Japan is on the verge of a brilliant era in it's boxing history. In fact we may well be part of the Golden Era of Japanese boxing. At the moment the country has a number of world champions, including several young champions like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. The country also has some devastating prospects who are rising through the ranks at an impressive pace.
One of those prospects is Japanese Bantamweight champion Shohei Omori (15-0, 10) who successfully defended his title earlier today and destroyed former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (11-4-2, 1), in a dominant, if some what sloppy, affair.
Omori, who claimed the title earlier this year with a sensational victory over Kentaro Masuda, was the big favourite. He was the man on the up, the man showing signs of real potential and the man who, in many ways, looked to be part of the new age of Japanese boxing. He was however promise a good fight from Mukai who had been very confident in the build up and had mixed at a high level, in fact he had fought in 2-world title fights and had looked in good form last time out, easily defeating former world title challenger Konosuke Tomiyama.
Although less experienced, and much younger, Omori took control from the off and seemed to be too big, too quick and too powerful for Mukai who was looking out of his depth as early as the second round. Mukai, to his credit, tried to call on his higher level of experience but he had no real answer to Omori who dropped him at the end of round 3 with a knockdown that seemed to be the start of the end for challenger who was down again in round 4, from a spiteful body shot.
Having entered round 5 in a dominant position Omori seemed to show some of his immaturity as his work became sloppier and he almost seemed to let Mukai off the hook despite knowing that he had his man hurt. Despite not finishing his man when he was hurt Omori was in a commanding position with the score cards reading 50-43, 50-44 and 49-44 all in favour of the champion at the end of round 5.
In round 6 Omori got back to doing what he had done and quickly hurt his man with the referee needing to save Mukai after just 97 seconds of the round. It was again the power and speed of Omori that got to the challenger who really couldn't cope.
For Mukai this is a a 4th set back in a title bout and some may suspect that he will never live up to the early promise he showed, which actually included a win over Sonny Boy Jaro. His lack of power and his inability to keep fighters honest was shown again here and although Omori was sloppy it did seem like a case of knowing his opponent couldn't punish him for it.
As for Omori the intention seems to be to target world titles, but not immediately with the fighter wanting one more domestic defense first. On this performance there would be no guarantee he'd be able to beat any of the current title holders. There is however the feeling that he knew he could get away with things against Mukai that he simply wouldn't do against a better level of opponent. If that's the case, and his team believe it, then they will likely push for a 2016 showdown with WBO champion Pungluang Sor Singyu, however with Omori wanting another domestic fight first we're unlikely to see him competing at world level until summer next year, at the earliest.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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