To go along with our regular Sunday feature, "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." we've decided to try a similar feature here looking at something a little bit different. The OPBF. Here bring you "10 facts you probably didn't know about... the OPBF"
1-The OPBF was originally founded in 1952 as the OBF, the Oriental Boxing Federation, which it continued to be called until November 1977. It wasn't related to the previous Oriental Boxing Federation (OBF), which had existed before World War 2. It changed it's name after Australia and New Zealand were approved to join, necessitating the addition of "Pacific" to it's name.
2-It was set up by Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, with Korea joining in 1957
3-The OPBF themselves recognise the first OBF champion as Filipino legend Gabriel "Flash" Elorde for his October 18th win over Hiroshi Horiguchi, for the OBF Bantamweight title. In total Elorde fought in 23 OPB title bouts during his legendary career, and he actually fought against the second ever OBF champion, when he challenged Larry Bataan in May 1953 for the OBF Featherweight title. Elorde is also the first OBF champion as recognised by the WBC, who are the world title body associated with the OBF/OPBF.
4-Interestingly Boxrec lists the first OBF champion as Chamroen Songkitrat, who they say won the OBF title Lightweight title on October 13th 1952 with a win over Speedy Cabanela on October 13th 1952. From what we can find Chamroen's reign wasn't officially recognised until March 1953, when he stopped Masashi Akiyama, making him the fourth OBF champion, not the first.
5-The 21 defenses of the OPBF Middleweight title by Jae-Doo Yuh, from 1971 when he beat Cassius Naito to when he retired in 1978, is the most of any champion. Strangely Boxrec list him as having 22 defenses of the belt. The confusion with boxrec here is that the March 30th1975 bout against Nobuyoshi Ozaki, the second bout between the two men, isn't regarded as an official title defense. Regardless of the confusion he's the only fighter to have had 20 or more defenses of an OBF/OPBF title.
6-The "Gentle Giant" Rev Santillan, a Filipino who fought from 1995 to 2010, is the only man to be hold an OPBF title 4 times. He managed to win, and lose, the OPBF Welterweight title 4 times between 2001 and 2008. Interestingly he would fight numerous rematches during that time frame and went 1-1-1 with Hiroshi Watanabe, losing the belt and reclaiming it from Watanabe, losing the belt and regaining it from Kazuhiko Hidaka and losing twice to Motoki Sasaki
7-The OPBF began to recognise women's boxing in 2009, and had no connection to the OPFBA. Despite only being official recognised in 2009 they did recognise Susie Ramadan's 2008 victory over Michelle Preston as the first OPBF female title bout, and when the two rematched in 2009 Ramandan did record the first ever OPBF female title defense.Despite recognising female boxing there are only 11 weight classes recognised, from Atom to Welterweight excluding Light Welterweight.
8-Roman Kovalchuk, who won the OPBF Cruiserweight title in 2000 and defended it once, is the only European fighter to have won an OPBF title. He was from Ukraine.
9-On a similar note Xiong Zhao Zhong is the only Chinese fighter to have held an OPBF title, having won the OPBF title in 2015 with a win over Crison Omayao. Strangely he never defended the title.
10-Several reigning OPBF champions have been beaten by debutants. These include Akio Shibata, who was stopped by Ryota Murata, and Sae Chul Kang, who was beaten over 10 rounds by Ki Soo Kim
Recently we asked on twitter for fighters who fans wanted to see covered in these "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." articles. One of fighters we had requested was Yoko Gushiken, so here are "10 facts you probably didn't know about...Yoko Gushiken".
1-As an amateur Gushiken ran up a 62-3 (50) record
2-Before turning to boxing Gushiken had wanted to play baseball but was turned down by a team due to being too small.
3-Gushiken had a dog that he named after Juan Antonio Guzman, the man he originally beat for the title in 1976.
4-After becoming a world champion in 1976 Gushiken continued to work at a tonkatsu store. In fact he worked there until around the time of his 5th world title defense. His typical shifts were 11am to 3pm and he would typically earn around ¥40,000 a month for his work there.
5-Gushiken was managed by former fighter Masaki Kanehira who opened the Kanehira Gym, which would later become the Kyoei Gym. As a fighter Kanehira had a 15-19-3 (1) record yet his gym would go on to be one of the most significant in Japan
6-Gushiken has revealed on TV that he doesn't like cucumber
7-Gushiken was awarded the equivalent to the Japanese Fighter of the Year award 5 years in a row, form 1976 to 1980
8-"Conquistador" by Maynard Ferguson was his introduction music. The same track was later passed down to his protégé Daigo Higa. This can be heard below in the video on the right.
