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.