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.