9-Gushiken was featured in advertising for Okinawa's "730 campaign", which was a a campaign to change the side of the road drivers in Okinawa drove on. The campaign saw Okinawa switch from driving on the right hand side of the road to the left hand side of the road. In the short TV advert he filmed he said something that translates as "People are right, cars are left". This can be seen below in the short video on the left.
10-After retirement Gushiken has become a popular contestant on Japanese quiz shows where he has a reputation for giving humorous, and incorrect answers. Strangely however he has shown an incredible knowledge for Japanese place names and local specialities.
Japanese boxing has many stars, and of the most well known is 4-weight world title holder Kazuto Ioka. The nephew of former 2-weight world champion Hiroki Ioka has been a star in Japan for years, he has been strongly backed by TV giant TBS and has regularly featured on their end of year broadcasts.
There's lots that is known about Ioka but here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kazuto Ioka
1-In junior high school Ioka first boxed out of the Green Tsuda gym, a gym that had trained his father and uncle. Despite training at Green Tsuda gym as an amateur Kazuto wouldn't actually fight out of it as a professional, instead he would actually leave to join the gym his uncle, Hiroki Ioka, had set up.
2-Although a very successful amateur on the Japanese domestic scene Ioka's international amateur success was limited with his most notable achievement being a bronze medal at the 2008 King's Cup, where he lost to Amnbat Ruenroeng in the semi-final.
3-After failing to make the Japanese team for the 2008 Olympics Ioka dropped out of university and decided to turn professional instead, debuting less than a month after his 20th birthday.
4-In his professional debut Ioka defeated Thongthailek Sor Tanapinyo in 3 rounds. At the time Thongthailek was the Thai Flyweight champion, having won the belt 2 months earlier. Interestingly Thongthailek's previous bout in Japan had seen him face off with future Ioka opponent Akira Yaegashi.
5-Ioka retired from boxing at the end of 2017, in fact he did so on December 31st live on Japanese TV channel TBS, following the end of year bouts that TBS had shown as part of their Kyokugen event. The retirement hadn't been a total shock, but his retirement notice had only been accepted by the JBC (Japanese Boxing Commission) 1 day earlier.
6-Outside of boxing Ioka has been married twice. His first marriage was to singer Nana Tanimura whilst the name of his second wife hasn't been widely reported, though she was revealed to have been a model in the past. With his second wife Ioka has a son, who was born on August 17th 2019.
7-As an amateur Ioka went 95-10 (64), one of his few losses on the Japanese scene came in the 2008 All Japan Championship finals to Taro Hayashida. Hayashida is notable for not only this win but also for giving Naoya Inoue one of his very few amateur losses.
8-Early in his career Ioka was referred to as "Golden Boy", taking the nickname of one of his favourite fighters, Oscar De La Hoya.
9-Ioka was dropped in his 4th professional bout by Indonesian foe Heri Amol. The knockdown came in the 9th round from an over-hand right with only seconds of the bell left. Although the shot that sent him down was clean as a whistle he didn't seemed hurt, looked clear headed when he got back to his feet and went on to win the following round.
10-In just his third bout he fought a former world title challenger. His opponent there was Takashi Kunishige, who had challenged Edgar Sosa just 18 months earlier. Ioka took a wide and clear 10 round decision over Kunishge who would remain a notable fighter on the Asian scene right through to his final bout in 2013. Following the loss to Ioka he would go on to lose decisions to Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Norihito Tanaka, Go Odaira, Denver Cuello and Ryuji Hara.
Extra fact - He's very good friends with Japanese musician AK69 and his bout against Aston Palicte saw AK69 do a live performance.
Following his win over Milan Melindo last Saturday Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) took a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Despite that win we feel he still needs 1, or maybe 2, more bouts on the fringes of world class to be fully prepared to face best in the division, so we though who better to feature in this week's regular "Five For..."
