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The OPBF title at 140lbs has a history that dates back more than 50 years and has been held by some great fighters, like Takeshi Fuji, Sang Hyun Kim and Morris East whilst recent champions like Min Wook Kim and Keita Obara have managed to gain some international attention. Despite it's rich history it hasn't really worked too much as a stepping stone for world champions in the making and has instead acted as the top prize for many in the region and has given us some great fights over the years, such as Min Wook Kim Vs Shinya Iwabuchi and the back and forth thriller between Chul Gang and Hong-Kyu Lim. It may not be the best division historically for Asian fighters but it's been one that has often delivered action.
Another potential thriller set for the title will take place this coming Friday in an all-Filipino bout between the huge punching Al Rivera (16-2, 14), who is making his first defense of the title, and the twice beaten challenger Adones Cabalquinto (23-2, 15). The bout not only has the title on the line but has a number of sub-stories involved in it and could, potentially open the doors to big fights for the winner next year, especially given the talent coming through in the division regionally.
Since their first bout Cabalquinto has struggled to get much going in terms of career momentum. he scored two wins over limited opponents earlier this year but was beaten in July in Singapore by Qudratillo Abduqaxorov. Prior to the loss to Rivera it seemed almost nailed on that Cabalquinto was just a fight or two away from a major title fight, and was likely moving towards a vacant OPBF title fight, likely with Iwabuchi.
In the ring Cabalquinto has shown some promise with nice hand speed and a fun aggressive mentality that sees him letting his hands go happily. Sadly his defense has been flawed through his career and his footwork looks very plodding, in fact at times it looks like he totally forgets to even use his feet and just lets his punches go whilst standing still. That footwork seems to limit his power and although he has a 60% KO rate he doesn't appear to be much of a puncher. His flaws haven't been a major problem against domestic level opponents on the whole, but the lack of defense did prove to be his undoing against Rivera.
As for Rivera he has gone from beating Cabalquinto back in November 2015 to becoming the Oriental champion and looking like a genuine monster in the process. Whilst the win over his countryman was his first big win his February victory over Shinya Iwabuchi was an eye opening beat down in which he bullied Iwabuchi like no one before him, and forced Iwabuchi into retirement after a 7th round TKO. That performance was nothing short of impress from Rivera who really made a statement, and likely scared off invites back to Japan for a while.
In the ring Rivera is a bully. He's an all action, aggressive machine who gets in the ring and looks for a war with his power having been the telling factor in his last 6 bouts, all stoppages in a combined 17 rounds! Interestingly however he has been stopped twice, though both of those bouts were below the Light Welterweight limit, with one of those coming on his debut back in 2011 against Jeffrey Dumaguit. Those losses could mean Rivera hasn't a great chin or, alternatively, that he was simply a kid who hadn't developed into the man he is now, or maybe even that he was weight drained.
Whilst Cabalquinto might feel the first bout was a fluke for Rivera we have been convinced by recent results that Rivera is a monster with power and a really physical style. That will again be his key here and we simply feel that his strength and power will be too much for Cabalquinto, though we would be surprised if Rivera could finish off his countryman as quickly here as he did in their first meeting.