The man coming out on top was the more experienced Ono who showed his experience through out the fight to finally claim a Japanese title, in what was his 4th shout at the title.
The Watanabe gym fighter controlled the bout for the most part by using his technical skills, boxing well behind his southopaw straight and his body shots and moving smartly. Hiraim the younger man, was looking to box his way in behind his jab, but struggled to ever control the distance. Hirai had moments in those early stages, enough to arguably be even, but looked like he was working much harder for less success than Ono.
After 5 rounds one judge had managed to have Hirai in the lead whilst the other two had Ono in the lead as the scores were made public. That was as close as it ever really got for the local fighter, with Ono essentially controlling the second half as he stepped uo the pace and swept all the rounds on 2 of the judges score cards, losing just a single round on the other card. The only thing that didn't go for Ono was a point deduction in round 8 for headclashes.
At the end of the bout there was no doubting the winner, with Ono getting the decision thanks to scores of 97-94, 97-92 and an awfully close 96-95. The win sees him winning a Japanese title 5 years after he won the OPBF Light Flyweight title and it's clear that he was a man who knew this would be his last chance. He pulled out one of the best performances of his career and at 35 years old will maybe have 1 more shot at a world title. For Hirai the loss will be a hard pill to take. He was very complimentary of Ono, admitting that Ono was better in every area, but the loss does end his 5 fight winning streak, and will be a major set back for the man from Hyogo.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)