The OPBF Super Middleweight title is one of the many titles in boxing that lacks credible fighters, well at least ones willing to fight for it. Sadly that has lead to some very matches in recent years, and it seems we're set to get another on April 12th when reigning champion Yuzo Kiyota (29-4-1, 27) [清田 祐三] faces Shintaro Matsumoto (12-4, 9) [松本 晋太郎], for the third time.
The two men first met back in in 2012, during Kiyota's first reign as the champion, when Kiyota won in 7 rounds. The men then rematched the following year, with Kiyota winning in 4 rounds to become a 2-time champion.
Since their second bout Kiyota has gone 5-0 (5), defending the title thrice against weak opponents and fighting twice about the limit in stay busy bouts. The champion hasn't looked great, and was dropped a couple of fights back by Kajornsak Sithsaithong, but has found a way to see off his limited opposition. Matsumoto on the other hand has gone 2-0 (1) though has been fighting at Light Heavyweight, and facing some dire Thai opponents.
It's fair to say, that like their first two bouts, Kiyota will be the favourite and should be much fancied to win.
In the ring the champion is a limited fighter, with spiteful power. He can box, a bit, but isn't a practitioner in the sweet science and is instead a puncher, as seen by his record. Whilst his skills aren't the best the biggest issue is his lack of speed which will hold him back from ever really moving to the top level, despite having fought for a world title in 2013 against Robert Stieglitz.
Whilst the champion is limited he does have that power and aggression to turn bouts around and see off opponents, as shown by an impressive 79% stoppage rate. That power isn't something the challenger has and he's also rather limited. In fact Matsumoto is very limited and lacks the toughness to go to the top, in fact he has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, and was exposed as being very fragile to the body in one of those losses.
Whilst Kiyota has shown some issues with over-looking opponents in recent times we can't see him over-looking Matsumoto here, and instead we suspect Kiyota will see off his foe inside 6 rounds to retain his title. Hopefully next time out Kiyota will face a more testing opponent than a man he has already stopped, twice.
We don't like acting as the negative whiners in boxing, in fact we're generally positive about the sport and are really excited about the new generation of fighters who are breaking through the ranks. Whilst we read that boxing is dead we're trying to push attention to the rising crop of fighters who are coming through. Sadly however even we need to admit that we are disgusted at our great sport.
One of the things that has disgusted us is the recent string of OPBF Super Middleweight title challengers, who are simply unfit for purpose and are typically unable to make for good, competitive match ups. The next of those challengers is to Indonesian fighter Michael Speed Sigarlaki (16-15-2, 14), a very limited challenger who has moved through the weights though has claimed a single title, an Indonesian Super Featherweight title that he won 6 years ago. Sadly he makes for a very poor challenger for reigning champion Yuzo Kiyota (28-4-1, 26), who isn't a great champion but should be matched more competitively than this.
Kiyota won the title, for the second time, just less than 2 years ago and has run up two defences. They have come against opponents with a combined record of 23-18-4 (17) and have proven little, other then the that fact Kiyota can fight down to the level of his opposition.
In the ring the champion is a powerful, heavy handed and aggressive fighter. He was once a wild fighter though has, in recent years, tamed some of the wildness due to an opening round defeat back in 2010 to Jameson Bostic. When he boxes behind a jab he is a naturally heavy handed fighter but one who can still be tagged and does still have defense flaws.
Kiyota's career has really been helped by the lack of balls on the OPBF's behalf, with the OPBF rarely demanding the champion face a mandatory challenger, which could have been against the likes of Zac Dunn, Jake Carr or Trent Broadhurst. Instead he has faced a steady stream of poor challengers who have lacked the experience, skills, will or determination to claim the title. Notably however he was dropped last time out by Kajornsak Sithsaithong in what was a genuine surprise.
As for Sigarlaki, the Indonesian who made his debut almost 10 years ago, there is little to really be excited about. He, on paper, has power though has never managed to stop a name opponent whilst he's typically been stopped by those “known” fighters. Those have included Saddam Kietyongyuth, Rey Labao, Patomsuk Pathompothong and, most recently, Akio Shibata. Notably the Shibata fight came this year and saw Shibata stopping him in the 4th of a scheduled 10 rounds.
Whilst Sigarlaki is limited, and can be stopped, perhaps the most notable thing about him is his record in fights outside of his homeland. Outside of Indonesian he is 0-7, with all 7 losses coming in 4 or fewer rounds. We'd be very shocked if that didn't continue here with Kiyota having the power to finish this one very early.
We'd be shocked if this one goes beyond 4 and even more shocked if Kiyota was in any trouble at all.
The OPBF title is seen as a major stepping stone for many fighters in the Oriental region. It's the Asian equivalent to the European title and is a belt that many of the region's top fighters win before moving on to world level. Current world champions such as Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka have both claimed the title in recent times as have so many others.
Sadly however the OPBF belt really isn't valued very highly in the higher weights and the Super Middleweight title has essentially been ignored year after year. For much of the last decade only one man has shown a real desire to hold it and hold it he has, for around 7 years through multiple reigns.
That man is hard hitting Japanese fighter Yuzo Kiyota (27-4-1, 25).
