In recent times the OPBF title has given us some amazing bouts, and some less than great bouts. Sometimes we've seen fights we expected to be good, but ended up being mismatches like Daigo Higa's win over Ardin, and other times we've had bouts surprise and be much better than expected. Sadly though we can't see any way in which the upcoming OPBF Welterweight title bout will be anything but a disappointment.
The bout in question will see once beaten 25 year old champion Jack Brubaker (12-1-1, 6) battle against 35 year old Filipino journeyman Mark Sales (22-40-4, 8). We're sorry if we sound like we're being harsh, but this is little more than a sham defense for the very talented Brubaker.
The champion won the title back in 2015, when he stopped China's Xing Xin Yang in 4 rounds. He has since defended the belt twice, stopping Paddy Murphy in 6 rounds and taking a split decision win over Suyon Takayama in what was a genuine classic last July.
Brubaker is a million miles away from becoming a world champion, but he's a really good fighter, with good stamina, genuine grit and under-rated power. He's far from a puncher but has stopped 3 of his last 4, having only been forced to go the 12 round distance by the tough Takayama.
With two defenses under his belt we could really have Brubaker looking to either establish himself as a real champion and face some other top Oriental contenders, such as Czar Amonsot, Cammeron Hammond, or even a promising prospect like Yuki Beppu or Takeshi Inoue, though not fighting Inoue is fair enough given he will himself be fighting for a Japanese title later this month. Instead however he's up against Sale, who is at best a journeyman.
The 35 year old Sale has been a professional since 1997 , when he fought way down at Light Flyweight, and remarkably he picked up his first win as Minimumweight! Since then however Sale has filled into a bigger fighter, fighting all the way up the weights to Light Welterweight, where he has fought the last few years. During his long career he has faced a who's who of the Oriental scene. That has seen him face the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Fahlan Sakkreerin, Nonito Donaire, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Terdsak Kokietgym, Allan Tanada, Romeo Jakosalem and Al Rivera. Sadly for Sale he has lost to almost every notable name he has ever faced.
It's worth noting that Sale does have some good wins on his record, the last of which came in 2005, when he beat Bernabe Concepcion. Interestingly that win was the last time Sale beat an opponent with a winning record. That bout, fought around the Bantamweight limit, should tell you why we think this is such a horrible mismatch. Sale hasn't beaten a fighter with a winning record in over a decade, he hasn't scored a notable win above Super Bantamweight and isn't fit for an OPBF title fight, especially not at Welterweight, which he has never fought at.
Given Sales recent results it's hard to see him having any success here. He's proven his durability, with just 6 stoppages losses in 66 bouts, but it's hard to see him lasting the distance with Brubaker, who has shown respectable power in recent fights.
In Europe the traditional route to a world title was to win a national crown, for example the British, Italian or French title, then move towards winning a European title before progressing towards a world title. Whilst are other options, with British fighters often collecting a Commonwealth on their way up for example, the tradition route has always been to gradually step up, before moving towards a world title.
The same is true in parts of Asia. Traditionally fighters will win a national title, before a regional title and then on to world titles. It's true that fighters do often skip stages but many do go, or try to go, the traditional route using each level as a stepping stone.
One fighter trying to take that step up this week is former Japanese Welterweight champion, and current OPBF “interim” champion, Suyon Takayama (24-1, 8) who takes on the OPBF champion Jack Brubaker (10-1-1, 5) this coming Monday in a bout shown over the www.boxingraise.com website.
Aged 30 this is a step for the once beaten Takayama, who has won his last 12 in an unbeaten 6 year run. That run saw him claim the Japanese title in December 2012 and record an impressive 6 defenses. As the champion Takayama beat the likes of Koshinmaru Saito, Cobra Suwa, Moon Hyun Yun and Nobuyuki Shindo. Amazingly however he failed to stop any of the top Japanese fighters and went the distance in all 7 of his title bouts at Japanese level. Whilst that proved his stamina his also also show his lack of power.
At the turn of the year Takayama vacated the national title to focus on the OPBF title and claimed the interim belt in February, when he stopped Filipino fighter Joel De La Cruz. That was Takayama's first stoppage win since November 2012 and it said more about De la Cruz than Takayama, with the Filipino suffering his 10th stoppage loss.
In the ring Takayama has a great engine, a brilliant will to win a genuine grit. He lacks power, he lacks amazing speed and in fairness very little, other than his stamina, really impress. But he's hard to beat and will continue to be so at the level he's fighting. He will however never make a genuine mark on the world stage.
As for Brubaker the 24 year old Australian also has just a single loss to his name, coming in an Australian national title fight at 140lbs. Since then he has moved up in weight and strung together 5 straight wins, including his title winning effort against China's Xing Xin Yang and a single defense of the title against Paddy Murphy. Again Yang we were impress by Brubaker who looked like a promising fighter as he boxed carefully behind a good jab, found a range for his right hand and dropped Yang twice in the opening round before finishing him in the 4th. Although Brubaker impressed Yang did look terrible was out of his depth from the opening bell.
Although he has looked impressive in his last couple of bouts it's hard to really know how good he is given that his competition hasn't been great. He is however a fight who appears to be developing, appears to hit harder than his record suggests and comes to fight. There are a lot of holes in his defence but there is a lot to like about, and his jab is sharp with some crisps coming off of it.
When we see the men in the ring we're expecting to see Brubaker fight on the outside whilst Takayama will try and turn it into a fight. If Brubaker has the energy to avoid a fight and can pick off the challenger with his jab he should be able to take a clear win. If however Takayama can get inside and turn it into a fight then we'd favour Takayama to out work and out point Brubaker for the title over 12 compelling rounds.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.