We've heard of the past day or two that Japanese unbeaten Ryuji Hara (16-0, 10), pictured, will be making his next move towards a world title as he battles Filipino veteran Donny Mabao (21-20-1, 4) for the vacant OPBF Minimumweight.
Although on paper the bout appears to be a mismatch with the unbeaten Hara clear being the betting favourite the contest actually is a lot more interesting than the paper numbers would suggest.
For a start Hara, a former Japanese national champion, has been lucky in a number of recent bouts. He was pushed amazingly close in all 4 of his Japanese title fights and could very well have lost any of them. He's still unbeaten but his "0" is certainly living close to the edge. He looked sensational for his first 12 bouts, going 12-0 (10) though since then has seen serious question marks arise about his power and durability.
In Mabao we have a fighter with an undeniably ugly record. Winning only 50% of 42 bouts and having a sub 10% KO record isn't great. Though what he does have right now, is confidence. Mabao comes in to this bout on a 4 fight winning run which has seen hi defeat both Mateo Handig, best known for upsetting Katsunari Takayama, and former IBF world champion Florante Condes.
One of the reasons for Mabao's awful looking record is the fact he's been matched hard. He's shared the ring, not just with Condes, but also Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Paipharob Kokietgym, Merlito Sabillo, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and Ryo Miyazaki who have all held some form of a world title. More impressively is the fact he's taken many of those men the distance.
On paper this is a mismatch, though in reality this is a really good looking bout that should see Hara, a stablemate of Naoya Inoue, given his sternest test so far.
Interestingly the OPBF Minimumweight title was last held by Merlito Sabillo, the current WBO Minimumweight champion, and it has been a title that has regularly been used as a stepping stone towards a world title. Not only has it been held by Sabillo but also Akira Yaegashi, Rodel Mayol, Nico Thomas, Hi-Yong Choi and Samuth Sithnaruepol an impressive array of world champion.
Note-Thomas actually won his IBF world title before winning an OPBF title, the other men all won the OPBF title first
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