A week ago we reported that Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18) [小原 佳太] had been added to the June 13th card at the Korakuen Hall, as part of a Diamond Glove card. At the time we were unsure on his opponent though we've now seen the other man in the ring being named.
Sadly the opponent is worse than we would have expected for the 32 year old Obara, who will be in the ring with Indonesian visitor Yosmar Kefi (9-10, 8), who has been stopped in his past 4 visits to Japan including a loss earlier this year to Koki Koshikawa.
Although Obara is best known for coming up short in his biggest bouts to date, including a loss in March to Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 6) [Қудратилло Абдуқаҳҳоровдан], he is a good fighter and we suspect a bout against Kefi will do little to push him in the right direction.
Thankfully the card is far from a bout and will also feature Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] making his first defense of the Japanese Minimumweight title, as he takes on Naoya Haruguchi (15-10, 6) [春口直也]. This doesn't look awesome on paper but it is a bout which will see Tanaka looking to avenge a 2017 loss and secure his first defense following a big January win over Shin Ono.
Back in March Uzbek Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 6) [Қудратилло Абдуқаҳҳоровдан] beat Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18) [小原 佳太] to book himself an IBF world title fight. Despite the win for the Uzbek it now seems like Obara will actually be back in the ring before Abdukakhorov.
Earlier today Obara revealed that he would be returning to the ring on June 13th at the Korakuen Hall, as part of a Diamond Glove card, which will also feature his Misako stable mate Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] defending the Japanese Minimumweight title against Naoya Haruguchi (15-10, 6) [春口直也].
At the moment Obara's opponent hasn't been announced, though the Obara bout is expected to be the show's main event. Strangely it has been stated that Obara's bout will headline above the Japanese title bout, despite their being no title on the line in his contest.
At the age of 32 Obara cannot afford nay more setbacks if he's to earn himself one more notable bout. The loss to Abdukakhorov was a big one, but he does still have a fan friendly style and can make for fun fights, potentially getting one final shot at the big time if he can run off a few wins. This bout in June is expected to be an easy one, though he can't have many easy ones if he's to try and charge back up the rankings for another world title eliminator.
At the moment there's not been much else announced about the card, though we are expecting at least 1 other notable name to be featured on the show as Misako look to build on a pretty good start to 2019.
Yesterday evening in the US fight fans had the chance to see an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator, between unbeaten Uzbek Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 6) [Қудратилло Абдуқаҳҳоровдан] and Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18) [小原 佳太].
The bout was relatively competitive, at times, but there was no doubting the winner with the Uzbek racking up the early rounds, to cruise in the final stages.
For the most part Abdukakhorov just did that bit more, was the bit smoother, sharper and smarter. He was caught by some solid counters, but Obara struggled to follow up his success as the Uzbek got out of range and reset.
After 12 rounds the judges all favoured the unbeaten Uzbek, who took the decision with scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 115-113. The 118-110 card seemed a rather harsh score but the other two were pretty spot on.
For "The Punisher" this win moves him towards a bout with IBF world champion Errol Spence, though on this showing he would be given no real chance against the American champion. For Obara the loss leaves his career hanging by a thread.
Later today Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) [Қудратилло Абдуқаҳҳоровдан] and Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) [小原 佳太] will face off in an IBF Welterweight title eliminator. Yesterday the two men took part in their weigh in, and both fighters made weight.
On the scales the unbeaten Uzbek was 145.8lbs, well under the 147lb limit, whilst the hard hitting Japanese fighter was 146.2lbs.
At the weigh in the Uzbek looked a tad fleshy, but confident and calm. Obara on the other hand looked better physically, but also seemed more tense, likely knowing it's now or never for his career.
Related- Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
(Photo by Mikey Williams)
Later this week we'll see Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) [Қудратилло Абдуқаҳҳоровдан] battle against Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) [小原 佳太] in an IBF Welterweight title eliminator.
Yesterday, Obara left Japan for the US and for the fight.
Prior to leaving he revealed that he had never seen Rocky prior to the announcement of his bout in Philadelphia, though has since watched the entire series.
Sadly preparation for Obara hasn't been idea. About a week ago he developed cold sores and stopped his training for a few days, and the plane to Detroit was delayed by a couple of hours. Despite those setbacks he did seem confident and took things in his stride.
Related - Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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