Although action in Japan kicked off last weekend the fans in the country got their first televised action of the year earlier today, and we got the first OPBF title fight of 2017 as the headline bout of that card. That title bout saw Japanese Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (16-1, 8) [藤本 京太郎] take on Australian champion Willie Nasio (10-2, 9) on a show televised by G+. For Kyotaro it was a second shot at an Oriental title, following a loss several years ago to Solomon Haumono for the very same title. For Nasio the bout was his first outside of Australia and his first beyond Australian domestic level.
Going in to the bout the general view was that it would be Nasio's power against Kyotaro's speed. That generally proved to be right, though it's fair to saw that Nasio was slower than anyone had expected and due to how slow he was he actually couldn't make the most of his power.
The first round was a close one, with both men trying to get a read on the other. It was the type of round that could have gone to either man, but didn't really tell us much about the fight. In round 2 however the pace of the bout changed as Nasio went after Fujimoto and tagged the Japanese fighter clean several times, before being tagged himself by a perfect right hand counter. That right hand dropped Nasio, and seemed to leave him wary through out the rest of the right.
With Nasio being wary of Fujimoto's under-rated power he seemed happy to just follow the Japanese fighter around the ring, and not give the Japanese fighter too many openings for counters. That instead left Kyotaro to pick and poke with jabs which were his key weapon through much of the bout. Nasio had his moments, and when he landed he did seem to scare Kyotaro, but lacked consistency and the energy to follow up after landing.
After 4 rounds the open scoring favoured Kyotaro, with the judges having the bout 39-36 and 38-37, twice. There was little to argue with those cards given how close the first round was, the 10-8 in round 2 to Kyotaro and the fact the local seemed to win round 3 whilst the visitor took round 4.
One of the best rounds was round 5, a competitive round that saw Nasio show some fire and put Kyotaro under some pressure. It was a round that the visitor seemed to win, but he was forced to take some nasty shots, and his effort certainly cost him in the following round. In fact round 6 was one of the most one sided rounds of the fight with Kyotaro frequently landing power shots to the head of Nasio, who ate a series of big right hands early in the round, and was rocked again later in the round as Kyotaro took a dominant round. The success of the local fighter continued in rounds 7 and 8, with Nasio being doubled over from a body shot in round 8 before gritting his teeth and putting Kyotaro on to the back foot last in round 8.
After 8 rounds the open scoring was again announced and had Kyotaro in a comfortable lead with cards of 77-74 and 78-73. Although comfortable the bout wasn't a foregone conclusion, especially given Nasio's power, and Kyotaro knew he couldn't let Aussie take the final 4 rounds.
Kyotaro continued to use his speed in round 9 and again seemed to always be a step ahead of the visitor for the round, despite being forced to take a big body shot. The jab of Kyotaro again proved to be a key weapon in keeping Nasio at bay. The Aussie picked up the pace in round 10, one his best rounds, and it seemed like it was time to go for it, but despite some really good moments, he couldn't ever follow up an attack before Kyotaro had gotten away. Nasio's hopes took another battering in round 11, with the Australia landing next to nothing of note whilst Kyotaro landed jabs, straights and hooks during a dominant round that essentially secured him the win as long as he stayed up right.
Nasio finally tried to turn things around in the final round, one of his best rounds, but he again always seemed to be too slow and too cumbersome to ever catch up with the more nimble Japanese fighter who got to the final bell.
Having heard the final bell there was no doubting the winner with Kyotaro getting the win with scores of 118-109, 116-112 and 116-111. He had out boxed the slower, clumsier man but we couldn't help thinking that had Nasio come in in shape he could well have beaten Fujimoto with relative ease. The Aussie looked like he had 20lbs to lose, had was incredibly slow, lacked any energy in his work and showed no real urgency. He only has himself to blame.
For Kyotaro the bout should put him back in the world rankings, though he is nowhere near ready for a world title fight. In saying that he did secure a place in history as the first Japanese national to win the OPBF Heavyweight title, and he should be proud of that.
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