On February 11th we potentially get another great fight in the division as the OPBF title is put on the line for a fight between Japan's exciting Shinya Iwabuchi (26-5, 22) [岩渕 真也] and Filipino banger Al Rivera (14-2, 12), who trade blows for the vacant title. For Iwabuchi it'll be his third shot an OPBF title, having previously been a Japanese national champion, whilst Rivera will be fighting in his first OPBF title bout, though has previously held the PBF 135lb title.
From the records it's clear that both men can bang. Iwabuchi sports a 71% KO rate with stoppages against the likes of Romeo Jakosalem, Jimrex Jaca, Valentine Hosokawa, and Koichi Aso, who was stopped inside a round by Iwabuchi. Rivera on the other hand holds a 75% KO rate, including a notable but controversial KO win against countryman Adones Cabalquinto. Between them they have only heard the final bell on 9 occasions*.
Of the two men it's fair to describe Iwabuchi as the more proven. The 30 year old Japanese southpaw has shared the ring with the likes of countryman Keita Obara and South Korean slugger Min Wook Kim, who beat beat him in OPBF title fights, as well as the stoppage victims mentioned above. Rivera however is the younger man, at just 22, and will be riding high in confidence after his win over Cabalquinto last November.
Not only is Iwabuchi the more proven but he's also naturally the bigger and tougher. His only stoppage loss came to the monstrously hard hitting Obara, whilst he dug in for 12 rounds against Kim, whilst Rivera has been stopped twice, including an opening round defeat on his debut at 130lbs.
Given that both men like to throw heavy shots, and can be hurt, we really don't see this one going the distance. Instead we suspect we'll see a short but exciting fight, with the visitor being the early aggressor, Iwabuchi soaking up the aggression before firing back in rounds 4 and 5 eventually stopping a tiring Rivera in the middle rounds of a thrilling fight.
The exchanges will be violent and the action intense. Don't miss this one when it's shown on Fuji TV later in the month.
*Iwabuchi holds a technical decision win.