Boxers being moved at a rapid fire pace has become common place in Japan with Kazuto Ioka, Naoya Inoue, Kosei Tanaka, Hiroto Kyoguchi and Ken Shiro all capturing a world title in 10 fights or less and domestic and regional straps being claimed in a handful of bouts has also become a frequent occurrence.
The next fighter from the land of the rising sun aiming to continue this trend was Hinata Maruta who challenged OPBF super bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake at the Korakuen Hall on 13 October in just his 6th pro contest.
There has been a real buzz and excitement around Maruta for a while within Japanese boxing circles with many tipping the 20-year-old for huge things. The highlight of an excellent amateur career which saw him go 55-11 31 KOs came when he won a Bronze in the 2013 Asian Youth Championships.
Maruta’s anticipated professional debut came in November 2015 in a 6 rounder against Jason Canoy. The Filipino was world ranked at the time and this was a real gamble on behalf of Maruta’s handlers at the Morioka Gym. The risk proved to be worth taking as Maruta prevailed on points and dropped Canoy in the 4th round to make a real statement.
After a facile opening round win versus an overmatched Thai 4 months later, Maruta faced unbeaten Filipino Wilbert Berondo for the WBC Youth bantamweight crown in July 2016. Berondo was taken out in round 6 and the man from Japan had won his first title. His first defense came against the once beaten Joe Tejones 4 months later and after taking his time Maruta scored a 7th round KO. Before his OPBF contest undefeated Indonesian Hanson Tiger Lamandau was dispatched in 6 rounds in March.
Going in to the bout with Otake there was definite intrigue with the 36-year-old champion possessing a wealth of experience at national and regional level whilst the challenger had the youth and height and reach advantages. After 4 rounds it was all to play for but experience then proved to be the order of the day as Otake assumed command and triumphed with a unanimous point’s victory with scores of 116-112 twice and 117-111.
Maruta showed flashes of his class at times but couldn’t maintain distance for long enough and was dragged in to an inside tussle which suited Otake perfectly. The youngster’s career certainly isn’t over and he should gain a huge amount from going the 12 rounds for the first time and he now knows what he needs to work on to move on to the next level. Finally, a deserved word on Otake who is now in line for a major bout with numerous domestic options available for him.
(Image courtesy of Morioka Boxing Gym)