The Flyweight division is an Asian dominated one right now, with two world champions from Japan and one from the Philippines, with the other actually being a Ukrainian based fighter born in Azerbaijan. Despite the Asian domination at the top it does seem like the OPBF title scene is a little bit disappointing Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-2, 4) being viewed as a weak champion as he goes into his second defense this coming Tuesday, against Filipino Jayr Raquinel (8-0-1, 5).
Nakayama is regarded as a weak champion because of his career so far. He was 6-2-1 (3) after his first 9 bouts, and since then he has gone 4-0-1 (1) with 3 razor decision wins and he could easily have gone 1-4 in that recent 5 fight run. In another world his record could easily read 6-6-1 (4), and whilst close fights aren't a bad thing by themselves, the consistency of close for Nakayama, at the level he's fighting at, does suggest he's not a world beater in the making. In fact he's a somewhat lucky Oriental champion.
In his title win Nakayama took a split decision over Richard Claveras whilst his first defense saw him take a controversial split decision draw over Joebert Alvarez. In both of those fights Nakayama was unconvincing and had they not both taken place in Tokyo he would have likely lost both. He lacks power, he lacks world class speed and although he can grit his teeth and fight there is little really that stands out about Nakayama, or his future and given he's 30 this year it's hard to imagine him even holding this title for long.
It seems weird to say of an OPBF champion, but Nakayama likely isn't even in the top 5 Japanese fighters at his own weight. He's clearly some distance behind Daigo Higa and Sho Kimura, we'd fancy Masayuki Kuroda and Katsunori Nagamine to beat him, Junto Nakatani would likely be favoured over him, and we'd not be surprised if Ryota Yamauchi, Seigo Yuri Akui or Akinori Hoshino would dethrone him, if they got a shot at him.
Aged 21 Raquinel is a bit of a boxing baby, but already has close to 4 years of experience under his belt. Sadly so far Raquinel has only fought at the domestic level, though has gone unbeaten and last time out claimed the OPBF interim title by out pointing Richard Rosales. That win over Rosales is the best win for Raquinel, but he also has a victory over Jimboy Haya, a very good win for such a novice.
Sadly there isn't a huge amount of footage of Raquinel, though from the footage available he does look a very promising young southpaw. He has a very sharp straight left hand, a snappy jab and looks to go to the body with his left hand. There's power there and great speed, as well as a very confident bounce in his step. Of course his competition hasn't been the best, and he has never fought away from home before, but he does look like a talent, and if managed well there is a lot of upside for Raquinel.
The big question here isn't whether ot not Raquinel is a better boxer, he certainly appears to be better, but more whether he's ready for a fight at this level. The bout might be a touch too early for him, and he may have been better off waiting a year to physically mature and develop more experience. However he is certainly a very under-dog here, and we'd not be surprised by his youthfulness and speed being too much for the flawed and uninspiring Nakayama. However with it being so early in Raquinel's career we do feel that Nakayama's experience, especially in longer bouts, will be the difference as he records another razor thin and debatable defense.
On October 13th fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get two OPBF title fights. The “lesser” of those will see Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-1, 4) make his first defense of the OPBF Flyweight title as he takes on the once touted Filipino Jobert Alvarez (17-2-1, 7). For both men this is a huge bout, and could potentially move the winner towards a world title fight in 2018.
The champion won the title last time out, narrowly defeating the heavy handed Richard Claveras, and prior to that win he hadn't really been too well known. In fact his only other win of note was a decision over Naoki Mochizuki and his most notable other bout was a lop-sided decision loss to Hiroyuki Kudaka back in 2015. Despite being so unknown prior to his win over Claveras it does need to be said that Nakayama is an improving fighter, and at 29 years old is probably just starting to see everything click into place.
Coming into this bout Nakayama has won his last 4, he's in good form and seems to have realised he's a Flyweight, not a Super Flyweight. He can box, move and if dragged into a brawl at this level he can hold his own on the inside.
