Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see an OPBF Light Welterweight bout between local favourite Shinya Iwabuchi (26-6, 22) [岩渕 真也] and Filipino visitor Al Rivera (15-2, 13).
On paper the bout looked like an explosive, exciting and competitive bout, in the ring however the bout was the total opposite and ended up looking like a total mismatch.
Rivera looked strong, determined and aggressive from the off, taking the fight to Iwabuchi, who was made to look small by comparison. The Japanese fighter tried to fight back and kept himself alive in the opening couple of rounds but seemed like he's need to change tactic if he was to over-come the Filipino, and claim an OPBF title on the third time of asking.
Things went from bad to worse for Iwabuchi who was dropped twice in round 4 as Rivera looked for the early finish. To his credit Iwabuchi hung in tough, but looked like a man who was going to need to do something very special to do more than just survive.
After 4 rounds the cards were all in favour of Rivera, with scores of 40-34, twice, and 39-35, with one judge some how finding a round to give to Iwabuchi.
Iwabuchi did manage to have some success in the rounds that followed as the Filipino slowed down slightly, but that success was very limited and in round 7 the gutsy Iwabuchi was finally stopped.
Sadly for Iwabuchi this is the third time he has come up short in an OPBF title bout, having previously lost to Min Wook Kim, back in 2013, and to Keita Obara in 2014. This however was the most humiliating of those loses as Rivera simply battered him. It seems that whilst Rivera was excellent Iwabuchi's hard career of wars has caught up to him and the 30 year old should perhaps consider retirement. For Rivera however this win was a second successive upset, following a win late last year over a then unbeaten Adones Cabalquinto, and really helps put him on the map in many ways.
With the win Rivera does become a target for fighters like Chalermpol Sinwancha [เฉลิมพล สิงห์วังชา] and Hiroki Okada [岡田 博喜] though given this performance he woild likely fancy his chances against either man.
For those interested in watching this, it will be aired on tape delay this coming Saturday.
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