough in the later stages was that Naito's concentration was going, his legs were slowing and his reactions weren't what they had been earlier in the fight. Chavez on the other hand looked as solid as he had been earlier in the bout, and was making the most of Naiti's slowing feet, landing heavy body shots and managign to get a tiring Naito with more success than he had earlier in the bout. A tired looking Naito was pinned into the corner, forced to hold and put on the back foot more and more, rather than being able to use his movement aggressively it was becoming more and more defensive. In round 11 a big right hand, bang on the chin, from Chavez dropped Naito hard. The Japanese fighter looked hurt when he got to his feet and was lucky the bell came as Chavez began to pound on him just a few seconds later.
Knowing he had the power to hurt Naito we saw a more intense looking Chavez come out for round 12, and he would drop Naito early in the round before piling on the pressure and lookign for the finish. Naito went into survival mode from then on to the final bell with Chavez throwing everything he had at the champion. A lesser referee would have stopped the bout, but Naito did just enough to stop any intervention from the third man in the ring as he managed to survive ti the final bell, wobblign around the ring for much of the last round.
Despite having lead by 4 points after 8 rounds the knockdowns had made things incredibly interesting, and saw Naito narrowly retain his title with a majority decision, 114-112, tiwce, and 113-113.
Despite the loss Chavez will be welcomed back into Japan after this performance whilst Naito will certainly have to think about his future and about making changes to the way he fights. Chavez also needs to develop his style, having been far too patient at times, but he showed that he has the ability to claim a big win at this level, and really did come very close to scoring the upset win in the final round.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (19-2, 7) [内藤 律樹] defending the title against Filipino challenger Jheritz Chavez (8-2-2, 6). Today those two men took part in their weigh in for the contest and both fighters made weight.
On the scales the champion was 139.75lbs and looked in amazing shape. The former Japanese Super Featherweight champion looked like he had filled into the 140lb weight class really well and he looked the bigger man at the weigh in, despite having fought at 130lbs just 18 months ago. Although he looked like he lacked physical strength and power at 130lbs his development into a Light Welterweight appear to have given him a more physical style and he does look like a better fighter with the additional weight
The challenger was bang on the limit and, despite looking the smaller man, is regarded as the more natural 140lb fighter having fought at the weight on and off through his career. He seemed confident of picking up the win and said that he would be aggressive when he gets in the ring with Naito, and it's clear that he will be there to try and stop the champion, and claim a career best win. Notably this will be his second bout in Japan, and comes about 11 months after his loss to Hiroki Okada last summer.
Naito takes on Chavez in OPBF title defense!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
We've known for a while that Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] would be battling against Ryosuke Maruki (15-4-1, 10) [丸木 凌介] for the vacant Japanese Light Middleweight title on May 15th, at Dangan 212. It's now been announced that that bout won't be the only title bout on the show, as OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (19-2, 7) [内藤 律樹] will also be on the show, defending his title for the first time.
Naito, who won the belt this past January when he stopped Jeffrey Arienza, will be up against tough Filipino challenger Jheritz Chavez (8-2-2, 6) in what looks likely to be a very tough bout for the champion.
Naito originally made his name at Super Featherweight, where he claimed the Japanese title way back in in 2014. He went on to make 3 defenses of the title before losing it, in a technical decision, against Kenichi Ogawa. A rematch with Ogawa saw Naito fail to reclaim the belt before he decided to move up in weight and he has began to make his mark at 140lbs, where he is now 3-0 (2) and looks like a solid fighter at the new weight.
As for Chavez he is very much an under-the-radar fighter who has fought much of his career at Lightweight but is a live throeat at this level. He drew 2 of his first 4 bouts before losing in Russia to the promising Vage Sarukhanyan. He bounced back from that loss with two domestic wins, including one over Al Sabaupan, before losing last year to Hiroki Okada, in his only previous bout in Japan.
The Naito Vs Chavez bout will headline the card with the Shindo Vs Maruki bout acting as the chief support bout and the full card is expected to be made available on Boxingraise for subscribers of that service.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hlal saw former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (16-0, 11) [岡田 博喜] extend his unbeaten record, as he put on an excellent performance against dangerous Filipino Jheritz Chavez (7-2-2, 5) en route to taking a wide decision.
The talented Okada has been less than impressive in recent bouts but looked in control throughout this bout, using his skills to rack up the points against a strong and awkward Okada.
Okada's skills were the key, but he was kept on his toys and everytime he made a mistake Chavez managed to land telling hooks, with both hands. Those shots left Okada's face looking swollen and cut after the 10 round contest, but the damage never looked like stopping the local favourite, with Okada taking the decision with scores of 100-90, 100-91 and 99-93.
Despite the win Okada will have to take some notable time out of the ring whilst a nasty cut on his right eye heals. That's likely to slow his move to Oriental, WBO Asia Pacific and potentially world title fights, but today's contest was certainly a better showing than his other recent ones, and it looks like he needs a test before he fights to the best of his ability.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (15-0, 11) [岡田 博喜] face off with dangerous Filipino Jheritz Chavez (7-1-2, 5), in what looks like a decent for the unbeaten Okada.
Today the two men weighed in for their bout and both looked in good shape for the contest, which is being fought just above the 140lb Light Welterweight limit.
On the scales Okada was dead on the contracted limit of 64KG's, or 141lbs, and looked confident and relaxed whilst admitting he wanted to move towards bigger and better fights, and it seems he is intent of maintaining his world rankings with the WBO and IBF.
Chavez wa also 141lbs but looked a much smaller fighter than Okada, who clearly had several inches of natual height on the Filipino. Despite being the smaller man the visitor looked happy, relaxed and confident, knowing that a win here could, potentially, move him into the world rankings.
For fans not able to make their way to Tokyo for the bout it will be featured on boxingraise, meaning subscribers to Dangan's service can watch the bout on delay.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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