The general rule of thumb for top Japanese amateurs is that they get given a baptism of fire. There is seemingly no reason to hold back a talented fighter and if they lose on debut so be it, they have time to rebuild. The mentality may seem very odd in the west where an unbeaten record is often a key marketing tool but in Japan it's not just about the "0" in your record but who you've beaten along the way. There is, after all, little point in beating total scrubs when you can actually test yourself and push yourself against good fighters.
Sometimes however the tough test on can back fire and a highly touted fighter can find themselves thrown in too deep. That was the case for Keita Obara when he debuted against 32 fight veteran Kazuyoshi Kumano, a former Rookie of the Year who had pushed Yoshitaka Kato very close just 14 months earlier.
In the opening round things went perfectly for Obara who dropped Kumano. That was his notable moment of success as Kumano got up and proceeded to rush, bully, battle and generally rough up the debutant who often looked uncoordinated due to the relentless pressure of Kumano.
Eventually the pressure took full effect and Obara had to fight fire with fire. Unfortunately for him that saw him leaving himself open and being dropped. An assault soon afterwards saw the referee force to save Obara.
Since this loss Obara has been great. He's claimed the Japanese and OPBF Light Welterweight titles and won 11 in a row to become a force to be reckoned with. As for Kusano he fought 5 more times losing 3 and winning 2, before retiring to set up his own gym.
Rather interestingly Obara won the vacant OPBF 140lb title in April 2014, prior to him the champion had been Min Wook Kim who had also lost his debut, to Taek Min Kim, by 5th round stoppage, just as Obara did here.
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