Tomorrow fight fans in Hong Kong will get an intriguing match up between Japan's Yuki Strong Kobayashi (10-6, 5) [ストロング小林佑樹], a former OPBF title challenger, and Filipino puncher Rey Megrino (23-20-4, 20). On paper the bout might not look anything special by Megrino has one of the sports most misleading records and will be looking to prove that tomorrow.
The Japanese fighter hit scales today at 122lbs, bang on the agreed limit for the fight. Although he made weight he certainly didn't look like a fully fledged Super Bantamweight, in fact he looked like a small Bantamweight fighting at Super Bantamweight. Despite the looks he has fought much of his career at the weight and certainly wasn't forced into a weight class he was unfamiliar with.
Megrino came in slightly lighter, at 121lbs. Although coming in lighter this is far from Megrino's lightest, having come in at 125lbs for his last bout. he has however been a man who has grown into the weight, having fought as low as 105lbs. Although unknown among casual boxing fans Megrino holds notable wins against the likes of Ratanapol Sor Vorapin and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and is one of the heaviest fighters in the lower weights, carrying his power from Flyweight to Bantamweight with no real issue.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Saturday was a busy day for fight fans in Hong Kong, who not only got a thriller featuring local star star Rex Tso but several other fights of note.
One of those bouts saw big punching Filipino Jay Solmiano (19-3-1, 15) scoring a blow out win against Thailand's Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (17-2, 13), who lasted just 138 seconds. For Solmiano the win was a great win that saw him notch a second win for the year, and score arguably his biggest win to date. The win has seen the Filipino bounce back well after a 2014 loss to Keita Obara in an OPBF title fight. Sadly for the Thai this is a second straight stoppage loss following a slightly quicker loss in July to Azizbek Abdugofurov.
Another notable bout saw Rey Megrino (23-20-4, 20) continued his late career surge as he scored a 5th round KO win against Indonesian veteran Jason Butar Butar (21-19-1, 14). The Filipino was once 15-20-3 (13) but has gone 8-0-1 (7) in recent years and is a real dangerman at 115lbs and 118lbs, where his power and physical strength is a nightmare, making him one of the sports most avoided fighters. Sadly this isn't one of the better results from that run of the Filipino, who has beaten Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Kenji Kiubo and Ernesto Saulong in recent bouts. Instead Butar Butar has been struggling a lot himself with 6 losses in his previous 10 bouts.
The show wasn't perfect for Filipino's , that's because veteran Jerope Mercado (27-9-3, 9) was stopped in 2 rounds by unbeaten Australian prospect Paul Fleming (23-0, 15)
On Friday Filipino fans in Bacolod City had the chance to watch a trio of OPBF "interim" title fights, two of which resulted in new champions.
One of those new champions is Rene Dacquel (17-6-1, 6), who scored a sensational knockout against the previously unbeaten Lucky Tor Buamas (7-1, 7) to claim the OPBF "interim" Super Flyweight title. The Filipino, who came up short against Takuma Inoue last year for the full OPBF title, iced Lucky with a single right hand and left him flat on his back in what was a KO of the Year contender. Sadly for Lucky, or should that be "Unlucky", it seems the step up in class was far too much and in his previous 7 bouts he had done nothing to prepare for a fighter like Dacquel.
Another new champion was Carlo Magali (20-7-3, 10) who over-came Mark Gil Melligen (21-7-1, 12) to claim the OPBF "interim" Super Featherweight title. This win sees Magali extend an unbeaten run, which now sites at 5 fights, and sees him claiming back-to-back title wins, adding the OPBF interim title to his IBF Pan Pacific title. Sadly however it's hard to see where Melligen goes now, following a third successive loss.
Their was one title bout that resulted in no new champion being crowned. That bout saw Rey Megrino (22-20-4, 19) and Jonathan Baat (30-7-5, 14) fight to a thrilling 12 round draw for the OPBF "interim" Bantamweight title. It was this bout, more than the other two, that intrigued us in regards to the show and our assumption of it being well matched proved to be right. Megrino, who has one of the sports most misleading records, may not have managed to advance his career with a newly won title but he has extended his current unbeaten streak to 9 bouts, whilst Baat bounced back from a loss to Liborio Solis with the draw.
