This past weekend saw Ryota Murata (8-0, 5) continue his rise through the ranks. It's worth noting however that he's not the only Japanese Middleweight worth making a note of and another is the unified Japanese and OPBF champion Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) who retained his unified titles on Monday with a 7th round TKO victory over puncher Koki Tyson Maebara (9-2-1, 9).
Going in to the bout we expected the fight to be a case of boxer, Shibata, Vs puncher, Maebara. Instead however it became a contest between a talented fighter and a man who was incredibly out classed.
Shibata took control from the off landing his straight right hand to the body of the challenger. The control of Shibata seemed to frustrate Maebara who left himself open and was dropped from a counter in round 3. The knockdown, and early domination, saw Shibata establishing a 40-35 lead on the scorecards after 4 rounds.
Maebara had some of his best success in rounds 5 and 6 as Shibata began to hold his feet. On paper it might have seemed a stupid idea but it was a sign of Shibata's confidence as he looked for counters, which he continued to land and it was towards the end of round 6 that he again dropped Maebara, who was saved by the bell. The bell that saved Maebara didn't save him for long as he was stopped mid-way through the following round as Shibata turned the screw.
For Maebara this will be a very hard loss to take, though he does have the time to come back from it. For Shibata however this win will be a sweet one and prove, even at the age of 33, that he's still one of the very best "higher" weight fighters in Asia.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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