At it's best the OPBF title scene is one of the most interesting with a lot of great fighters winning the Oriental title before progressing into world title bouts. Fighters like Kosei Tanaka and Naoya Inoue both used the Oriental title as a stepping stone in recent years en route to proving themselves at world level. Other times they are at a slightly lower level, but usually a more competitive level. That's the case this coming Thursday when OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (14-3-1, 8) defends his belt against once beaten Filipino Randy Braga (19-1-1, 5).
Takenaka, a talented fighters from the Misako gym, won the title last year when he scored an eye catching KO win over former champion Vinvin Rufino. Since then he has defended the title just once, stopping the over-matched Akira Shono in 6 rounds.
Prior to winning the title Takenaka had had a career that had promised a lot but delivered little. He had turned professional with a lot of promise and was moved into 8 rounders in just his third bout. Sadly a technical draw against Nobuhisa Coronita Doi slowed Takenaka's progress before a disappointing 2012 saw him suffer losses to Masayuki Wakimoto and Ryol Li Lee. A winning run following those losses was ended in 2014 when he lost to the then OPBF champion Hisashi Amagasa, though came incredibly close to upsetting Amagasa.
Since the loss to Amagasa we've seen Takenaka go 3-0 (2) and prove that he's both a solid and well rounded boxer, as well as someone who hits harder than his record indicates. He's not world class, in any way, but he's a solid all rounder who shouldn't be ignored based on his losses. He's solid and whilst he's too old to really improve, given he's 31, he's still a very credible fighter and genuinely one of the top Featherweights in the Orient.
The once beaten Braga debuted back in 2006 though took a lengthy break after his debut bout, leaving the ring for more than 4 years. Since returning to the ring in 2011 he's been busy and built an impressive looking record. His competition hasn't been murderer's row but wins against Vergil Puton, Carlo Magali and Neil John Tabanao are all solid victories, and his only loss was a controversial one in South Africa to the big punching Macbute Sinyabi.
Although footage of Braga is rare and hard to hard we have seen him being dropped, with Danilo Pena dropping him with huge southpaw left hand. He recovered from that knockdown to defeat Pena but there are question marks about his chin, at least against decent Featherweights, and he'll be looking to avoid the under-rated power of Takenaka. If he can do that, and use his own skills, there is a good chance that he could out box Takenaka, or out work him up close.
Although the bout should be competitive we do imagine the champion has to be favoured here, and will probably make the second defense of his title, though should have to bit down and prove himself on route to a win
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.