Earlier today saw the OPBF posting their updated rankings for the end of April. The OPBF, which is short for the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation is seen as the go to title for many in Asia and is often seen, like the EBU title in Europe, as the big stepping stone between domestic level and world level.
This months rankings has seen some notable changes with new fighters being ranked, new champions being crowned and a shake of the positions in a number of divisions.
In the Minimumweight we had a new champion crowned as Ryuji Hara (previously #1) defeated Donny Mabao (previously #2) on March 30, just after the March rankings had been published. For Hara this was a tough day at the office though it saw him taking his step from domestic to regional champion.
The fact the top 2 fighters battles each other gave the division a nice big shake up Japanese champion Go Odaira now the #1 contender and Kosei Tanaka (#2) breathing down the neck of the champion.
The 108lb Light Flyweight division saw very little movement with Randy Petalcorin (#7) swapping places Kenichi Horikawa (#8) being the only change in the top 15.
An interesting division this month is the flyweight division which has seen Takuya Kogawa (#4) re-enter the rankings ahead of Kwanpichit 13 Rien Express (#5) who had himself climbed over Jung Oh Son (#6). It seems likely we may see some action in and around the top 5 over the next few months with this type of change.
The rankings at Flyweight have also welcomed in Michael Dasmarinas (#13) following his win in late March over Zoren Pama.
In the Super Flyweight division the big change has been that of Yohei Tobe (#2) who has climbed over Marco Demecillo (#3) following Tobe's Japanese title success. The only other changes have been a result or Rey Perez (#15) dropping from #9 though in all honesty he shouldn't be ranked at 115lbs considering his last fight there was more than 2 years ago.
Kentaro Masuda (#2) has established himself as one of the top Bantamweight contenders following his victory, in a Japanese title fight, over Yu Kawaguchi (#7). Prior to this month Masuda was ranked #15 and this was clearly the major change at 118lbs which has also seen Konosuke Tomiyama (#5) burst back in to the rankings.
We'll admit we're assuming that current OPBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa will vacate his title before the next mandatory is due, in December, so a fight between Masuda and Monico Laurente (#1) would certainly be possibility.
In mid April it was announced that Shingo Wake, the defending Super Bantamweight champion, would be making the next defence of his title against Jae-Sung Lee (#1) this has of course left everyone else scrapping for the next title opportunity. This has caused a few small changes in the rankings. Notably Albert Pagara (#4) has climbed over the top of his Filipino compatriot Genesis Servania (#5) whilst former champion Roli Gasca (#7) has climbed over Rikiya Fukuhara (#8). The only new entrant is China's very promising Qiu Xiao Jun (#13) who claimed his place courtesy of a victory over rival Johnathan Baat.
The division with the biggest shake up this month has certainly been the Featherweight division. Joel Brunker (#1) hs remained where he was but pretty much everyone else has been shuffled around with some of the rankings not really making a lot of sense. For example Yuki Ogata (#10) has dropped from the #2 rankings following his loss to Satoshi Hosono who is some how unranked whilst Vinvin Rufino (#4), who was stopped in 8 by defending champion Hisashi Amagasa last month, has shot up from #7. Very strange month here.
At Super Featherweight Rikki Naito (#1) has become the top contender following Ryan Sermona's (#8) loss to Shingo Eto (#3). There has again been wide scale changes here though most of them do make sense. Although the division makes sense we do wonder why Daiki Kaneko hasn't got a ranking.
Thankfully the Super Featherweight will see it's champion Jomthong Chuwatana defend his belt on July 12th against Koseki Nakama (#7) who has moved up one place.
In the popular Lightweight division Yoshitaka Kato (#4) has climbed over Ji-Hoon Kim (#5) and Brett William Smith (#6) as Kato has started a climb back towards the title he lost earlier this year. One of the biggest drops was that of Valentine Borg (#10) who dropped from #8, interestingly Joebert Delos Reyes wasn't rewarded for his stunning upset over Borg from March 28th.
As for the champion, Masayoshi Nakatani will be defending his belt next Wednesday against Harada Mondo (#7).
Another division that saw another champion crowned was the 140lb Light Welterweight division which saw Keita Obara claiming the title with an excellent victory over Jay Solmiano (#7). Whilst Obara's victory was a key one for him it has reshuffled the division to leave Korea's Ja Ik Goo (#1) as the top contender with Hiroki Okada (#2) and Shinya Iwabuchi (#3) both highly ranked and fights with Obara against any of that trio would see fireworks.
With Welterweight champion Yoshihiro Kamegai now booked to fight Robert Guerrero in the US we know he won't be defending for a while but there is no mandatory due until next year. The Top 4 haven't changed but with Kamegai having recently beaten Jung Hoon Yang (#10) it's no wonder the Korean has fallen numerous places from #5. Czar Amonsot (#5) has filled in with fighters in the lower half of the top 13 all shuffling around as a result.
The only change in the championless Light Middleweight division has seen Beau O'Brien (#4) stop with Michael Zerafa (#5). We'll admit we're not experts in the Australian boxing scene but it's very difficult to understand what O'Brien has done for such a lofty ranking.
With Akio Shibata announcing his next defence of the OPBF Middleweight title would be coming in July against Hikaru Nishida (#8) it may be little surprise to hear that no one in the top 10 has changed places at all. Below the top 10 there has been some changes with Eun-Chang Lee (#13) bursting in to the rankings despite his last fight being fought at Super Middleweight.
The somewhat weak Super Middleweight division hasn't seen any changes at all in the rankings.
The only change in the Light Heavyweight division has seen Dane Muliva (#7) enter the rankings.
One of the biggest shocks this month was in the Cruiserweight division where David Aloua stopped Brad Pitt (#3) to claim the title. The victory for Aloua allowed Daniel Ammann (#2) to climb a place whilst Anthony McCracken (#4) climbed over Lawrence Tauasa (#5).
The Heavyweight rankings have seen Lucas Browne (#1) climb up a place to being the top contender to Solomon Haumono. In other changes we've Alex Leapai (#4) dropping whilst Kyotaro Fujimoto (#2) has moved up a place.
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