1-Noknoi Sitthiprasert (71-5, 44)
To prepare for a world title fight we think the best idea for Nakatani is to face someone who has fought for a world title, and proven their toughness. With that in mind we see Noknoi Sitthiprasert as a perfect candidate for Nakatani's next fight. The Thai veteran is no world beater, a long way from it in fact, but his bout with Kazuto Ioka in 2017 proved he was tough and could take punishment. Since losing to Ioka the Thai has reeled off 9 more wins, all against very limited opposition, and is sniffing around a big fight. Nakatani, in a world title eliminator, could well be that big fight.
2-Maximino Flores (25-4-1, 17)
With Nakatani edging towards a world title fight, a good idea would be to take on a top fighter from outside of Asia, getting a chance to face someone with a different style to what he has typically seen. With that in mind Mexican fighter Maximo Flores would be an idea candidate. He's the type of fighter who has shown a willingness to travel, is aggressive, and despite being flawed does have a desire to win. Last time out he travelled to the Philippines and defeated Carlo Caesar Penalosa and if you put him in with Nakatani it would be a great chance to see what Nakatani does under pressure.
3-Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12)
Passing of the torch fights are one of the key signs of a fighter moving from prospect to contender, and there may be no better option for Nakatani than facing fellow Japanese fighter Ryoichi Taguchi. The 32 year old Taguchi, like Melindo, is on the slide, but has recently gone 12 rounds in a world title fight with WBO champion Kosei Tanaka, he has the dimensions of a true Flyweight but lacks world class power and should be a safe option but yet a credible step in the right direction. For Taguchi it could be one final big fight, a loss would send him into retirement but a win would leave him in the world title mix.
4-McWilliams Arroyo (19-4, 14)
Staying with the idea that Nakatani should be knocking on the door of a world title fight with his next bout, there may be no better opponent than Puerto Rican fighter McWilliams Arroyo. The talented 33 year old Arroyo is a 2-time world title challenger and has a history against Japanese fighters, with 2 of his 4 losses coming to fighters from the Land of the Rising Sun. Arroyo is a known name in the west, and a win for Nakatani would give him an increase in western attention ahead of a world title bout. Arroyo is of no slouch, and his losses to the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng, Roman Gonzalez and Kazuto Ioka have shown he belongs at world level and he's tough. This would be a real test for Nakatani and is the perfect high risk type of opponent he needs to really see what he has.
5-Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar (14-1, 11)
If Nakatani does want a world title fight the obvious option appears to be a crack at the vacant WBC title against Mexican puncher Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar. The hard hitting Martinez is set to get a world title fight at the vacant WBC belt, a title that he would be holding had it not been for stupidity in August that lead to him hitting a downed Charlie Edwards. Martinez is an absolute monster at 112lbs, he's bull strong, a huge puncher and one of the few contenders who looks like he's actually coming into his peak. With recent wins over Martin Tecuapetla, Victor Ruiz and Andrew Selby he's in form a little wrecking ball. With the WBC title on the line this would be a fight with a high risk and high reward, and seems to be the bout Nakatani wants.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past weekend Kazakh fighter Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35) reclaimed a portion of the Middleweight crown as he narrowly outpointed Sergiy Derevyanchenko to become the new IBF Middleweight champion. The bout was supposed to be a mismatch for Golovkin, but the 37 year old was pushed all the way by the "Technician" and it now seems like time is running out for Golovkin and his career.
With that in mind we've decided to do a special mid-week "Five For..." for the hard hitting "GGG", along with our regular Friday "Five For...", which will look at options for Japanese Flyweight Junto Nakatani.
1 - Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10) II
The most obvious match up for Golovkin is to re-run this weekend's match and give Sergiy Derevyanchenko a rematch. The first bout was fantastic, competitive, and a back and forth war that saw both men digging deep. With that in mind a rematch next time out would be a very marketable bout, though one that may not be something that Golovkin will be rushing head first towards. Whilst the Kazakh does have big money on the table from DAZN Derevyanchenko brings very little to the table, and given how hard he pushed Golovkin the bout is a high risk low reward bout for "GGG", but one that fans may be demanding due to just how close their first contest was.
2 - Ryota Murata (15-2, 12)
For the last few years the Japanese press have been regularly pushing the narrative of Golovkin coming to Japan and fighting 2012 Olympic champion Ryota Murata. The bout has long been mooted as being something that could headline at the Tokyo Dome, something no Japanese fighter has ever done, and would be a big money spinner for both. Murata and his team have been rumoured to have the money to bankroll a Golovkin fight, and throwing the money into the kitty that DAZN would already have set aside for Golovkin would suggest this could be a huge money fight. There are issues with TV, both in Japan and the US, but those issues could be solved relatively easily and we have seen the promoters for the two men working together in recent months. The feeling we get is it's now or never to pull the trigger on this one.
