The contest saw defending champion Keita Obara (12-1, 11) start cautiously against fellow heavy handed fighter Shinya Iwabuchi (23-5, 19). As we often see when puncher collide their apprehension, a tense feeling, an anticipation that 1 shot would be all that was needed to ended the bout.
After 4 rounds the tension mounted with the judges struggling to split the men on the open scoring, which were all very close. It was clear that something had to change, and change it did.
In round 5 the pace heated up. It almost as if both men realised they were fighting within themselves. As the pace heated up the fans quickly warmed to the occasion and in round 8 things began to move to a fever pitch. The bout was no longer being fought with nerves but desire, the desire to win. The step up in pace appeared to suit Obara who was now leading on all 3 cards.
By the start of round 12 it seemed likely that we were going to the scorecards but then, suddenly, Obara showed off his destructive power and within 20 seconds of the final round the referee was forced to stop the bout.
The win for Obara was his first defence though with Iwabuchi holding a world ranking previous to this contest the win meant more than just retaining the title. For Iwabuchi however this is his second set back in an OPBF title fight, following an even more exciting loss to Min Wook Kim last year, perhaps signalling that his level is on the Japanese domestic front.
Having just mentioned Min Wook Kim we'd really love to see the South Korean "Sniper" battle against Obara in what would be an amazing bout. Kim's compatriot Ja Ik Goo would also be an interesting opponent for Obara stylistically though probably lacks the experience needed to hold his own against the champion.
Although no video of this contest is currently available to share we are expecting some in the next 36 hours so hold tight folks.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)