Boxing has a number of fearsome punchers across all levels of the sport. At the elite level we of course have Gennady Golovkin and Servey Kovalev, as well as Shinsuke Yamanaka and Keith Thurman. At the Oriental level we have the thunderously heavy handed Keita Obara (13-1, 12) who seems to destroy what he hits time and time again.
On March 13th fans get the next chance to see Obara in action as he looks to make the second defence of his OPBF Light Welterweight title and over-come the relatively unknown Yuya Okazaki (11-7-1, 4), who is looking for the biggest win of his career.
Obara certainly isn't the biggest name at 140lbs though he is among the biggest punchers in the division and he certainly has vicious lights out power. As well as that power he has impressive skills, movement and speed. We're not going to try and make out that Obara is a slippery and wonderful counter puncher but he's a solid boxer-puncher with a lot of variety in his shots.
One thing Obara has that many of the other promising fighters in the division don't have is a loss. This was suffered on his debut when he came up short against Kazuyoshi Kumano. In that bout Obara showed his inexperience and appeared over-confident before blowing his wad and being stopped out on his feet. Since that bout however the Japanese fighter has developed significantly with his pacing and stamina.
There are still flaws in what Obara does. His right hand can be rather wide at times and he does drop his left hand more than he should. With his power, movement and counter-punching ability he does punish opponents if they fail to make him pay for his mistakes. And when we say makes them pay we really mean it, as seen when he iced Shinya Iwabuchi last year with a thundering combination in the 12th round of their bout last year. Incidentally it was the bout with Iwabuchi that answered a number of questions regarding Obara's stamina.
Unfortunately we don't know much about Okazaki who is, genuinely, one of the most obscure OPBF title challengers we've seen recently. His record suggests he's nothing special with 7 losses in 19 fights and unfortunately for him it's not just the numbers that suggest his limitations but also his opposition. In fact with losses to Shoji Kawase, a debuting Accel Sumiyoshi, Kazuya Maruki and, more recently a stoppage loss to Hayato Hokazono it's hard to see what Okazaki has in his locker. In fact having gone 3-5 in his last 8 we really do wonder what “qualifies” him as a challenger.
Notably the 3-5 run of Okazaki in his last 8 does included his best win to date, a very close decision win over Daiki Koide. That, on paper, is a solid win though we can't imagine Koide being any threat at all to Obara so a narrow win over him tells us little about how Okazaki would cope with Obara.
Even though we view him as a major under-dog there are a few interesting little details about Okazaki which are worth making a note of. Firstly he's one of the few fighters that will be taller than Obara Light Welterweight, stood at 5'11” Okazaki is a tall fighter and boasts a ½″ height advantage over Obara. He is also a southpaw which could give Obara some issues, however he won't the first southpaw to face Obara who has already faced 4 southpaws, including Iwabuchi and Jay Solmiano.
Everything about this fight points towards an easy, mid-round stoppage for Obara who is too powerful, too proven and too good for Okazaki. On the other hand there is one question about the champion, how easily does he make 140lbs? We suspect this could be his last fight at the weight before he makes a permanent move to 147lbs where he will be more comfortable than he is at 140lbs.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.