Whilst Nakayama has only just started to get on the radar of fight fans the same can't be said for Alvarez, who has fought several notable foes. Early in his career he was touted as a potential star of the future, and wins against Renren Tesorio and Jerry Tomgodan did help him with some early notoriety. In 2014 he twice fought in Mexico, beating former “world” title challenger Julian Rivera and then putting in a very good showing against Juan Francisco Estrada. The Estrada bout should have launched Alvarez into true contender status, but he would be out of the ring for over a year, wasting his chance to build on the win.
Since losing to Estrada we've seen Alvarez score an amazing win over Jonathan Gonzalez in Puerto Rico, suffer a surprising stoppage loss to Miguel Cartagena, inside a round. Since then he has scored two simple decisions in the Philippines and rebuilt some of his confidence.
In the ring Alvarez is a really talented boxer, out boxing Estrada at times, but he can be dragged into wars, as he was against Gonzalez and Cartagena, and can be dropped, as he has been in a number of bouts. If he gets into a war here there is a good chance he'll come up short, and that's despite the fact Nakayama isn't much of a puncher.
We're expecting the two men to show a bit of everything here. They will look to fight on the outside, and the bout will start slowly, but as it goes on, and as they get used to the other man's power, it will gradually build into a war. The second half of the fight will be thrilling, with rounds that are all action. Though we do favour Nakayama to come out on top, being cheered by his local fans which will just get him over the line for his first defense.
The Flyweight division is one of the most interesting in Asia with so many top fighters coming from the region, and all 4 current world champions are from the region with Kazuto Ioka, Zou Shiming, Donnie Nietes and Daigo Higa holding the four world titles. As well as all 4 world champions the region also boasts a number of top contenders, like Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, Toshiyuki Igarashi and Muhamad Waseem.
Due to all the top heavy talent there is a bit of a void on the Oriental title scene, and that's being seen this coming Tuesday when former world title challenger Richard Claveras (17-2-2, 14) battled against little known Japanese fighter Keisuke Nakayama (9-2-1, 4) for the OPBF title.
Of the two fighters Claveras is the more well known. As mentioned he is a former world title challenger, having fought Pedro Guevara for the WBC Light Flyweight title back in 2015. Since then he has gone 5-1 (2) and shown a developing skillset and less of a dependency on his power. Whilst we have seen him lose since the Guevara bout, suffering a decision defeat to Jonathan Refugio, he has also scored a number of notable wins on the domestic scene. Those wins have included victories over Jerry Tomogdan and Jeronil Borres and have shown that he's one of the best in the Philippines at the weight, even if he is a long way behind the aforementioned Nietes.
Early in his career Claveras looked like little more than a wild slugger, the type of fighter who is talented, but relied on power and lacked the skills to match. That was shown against Guevara, who stopped him inside a round showing just how unprepared the Filipino was for a world title fight. Since then however it seems like Claveras has taken the loss as a learning experience and is moving onwards and upwards, bouncing back in a really good fashion. He's still flawed, and still looks rough around the edges, but he's certainly better than he was just a few years ago.
Whilst Claveras is somewhat known, due to his bout against Guevara, the same cannot be said of Nakayama who has never fought out of Japan and has only shared the ring with a few men of note. Of those he has suffered losses to Kenichi Miyazaki and Hiroyuki Hisataka, and narrowly over-come Naoki Mochizuki. Although he does lack much in terms of notable wins he has won his last 3,and has rebuilt well following the loss to Hisataka just over 2 years ago.
Aged 28 it's fair to say that Nakayama may have some developing left, but the reality is that the southpaw is about as good as he's likely to get. That's not a shameful thing, but it's likely summing up that he's below title level. He's gutsy but has been ran close a number of times and could easily have had 2, if not 3, more losses on his record. He's talented, but lacks any outstanding quality and doesn't actually hits as hard as his record suggests.
Although home advantage will certainly help Nakayama, and could essentially help him win close rounds, it's really hard to see him defeating the Filipino puncher, who we suspect will win a clear and wide decision. Claveras' edge in experience and power will simply be too much for the Japanese fighter.
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.