Last year we saw Japan's hard hitting Keita Obara (15-1-1, 14) [小原 佳太] fight to a draw with Nicaraguan tough-guy Walter Castillo (26-3-1, 19), in a bout that most neutral observers described as a terrible robbery against the Japanese fighter, who was making his US debut. The bout, which was aired on a PBC broadcast, was mentioned by some as a "robbery of the year" contender whilst Obara's team lodged a complaint regarding the judging of the bout, which had seemed like a very clear Obara win.
That had been designated an IBF world title eliminator at 140lbs with the winner to get a shot at the world champion. Unfortunately the result of the draw had seen the IBF order a rematch between the two men with the winner set to fight for a world title and that order had seen Misako, Obara's promoter, jump straight in trying to get a rematch sorted as quickly as possible. They seemed confident their guy had been screwed the first time and were out to set the record straight immediately.
Now, according to multiple sources in Japan, the rematch has been called off with Castillo's team less eager to take part in the rematch than Obara's team. This has seen Castillo's team decline the immediate rematch and as a result the IBF have given Obara a mandatory title fight.
Although now the mandatory Obara won't be the next challenger to unbeaten Russian Eduard Troyanovsky (23-0, 20), who will have a chance to make a voluntary defense before being forced to Obara later in the year. At the moment Troyanovsky doesn't have a bout lined up but is expected to defend the title in Russia before facing Obara later in the year.
The unbeaten Russian champion is a heavy handed fighter who won the title last year by beating tricky Argentinian Cesar Rene Cuenca. Stylistically he should make for an exciting and hard hitting bout with Obara, given that both men as huge punchers, however from what we've seen of both Obara is the more rounded fighter, the better mover and the more defensively aware fighter. He's also the taller and longer man.
At the moment it's unclear when or where the bout will take place, though Obara's team will likely try to get the bout at home given their experiences in the US. If the bout is to come against the Russian it's unlikely that Obara's team would win purse bids.
For those who missed Obara Vs Castillo, we've included it below.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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