Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw a new OPBF Flyweight champion being crowned as little known Japanese fighter Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-1, 4) [中山 佳祐] took a split decision upset win against former world title challenger Richard Claveras (17-3-2, 14).
The bout started tactically with Nakayama using his footwork to try and neutralise the heavy hands of the Filipino visitor, knowing that Claveras is a raw puncher. Not only did Nakayama show nice movement but he stuck to a game plan, landing counters early in an attempt to dissuade Claveras from throwing too much heavy leather in the early going, when he's typically the most dangerous.
The tactics of Nakayama had mixed success with the judges. One thought it was perfect, scoring the first 4 rounds all in his favour, one was unimpressed, giving him only round 2, whilst the third judge seemed to cool on the idea, giving him rounds 1 and 2. The tactic was a smart one, even if it wasn't to the judges liking, as it helped to see off the early storm of Claveras'.
The middle portion of the bout saw Claveras begin to have more success, as he upped the pressure. Sadly however the Filipino was punished for his successes with Nakayama landing some solid counters and fighting well off the back foot, particularly in round 7 where all 3 judges agreed for one of the very few times in the fight. #that success of Nakayama saw him move to the lead on two cards, with scores of 78-74 in his favour, and be level on the other, at 76-76.
Knowing he was behind at the start of round 9 Claveras came out to make a statement and clearly won the final part of the fight, with all 3 judges giving him round 9 and two judges giving him rounds 10 and 12, but in the end he simply had too much to do too late in the bout. He had eked out a win on one card, 115-113, but that had been over-ruled by scores of 115-113 and 116-112 to Nakayama who had earned the split decision and the biggest win of his career, by far.
For Nakayama the win is a career best and sees him claiming his first professional title, which he will have to defend against some stiff competition in the near future if he's not going to vacate it. It's the type of win which could help boost his career massively, or could be just a freak result in a career that could be a flash in the pan if he's not careful. As for Claveras, he seemed to feel a little annoyed at the scoring, suggesting he felt it was a draw, and stated that he was wanting a rematch with the new champion.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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