The OPBF title has been the stepping stone between fighters at continental level and world level. They have long been titles that fighters have won on their way to the top and as chance for fighters to prove themselves as being beyond domestic level, and on their way to becoming world class. Modern day fighters like Manny Pacquiao (Flyweight), Takashi Uchiyama's (Super Featherweight) [内山 高志] and Naoya Inoue (Light Flyweight) [井上 尚弥] have all claimed the OPBF title before going on to win world titles.
It's with that in mind that we're rather disappointed to learn that the OPBF will be have a growth in "interim" title fights, devaluing one of the best stepping stone titles in the sport of boxing. That growth seems to have really blown up recently with Naris Highland announcing an OPBF interim title triple header, set for April 1st.
The highest weight being covered by the triple header is Super Featherweight where Carlo Magali (19-7-3, 10) faces Mark Gil Melligen (21-6-1, 12). The issues with this fight are numerous. Firstly the champion will actually be defending the "regular" title later in April, so he need for an interim is questionable, secondly Melligen was beaten in his last 2 fights, so he's hardly a worth contender for an OPBF belt as it is. Magali is a legitimate contender at this level, though it's disappointing that he has been inactive in recent years. It's also worth noting that this will be Magali's first bout since his tragic contest with David Browne Jr.
At Bantamweight we suspect we suspect we're in for a treat as the heavy handed Rey Megrino (22-20-3, 19), who has recently been training with Rex Tso, battles Jonathan Baat (30-7-4, 14). Whilst neither of these two have the greatest of records both are proven fighters with an upsetters mentality. Megrino's record suggests that he's far from special but the 29 year old is on a 7 fight winning streak over the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Myung Ho Lee and Ernesto Saulong, and has done well to turn his career around after being 15-19-3 around 4 years ago. On the other hand Baat holds a couple of wins over Qiu Xiao Jun, a big upset over Kenta Onjo and held Hikaru Marugame to a draw late last year.
Megrino Vs Baat is a genuinely fantastic match up, but the need for an interim title to be attached to the bout is ridiculous given that the "regular" champion will, again, be defending his title in April.
The third of the bouts is, sadly, the most questionable as Rene Dacquel (16-6-1, 5) faces unbeaten Thai Lucky Tor Buamas (7-0, 7) for the "interim" OPBF Super Flyweight title. On paper this one looks fine but Dacquel has lost 2 recent bouts, including an OPBF title bout to Takuma Inoue. Although Dacquel is a capable fighter there is little need for him to be fighting in an OPBF title fight given that he was widely beaten by Inoue in December. On the other hand the unbeaten Lucky has beaten no one of note, and by that we really mean, no one of any note. It's also worth noting that Inoue is expected to defend the title in April or May anyway.
Whilst we would have loved to have gotten behind the announcement in regards to the title triple header the reality is the announcement devalues the OPBF title and follows in the footsteps of the WBA "world" titles, where the "Super", "Regular" and "interim" titles all made a mockery of things.
It should be noted that we have no issue with interim titles in principle. If a fighter is injured then the "interim" title is fair enough, but this announcement comes whilst the real champions have bouts lined up, and follows the the recent created situation at Welterweight, where Suyon Takayama [高山 樹延] claimed the interim title just weeks before Jack Brubaker defended the "regular" title. If the OPBF continue down this slope it's a slippery one that could lead to them quickly losing their significance as a genuine stepping stone title.
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