3 - Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17)
If Golovkin is going to remain in the US, and the rematch with Derevyanchenko isn't going to happen then a possible alternative is a unification bout with WBO champion Demetrius Andrade. The unbeaten American is desperate for a big fight and Golovkin, although looking like a faded force, is still a big fight and remains one of the division's biggest names. For Golovkin it gives him a chance to unify 2 of the Middleweight titles, again, and try to secure one more big win. For Andrade it delivers the big fight he is said be craving and gives him a dance partner who will be looking to beat him. This isn't much a great match up stylistically, but it does tick boxes for both men and would be a compelling match up, even if it's not likely to be a great fight to watch.
4 - Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, 13)
Murata isn't the only fighter to have long been linked to Golovkin, but not yet managed to secure a fight with the Kazakh. Another fighter in a similar situation is English fighter Billy Joe Saunders, who has come close to facing GGG but the never has never ended up being done. Earlier this year Saunders attended an event in Kazakhstan calling for a fight in Golovkin's native country and it seems like that would be a bout that would make sense. Win or lose facing Saunders in Kazakhstan would give Golovkin a home coming bout, and a chance to fight in front of the Kazakh fans. If he's planning on fighting in Kazakhstan before calling it a day on his career this is the bout that makes the most sense, and would work, win or lose, as a great swansong for his career.
5 - Alfredo Angulo (26-7, 21)
A left of field suggestion would be a bout with the hard hitting Alfredo Angulo, who just put himself back on the map with an upset win over Peter Quillin. The reality is that this wouldn't be a big bout, but would see Golovkin going up against a fighter trained by his old trainer, Abel Sanchez. More importantly than that it would be the type of bout that we'd imagine Golvokin win would win with out too many problems, look good doing so and would let him retire on a high. This isn't the sort of bout that would really excite fans, but for a farewell bout, sold as such, this would an ideal way to close out his career next May.
Japanese boxing may not be known for it's "larger" fighters but 2012 Olympic champion Ryota Murata has managed to make a pretty notable impact on the Middleweight division, being a 2-time holder of the WBA "regular" title. Whilst his performance have blown hot and cold Murata is huge in Japan, so with that in mind let's look at 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Ryota Murata
1-Like many boxers Murata has his own favourites, naming Shinsuke Yamanaka and Felix "Tito" Trinidad as his favourites.
2-Murata is the youngest of 3 brothers. His parents divorced when he was in elementary school, though continued to live together at the time.
3-Surprisingly Murata is the only Japanese boxer to have won medals at both the World Amateur championships, taking silver in 2011, and the Olympics, taking a gold in 2012.
4-Murata's professional career began in a rather unique way. Not only did he debut against the then unified Japanese and OPBF champion but he did so as a Top Rank and Teiken promoted fighter fighting out of the Misako gym stable. His official designation with Teiken was that he was Teiken affiliated, essentially they were his match makers whilst Misako were his gym.
5-According to a book Murata wrote, "101%のプライド (which translates as "101% of pride"), he was told be doctors that his skull is "1.5 times thicker" than the average persons, with this coming up in a CT scan. This is similar, in some ways, to the 1996 episode of the Simpsons "The Homer They Fall" where Homer is seen to have more fluid around his brain than normal people.
6-May is a very important month for Murata. He was married in May 2010, his oldest son was born in May 2011 and his oldest daughter was born in May 2014.
7-For a number of bouts, including his recent rematch with Rob Brant, Murata has used "He's a Pirate" from the "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" as his ring walk music. This was due in part to his old teachers from high school.
8-Murata has blood type AB, which in Japan blood theory would make him an eccentric. The traits associated with the blood type include composure, being charming, diplomatic, controlled, rational, a dream chaser, popular and adaptable.
9-Murata's pro-test bout saw him share the ring with former Japanese Middleweight champion Sanosuke Sasaki on April 16th 2013, at the Korakuen Hall, and was aired live in Japan on Fuji TV. Notably this was on the same show as Naoya Inoue's third professional bout, which came against Yuki Sano.