Kiyota is best known not for his reign as the OPBF champion but instead his 2013 world title challenge of Robert Stieglitz. That bout saw Kiyota suffer his most recent loss but get the chance to fight at the top of the sport in what was a very notable match up, as it always is when we see Japanese fighters competing at the higher weights.
Although not the most skilled Kiyota is a relatively solid fighter. He's not quite a fringe world guy but he's heavy handed enough for fighters to avoid rather than chase for the title. He's limited skill wise but has serious power, he improving after every fight and looks to be a much better fighter than he once was. Early on he was a wild and free swinging fighter, looking for the early victories though he has managed to develop his skills and is now more defensively sound than he once was.
On July 7th we see Kiyota defending his regional title again. It will be his second defense of his current reign, that began in December 2013, and his 7th defense in total across 2 reigns as the champion. Sadly however his opponent leaves a lot to be desired in what appears to be a horrible mismatch.
The champion will be putting his belt on the line against little known Thai Kajornsak Sithsaithong (7-5, 7). We know some Asian fighters have misleading records, especially Thai's, but Kajornsak's record does seem to reflect his ability pretty fairly, and that's not a good thing for the Thai.
Kajornsak comes into this bout with back-to-back losses, both suffered in China. Incidentally he is 0-4 outside of his native Thailand and is also 0-4 against fighters with a single win to their name, in fact his wins to date have come over opponents with a combined 0-1 record. To say he's not deserving of a title fight is really just stating the obvious.
Whilst his record and competition have been poor what's even more of an issue is his ability. Whilst we've only managed to come across footage from one of his fights, his 2014 bout with Back Kistkriengkrai, that footage sums up why his record is so poor. Back, a terrible fighter himself, seemed to out box Kajornsak in the opening round of their before mentally crumbling after being hit back and tiring himself out and being stopped whilst looking like a total novice. The finish not only showed how bad Back was but also how misleading Kajornsak's “KO rate” is.
From the footage of the two men there is only one outcome, Kiyota wins this by stoppage. There is nothing that Kajornsak appears to have in his locker that should trouble the champion who should feel disappointed if this goes beyond 8 rounds.
Hopefully when, not if, Kiyota wins he will then focus on getting a fight with a decent Australian, rather than more appalling challengers like Kajornsak and Abhay Chand before him.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
For those who haven't seen these two in action we've included footage of each man below.
Since we started previewing all OPBF and Japanese title fights at the start of 2014 we've always had some idea about a fighter, even if it's been very limited knowledge there has always been either footage, fight reports or information that we've managed to hunt down that has allowed us to construct a view on both men involved in a bout. This coming Tuesday however we have a real mystery man challenging for the OPBF Super Middleweight title.
That challenger is the unranked Fijian Abhay Chand (16-13-4, 10), a 35 year old who has certainly not had the sort of fights to get on the radar of many fans.
What we do know about Chand is that he has been a pro turn since the turn of the century having made his debut in 2000 in his native Fiji where we believe he has fought 26 of his 33 professional bouts. As well as his homeland Chand has fought twice in Samoa, losing both bouts including an opening round loss to Leti Leti last time out, and 5 times in Australia, where again he has lost every time he has fought in the country.
Although footage and images of Chand are hard to come by we have thankfully recognised some of the fighters who have beaten him, including Zac Awad, Daniel Dawson and Robert Medley, who have all stopped Chand.
One other thing we know about Chand is that he has often fought in lower weights including Welterweight. It's been at lower weights that Chand has scored his most notable achievements having won both the Fijian Middleweight title and the Oceanic Boxing Association Light Middleweight title.
Up against Chand will be Japan's heavy handed OPBF champion Yuzo Kiyota (26-4-1, 24), one of the heaviest handed men in Asia and someone who we tend to enjoy watching. Of course to compare Chand, an unknown, to Kiyota is frankly ridiculous and we'd be very surprised if anyone reading this wasn't at least aware of Kiyota who of course challenged Robert Stieglitz for the WBO Super Middleweight title last year. Although Kiyota came up short against Stieglitz it was still a chance for many to be introduced to a man who had run roughshod over the national and regional scenes in recent years.
Kiyota, a genuine puncher with a real mean streak, is a multi-time OPBF champion at 168lbs and has featured in every bout for the title over the last 6 years. We'll not pretend he's been beating a who's who of the division but he has been scoring stoppages regularly whilst defending his title against the likes of Les Piper, Shintaro Matsumoto and Hiromitso Miura.
Sadly for Kiyota, though also part of the reasoning for this bout with Chand, is the fact he is seen as a high risk-low reward opponent in an area of the world where Super Middleweights are few and far between. The better ranked contenders, such as Zac Dunn, Jake Carr, Ben McCulloch and Trent Broadhurst, come from Australia where they can get paid more for non-title fights against the limited locals than they would get for a fight with the heavy handed Kiyota. It's been this that has meant his last two bouts have both been non-title fights and also why Chand is viewed as an acceptable challenger despite not being ranked.
Although we don't know much about Chand we are aware than he has been stopped in many of his defeats and suspect that, with Kiyota's power, that will again be the outcome here with the finish likely occurring in the first 6 or 7 rounds, essentially whenever Kiyota feels comfortable going for the kill.
(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.