Earlier today at the Aioi Hall in Kariya fight fans had the chance to see a WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title bout, as defending champion Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6) took on unbeaten Japanese challenger Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) [森 武蔵].
On paper this looked like a really interesting match up. The experienced champion had had a reputation as being a nightmare for Japanese fighters, holding Yohei Tobe to a draw, running Ryosuke Iwasa close in an OPBF title fight and scoring notable wins over Hisashi Amagasa and Yoshimitsu Kimura. Mori on the other hand was seen as one of the most promising Japanese teenagers, who had won the 2017 Super Featherweight All Japan Rookie of the Year.
Sadly though the bout failed to live up to the hopes we had all had. That's not to say it was bad, just ended in an inconclusive fashion.
Mori started really well, using his speed and aggression to keep Pumicpic from settling early. Pumicpic did try to attack behind his right hook when pressing forward, but he struggled to have major success early on due to the speed and movement of Mori. Pumicpic, knowing he was the slower man, tried to attack the body, and seemed to be willing to play the longer against the inexperienced and unproven Mori.
In round 5 Pumicpic suffered a cut from a head clash. He escaped the first inspection, but soon was stopped afterward as the doctor took a second look and waved the bout off, just shy of the half way mark of round 5. That took us to the scores cards which 47-49 to Mori, 48-47 to Pumicpic and 49-46 to Mori, who claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title with a split technical decision.
Given the inconclusive ending, and how the bout had been competitive up to the finish, a rematch would make a lot of sense, though we suspect the two men will go in different directions, given there is a lot of talent and interesting match ups to make regionally at 126lbs. Pumipic deserves a rematch, given how he lost the title, but his career has often been one full of hard luck and unfortunate set backs. For Mori however today's win really boosts his standing in the sport and we wouldn't be surprised to see him in the WBO world rankings in the near future, helped significantly by today's regional title win.
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