Also on this card was well travelled Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (4-0, 2), who blew away Filipino Gerry Patenio (4-11-2, 2) inside a round. The Venezuelan is now expected to return to the ring later this month, in China as he continues a peculiar Asian tour.
The OPBF title has been the stepping stone between fighters at continental level and world level. They have long been titles that fighters have won on their way to the top and as chance for fighters to prove themselves as being beyond domestic level, and on their way to becoming world class. Modern day fighters like Manny Pacquiao (Flyweight), Takashi Uchiyama's (Super Featherweight) [内山 高志] and Naoya Inoue (Light Flyweight) [井上 尚弥] have all claimed the OPBF title before going on to win world titles.
It's with that in mind that we're rather disappointed to learn that the OPBF will be have a growth in "interim" title fights, devaluing one of the best stepping stone titles in the sport of boxing. That growth seems to have really blown up recently with Naris Highland announcing an OPBF interim title triple header, set for April 1st.
The highest weight being covered by the triple header is Super Featherweight where Carlo Magali (19-7-3, 10) faces Mark Gil Melligen (21-6-1, 12). The issues with this fight are numerous. Firstly the champion will actually be defending the "regular" title later in April, so he need for an interim is questionable, secondly Melligen was beaten in his last 2 fights, so he's hardly a worth contender for an OPBF belt as it is. Magali is a legitimate contender at this level, though it's disappointing that he has been inactive in recent years. It's also worth noting that this will be Magali's first bout since his tragic contest with David Browne Jr.
At Bantamweight we suspect we suspect we're in for a treat as the heavy handed Rey Megrino (22-20-3, 19), who has recently been training with Rex Tso, battles Jonathan Baat (30-7-4, 14). Whilst neither of these two have the greatest of records both are proven fighters with an upsetters mentality. Megrino's record suggests that he's far from special but the 29 year old is on a 7 fight winning streak over the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Myung Ho Lee and Ernesto Saulong, and has done well to turn his career around after being 15-19-3 around 4 years ago. On the other hand Baat holds a couple of wins over Qiu Xiao Jun, a big upset over Kenta Onjo and held Hikaru Marugame to a draw late last year.
Megrino Vs Baat is a genuinely fantastic match up, but the need for an interim title to be attached to the bout is ridiculous given that the "regular" champion will, again, be defending his title in April.
The third of the bouts is, sadly, the most questionable as Rene Dacquel (16-6-1, 5) faces unbeaten Thai Lucky Tor Buamas (7-0, 7) for the "interim" OPBF Super Flyweight title. On paper this one looks fine but Dacquel has lost 2 recent bouts, including an OPBF title bout to Takuma Inoue. Although Dacquel is a capable fighter there is little need for him to be fighting in an OPBF title fight given that he was widely beaten by Inoue in December. On the other hand the unbeaten Lucky has beaten no one of note, and by that we really mean, no one of any note. It's also worth noting that Inoue is expected to defend the title in April or May anyway.
Whilst we would have loved to have gotten behind the announcement in regards to the title triple header the reality is the announcement devalues the OPBF title and follows in the footsteps of the WBA "world" titles, where the "Super", "Regular" and "interim" titles all made a mockery of things.
It should be noted that we have no issue with interim titles in principle. If a fighter is injured then the "interim" title is fair enough, but this announcement comes whilst the real champions have bouts lined up, and follows the the recent created situation at Welterweight, where Suyon Takayama [高山 樹延] claimed the interim title just weeks before Jack Brubaker defended the "regular" title. If the OPBF continue down this slope it's a slippery one that could lead to them quickly losing their significance as a genuine stepping stone title.
Hong Kong boxing star Rex Tso (17-0, 10) may have only been in action this past weekend but his next bout is already set with the 28 year old "Wonder Kid" now looking forward to returning home and facing Australian Brad Hore (5-1) in the main event of "Night of Champions 2", in Hong Kong.
The card, put on Tso's Asian based promoter "Hong Kong DEF Promotions", is set to feature a really interesting array of fighters including Filipino fighters Rey Megrino (21-20-3, 18), and Randy Megrino (15-18-3, 8) as well as Thailand's Petchsuriya Singwancha (14-10, 8).
Ahead of the show DEF have released a hype video which can be seen below.
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