Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake (22-1-3, 9) successfully made the 4th defense of his national title earlier today as he narrowly defeated rival Takafumi Nakajima (22-7-1, 9) for the second time.
The men, who first met in August 2012 when Otake won the vacant title, were expected to be very evenly matched here and that's exactly what happened with both giving their all in a very hard fought bout that neither man seemed to really dominate.
The competitiveness of the bout was shown on the scorecards after 5 rounds with the open scoring, which Japan has introduced for all national title fights, showing a split in opinion of the fight. Whilst two of the judges had Otake in the lead, 48-47, one of the judges had Nakajima up, 49-47.
In the second half of the fight however Otake stepped on the gas and seemed to take control of the bout somewhat. His stamina paying dividends as all 3 judges awarded him the close decision with scores of 96-95, 96-94, 97-93. It what was yet another tough, tough night at the office for the champion.
We're not sure why Otake seems to have a hard day with every challenger he has faced so far. He's talented and has great stamina though always appears to genuinely struggle and he would likely come come up short if he was matched with OPBF champion Shingo Wake as a result.
Ranked #3 by the IBF and #15 by the WBO we can't imagine Otake will be risking a potential world title fight by facing Wake but it is a bout we want to see. What we're more likely to see however is Otake vacating his title for a world title eliminator later this year in what could proven to be an excellent move for the 32, soon to be 33, year old.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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