Earlier today we saw Thailand's talented Knockout CP Freshmart (15-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] record his second defence of the WBA Minimumweight title as he scored a 5th round KO win over over-matched Japanese challenger Go Odaira (13-5-3, 1) [大平 剛], who suffered his third stoppage loss at world level.
The bout saw Odaira begin by using his movement, using his speed to to try and neutralise the pressure of Knockout, who was pressing from the very early stages. It turned out not to be the best tactic with Knockout landing almost all the blows of note during the round. The lack of success from Odaira forced a tactical change from the challenger who decided to stand his ground more in round 2 and had some success, particularly from his straight left hand, though he left himself in Knockout's wheel yard and the Thai dominated much of the round.
Odaira tried to turn pure counter puncher in round 3 but was again unable to have the success of the Thai who found a way to hammer home heavy shots, particularly to the body and he seemed to hurt Odaira late in the round. It appeared as if Knockout knew he had hurt Odaira as he started the 4th round fast and despite a spirited fight back from the challenger it wasn't long until Odaira was down, suffering his first knockdown of the fight.
Knockout managed to see out the remaining time in round 4 but Knockout had his man worked out and sensed a stoppage was close. It was stoppage that would come not long into round 5 as Knockout went hunting and dropped Odaira with a beautiful 3 punch combination. This time Odaira would stay down.
With the win for Knockout we've now seen Japanese fighters go 0-22-1 in world title fights on Thai soil and it's almost certainly going to be the end of Odaira's world title dreams. The performance from Knockout was a solid one but with a number of rising fighters at 105lbs it may now be that he has to face some of the more testing contenders, rather than the likes of Odaira and Shin Ono, who he defended the title against late last year.
This week is a good one for Asian boxing fans with the Orient playing host to a trio of world title fights. They began earlier today with a WBC Minimweight title fighter between unbeaten champion Wanheng Menayothin [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Japanese challenger Go Odaira [大平 剛]. The bout, a relatively low key world title bout for those outside of the East was Odaira's second shot at a world title and was Wanheng's fourth defense of the title that he won in late 2014, when he stopped Oswaldo Novoa.
On paper it was a mismatch, with the champion boasting an impressive 40-0 (15) record coming in to the bout against Odaira's 12-4-3 (1) record however Odaira's team been planning for this challenge for several months and seemed confident of scoring the shock win.
The preparation of the challenger was obvious in the first round as the visitor fought to orders, using a lot of movement to try and get in and out. The output from the challenger was relatively low compared to the division's usual high intensity, but it was significantly more than we saw from Wanheng who applied very conservative pressure. Although Wanheng was very limited with his output the locals cheered every shot and he did land the best punch of the round, a straight right hand late on. It wasn't enough to steal the round, but it was clear that the power and physical strength both lay with the champion.
The second round was much like the first, with Wanheng doing very little other than applying intense and educated pressure on to the Japanese challenger. Odaira was the man letting his hands go, in short bursts, and then trying to get away. It was intelligent from Odaira but as the round came to a close you could almost see Wanheng shifting up a gear, which is exactly what he did in round 3.
Odaira's early success was essentially wiped out in round 3 as Wanheng went on to the offensive and a sweeping right hand caught the challenger, who was dropped. Odaira got up from the knockdown but it seemed to further spur on the champion who could almost smell a win. Wanheng continued to bully the challenger, who did well with his movement to see out the storm without taking too much punishment.
By round things weren't looking good at all for Odaira who simply couldn't create the distance he needed and was on the receiving end of more solid shots. The only thing really keeping Odaira fight was his movement, which was helping him get off the ropes, but his output was dropping and he was forced to taste the under-rated power of Wanheng, who almost scored a second knockdown late in the round, rocking the challenger with a right hand.
Although we had given Odaira the first 2 rounds the judges disagreed, and when the open scoring was shown after 4 rounds the judges all had Wanheng in a comfortable lead, with scores of 40-35, 39-36 and 39-36, again.
Odaira's discomfort from round 4 was made worse in round 5 as his counter shots simply bounced off Wanheng who was in seek and destroy mode. It didn't take long for Wanheng to corner his foe, and this time Odaira's fancy footwork wasn't able to come to his help, instead he was forced to take a series of hard right hands. Those shots bent him over and seemed to have him read to go before a final shot, albeit to the back of his head, sent him down. Immediately the referee waved the bout off.
Although the finishing blow was a foul it did seem like one caused by Odaira bending over and the Japanese fighter didn't complain about the stoppage, instead he congratulated the champion, now 41-0 (16), who looks set to defend against Saul Juarez in the summer.
For the challenger, now 12-5-3 (1) this was a second loss in a world tile fight and it seems unlikely he'll get another given he's 31 and has 2 stoppage losses in his last 3 bouts.
For the second day running we saw a small slice of history being created. Yesterday we saw Naoya Inoue becoming the quickest man to become a 2-weight world champion, setting a world record in his 8th fight when he stopped Omar Andres Narvaez in 2 rounds. Today the history was merely a bit of national history for Japanese fighters as Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) became the first ever Japanese fighter to win a version of all 4 major world titles.
Takayama did that earlier today by stopping light hitting compatriot Go Odaira (11-4-3, 1) in the 7th round of their meeting and claimed the IBF Minimumweight title, for a second time, as well as the elusive WBO Minimumweight crown, the one title he had never had in his illustrious career.
On paper the bout promised excitement. Both men are volume punchers usually, both like to let their hands go and both are as reliant on their speed and movement as any other tool in their arsenal. As well as that there had been only a single stoppage defeat between the two men, and that was a more than 11 years ago when an immature Takayama was caught in the 9th round against Masato Hatakeyama in what was Takayama's first title bout. It seemed to go 12 on paper, but of course fights aren't fought on paper and when history is there for the taking sometimes a fighter can find something else in themselves.
The fight started well with both managing to find their range and timing, neither showed great fear of the other's power but neither felt like taking too many risks. It was busy without being brutal, fast without being rushed and in fact Odaira managed to more than hold his own early on with round 4 being a particularly good one for the relatively unknown fighter. Unfortunately as we hit the middle of the bout things began to change and Takayama's shots began to take their toll with Odaira being forced to take body shots, the like of which he had never tasted.
The body shots began to slow Odaira in round 5 and, as we all know, when a fighter is feeling the effects of body shots they can slow quickly and in round 6 it all seemed to unravel for Odaira who suddenly looked like a tiring man, despite still managing to do enough to fight back. Unfortunately for the Hanagata promoted fighter this was the beginning of the end and in round 7 Takayama got his chance and took it, with the finish coming in the a typical Takayama fashion with the “Lightning Kid” unloading shot after shot after shot in a furious bombardment of leather. The shots themselves had a lack of pop but the sheer volume of them was insane and Odaira's exhaustion was showing as the referee was forced to save Odaira who was being swallowed whole by a whirlwind of punches.
Whilst the win for Takayama was historic it also sees him achieving one of his two public aims. It seems him claiming all 4 titles in a career grandslam, the other aim he has spoken about is to become a multi-weight world champion and a move to 108lbs seems likely. Hopefully however he will look to defend his unified crown, possibly against talented teenage sensation Kosei Tanaka who is himself chasing Japanese boxing history as he chases the quickest rise to a world title.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.