In October 2014 fans had a genuine treat as Kosei Tanaka challenged Ryuji Hara for the OPBF Minimumweight title. The bout was as good as it got with technique, heart, guts, excitement, competitive action and brilliant back and forth all as an incredibly high pace that made the bout look like it was being fought in double speed. Since then however the OPBF title at 105lbs has seemingly been forgotten about whilst Tanaka himself has moved into world level, claiming the WBO title with a decision victory against Julian Yedras and Hara has began to rebuild his career.
Now we have been informed that a new champion will be crowned in September as former WBC champion Xiong Chao Zhong* (25-6-1, 14) battles Filipino work horse Crison Omayao (17-9-3, 5) in Ningbo on September 18th.
Zhong is best known for his short lived reign as a world champion which saw him become the first Chinese man to hold a world title. The diminutive and bull like fighter from Kunming in 2012 when he beat Javier Martinez Resendiz and made 2 defenses of the belt before being shocked by little known Mexico Oswaldo Novoa in 2014. Since the loss of his title Zhong has gone 3-1, with his sole loss being a decision to WBA champion Hekkie Budler, as he's began to rebuild his career,
Whilst Zhong may not be an elite level Minimumweight he has share the ring with some notable fighters such as Daisuke Naito, Takuya Kogawa, Shin Ono and Denver Cuello, with Cuello being his most impressive win. He's a solid fringe level fighter and a man looking to become China's first 2-time world champion.
Sadly for Omayao he is better known for who has beaten him than who he has beaten and what he's actually achieved. Among those who have beaten the young Filipino are a debuting Naouya Inoue, a then 2-0 Kosei Tanaka, a then 18-0 Wanheng Menayotin, a then 26-2 Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep and a 2-0 Genki Hanai, That's 3 current world champions, a former WBA interim champion and a man who is said to be eyeing up a Japanese title fight.
Whilst he is well known for losses the Filipino 22 year old has been regarded highly by the OPBF, who listed him at #2 in their most recent rankings, just a place behind Zhong. It's a lofty ranking, and a very debatable one, but it does open his door for this bout.
The contest will be one of a number of title fights on the show, though it certainly looks to be the most notable with the winner a likely target for some of the emerging fighters in the division, such as Takumi Sakae. On paper it should be an easy win for Zhong but Omayao has the gutsy and ability to really make him work for it.
*It appears that the spelling of Zhong's name has changed slightly from "Xiong Zhao Zhong", but it's definitely the same fighter.
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