July is a super stacked month, full of interesting fights and exciting returns. Well this will be no exemption, as on the 29th we will witness the comeback of former Japanese champion Shohei Omori (18-2).
Since his father was also a boxer, Omori took up the sport at an early age, even competed at the 65th National Boxing Tournament during his high school years, reaching second place. Only a year later, he made his pro debut in 2011, knocking out Shuhei Hasegawa. He gathered 10 more victories, mostly against local competition, including Yusuke Tachikawa (7-2*), Kiron Omura (11-2*), Yubon Kaneyama (10-3*), before facing his first serious challenge, in the more experienced Mexican fighter, as well as world title challenger, Christian Esquivel (27-4*). Omori looked like the veteran in this outing, controlling the fight from the beginning and eventually stopping Esquivel in the 4th round, after 3 consecutive knockdowns.
In 2015, he earned the opportunity to fight for the Japanese Bantamweight title, taking on the reigning champion Kentaro Masuda (21-6*) at Korakuen Hall. Omori quickly dominated the match, dropping the champion twice in the 1st. Masuda found himself defending against the challengers nonstop offense, offering almost no resistance, until he got caught in the 3rd with a thunderous left hook, which led to the referee calling for the bell and crowning Omori the 69th Japanese Bantamweight champion.
He successfully defended his crown, 4 months later, against 2-time world title contender and future Asia Pacific champion Hirofumi Mukai (11-3*), to continue climbing the world rankings. However, that momentum came to an abrupt ending when he came face to face with Marlon Tapales (27-2*) on December of the same year. Omori got dropped thrice in the opening round and eventually TKOed, tasting defeat for the first time in his career.
Despite suffering a devastating loss, Omori wasn’t ready to give up. Instead, he came back stronger than before, earning back to back KO wins. In April of 2016, he made short work of Indonesian champion Espinos Sabu (15-8*). He then fought Edgar Jimenez (22-11*) in August. The Japanese put the outsider down in the 3rd round after a plethora of strikes, which rendered him unable to continue. His third victory was on December 31st against former OPBF champion and 2-time world title contender Rocky Fuentes (35-8*). Unlike the other two, this was a completely different fight as both men were highly skilled and well-rounded. Omori fought cleverly, buying his time, a strategy that paid of, as he knocked the Philippino out with a killer uppercut, which came out of nowhere, thus putting him in world title contention.
In 2017, at the EDION Arena in Osaka, Omori challenged for the WBO World Bantamweight championship. Ironically, his opponent and new champion, was non other than Marlon Tapales, who managed to capture the gold after defeating Panya Uthok the previous year. It was almost as fate was giving Omori a chance at redemption. The bout started with both fighters going back and forth, with no one really gaining an advantage over the other. Business was about to pick up though, as Omori hurt the champion in the 5th with a series of body shots, much to the delight of the Japanese audience. Tapales woke up in the 6th round, fighting more aggressively. In the beginning of round 7, Omori rocked him again, and while it looked like the match was almost over, Tapales fired back, gaining some much needed ground. Both warriors went on to have an exciting FOTYC, trading blows within the next rounds, with no man backing down. In the end, Tapales managed to score a knocked down during the last minute of the 10th round, dazing Omori, and then again in the 11th, causing the referee to stop the match. Even in defeat, Omori looked strong, putting on a valiant effort, earning the respect of his opponent as well as the fans.
After 15 months of absence, he finally makes his return to the ring, fighting Philippino standout Brian Lobetania (13-5) on July 29, at the same building he was last seen. This should be a relatively easy win for Omori, who will look to quickly get back into world title contention. At 25 years of age and already a one time world title challenger, it is only logical that we will see him in the main event again in no time.