10-Murata and Inoue would also share a broadcast on August 25th as well, when Fuji aired both Inoue's bout with Japanese Light Flyweigth champion Ryoichi Taguchi and Murata's debut with Akio Shibata. Interestingly these two bouts took place on different shows in different cities.
This past Tuesday we saw WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] retain his titles with a thrilling 12 round decision win over Tetsuya Hisada. Following the win Kyoguchi stated that he would be taking the rest of the year away from the ring to rest, whilst visibly sporting a swollen shut left eye. The bout was supposed to be an easy one for the champion, but it was certainly not a walk in the park for the Watanabe gym fighter.
With a rest now booked, it's clear we won't see Kyoguchi rushing back to the ring any day soon, however when he does return there are a lot of options out there for him, with the Light Flyweight division being one of the very best in the sport. Here we're going to look at 5 potential bouts we could see Kyoguchi in when he returns in 2020.
1-Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17)
On paper the most logical match up we could hope for would see the WBA"super" title being unified with the "regular" title. To do that Kyoguchi would need to take on unbeaten Venezuelan Carlos Canizales, in a real divisional dream bout. The Canizales has shown a willingness to travel, twice fighting in Japan and also fighting in China, and seems to put in his best performances whilst in Asia. Stylistically these two should should gel perfectly, and they would beat really hammer each other with hard shots through 12 rounds. From a fans perspective this could be a contender for Fight of the Year, from a logical point of view it makes sense and from the fighter's view it clears up the WBA mess. The only issue is that neither man would likely walk out of this the same fighter they were previous. This could be a career shortening bout for both.
2-Kenshiro (16-0, 9)
Whilst a bout with Canizales makes a lot of sense, there is a good argument that it's not actually the best we could make at the weight involving Kyoguchi. Instead that is an all-Japanese showdown with WBC champion Kenshiro. This bout had been mooted for the end of 2019, though now clearly will have to be pushed back. Two Japanese fighters are good friends, were rivals in the amateurs and are widely regarded as the #1 and #2 in the division, with a bout between them giving clarity over who is the best at Light Flyweight. It would also be a super rare all-Japanese unification bout. The main stumbling block for this one is the fact the two men are linked to different TV networks, with Kenshiro being one of the faces of Fuji TV and Kyoguchi being a TBS fighter.
3-Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30)
Another unification bout that would be highly anticipated would be a clash with IBF champion Felix Alvarado, arguably the most dangerous man in the division. Alvarado is a Nicaraguan puncher who although being crude is incredibly dangerous. He's heavy handed, has an incredible gas tank, is physically terrifying and teak tough. Although Alvarado can be out boxed, out thought, out sped and out manoeuvred he's never going to be an easy out for anyone with his incessant aggression. One type of fighter no one likes to face is the high risk, low reward fighter, but that is exactly what Alvarado is. Yes he has the IBF title, but the risk still out weighs the reward, that's how dangerous he is. From a fans perspective however a Kyoguchi Vs Alvarado fight would be tremendous.
4-Angel Acosta (20-2, 20)
Another of the division's many danger men is Angel Acosta, who has also been willing to travel for fights as seen in his losses, which have both come on the road. Acosta is heavy handed, aggressive, but also skilled and isn't a brawler like many fighters with power, instead he's a really good boxer-puncher with genuine power and he's also durable. He lost the WBO title earlier this year, with a very suspect stoppage loss, and his only other loss came in Japan to Kosei Tanaka. A return to Japan could see him pick up a win in the "Land of the Rising Sun" and would give him a chance to become a 2-time champion. Likewise having Acosta's name on Kyoguchi's resume would do his standing the world of good. A really interesting fight and one that would deserve a lot of attention on both sides of the Pacific.
5-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
Whilst it's easy to think that unifying with the WBO champion would be a priority we suspect that the WBO title scene will be out of reach for a while. If that's the case then there's no reason why Kyoguchi can't take part in a fan friendly bout against a fighter who should make for a fun, low level, action bout. Ideal for that is compatriot Reiya Konishi, who is aggressive, exciting, throws a lot and will engage in an inside war of attrition, and will do so without having big 1-punch power. On paper this isn't one of the "big bouts" that Kyoguchi would be wanting on his return, but would be a very fun to watch bout, against a rugged, though limited, challenger. A win here would be expected, but would give him an instant comparison to Alvarado and Canizales, both of whom took a decision over Konishi.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).