The 140lb division goes by many names, including “Light Welterweight”, our preferred option, “Junior Welterweight” and “Super Lightweight”, it also has has a history of having great fights and some explosive fighters.
On February 11th we potentially get another great fight in the division as the OPBF title is put on the line for a fight between Japan's exciting Shinya Iwabuchi (26-5, 22) [岩渕 真也] and Filipino banger Al Rivera (14-2, 12), who trade blows for the vacant title. For Iwabuchi it'll be his third shot an OPBF title, having previously been a Japanese national champion, whilst Rivera will be fighting in his first OPBF title bout, though has previously held the PBF 135lb title.
From the records it's clear that both men can bang. Iwabuchi sports a 71% KO rate with stoppages against the likes of Romeo Jakosalem, Jimrex Jaca, Valentine Hosokawa, and Koichi Aso, who was stopped inside a round by Iwabuchi. Rivera on the other hand holds a 75% KO rate, including a notable but controversial KO win against countryman Adones Cabalquinto. Between them they have only heard the final bell on 9 occasions*.
Of the two men it's fair to describe Iwabuchi as the more proven. The 30 year old Japanese southpaw has shared the ring with the likes of countryman Keita Obara and South Korean slugger Min Wook Kim, who beat beat him in OPBF title fights, as well as the stoppage victims mentioned above. Rivera however is the younger man, at just 22, and will be riding high in confidence after his win over Cabalquinto last November.
Not only is Iwabuchi the more proven but he's also naturally the bigger and tougher. His only stoppage loss came to the monstrously hard hitting Obara, whilst he dug in for 12 rounds against Kim, whilst Rivera has been stopped twice, including an opening round defeat on his debut at 130lbs.
Given that both men like to throw heavy shots, and can be hurt, we really don't see this one going the distance. Instead we suspect we'll see a short but exciting fight, with the visitor being the early aggressor, Iwabuchi soaking up the aggression before firing back in rounds 4 and 5 eventually stopping a tiring Rivera in the middle rounds of a thrilling fight.
The exchanges will be violent and the action intense. Don't miss this one when it's shown on Fuji TV later in the month.
*Iwabuchi holds a technical decision win.
Sometimes we get over-excited about bouts and feel disappointed when they don't live up to our lofty expectations. This happens and we know we're to blame for expecting more of fighters and fights. Sometimes however we get a feeling that something special will happen, our expectations won't just be met but will be exceeded. What we expect will be a war will be something even more brutal and exciting that we could have dreamt of.
We think that on August 11th Japanese fans may get one of those super special bouts as two huge punching, aggressively minded young fighters collide in an opportunity to prove themselves as the best 140lb fighter in the Orient and even move into, or up the, world rankings.
Going in to the bout the current and defending champion will be Keita Obara (11-1, 10), a 27 year old fighter from the Misako Gym. Obara was a top amateur with 55 wins from 70 bouts and was tipped for success as soon as he turned pro. Unfortunately he was matched incredibly hard on his debut and suffered a 5th round stoppage loss to the very experienced Kazuyoshi Kumano. Since then however Obara has developed mentally to become one of the most destructive fighters on the Japanese fight scene.
Since his sole loss Obara has scythed through his opponents with 10 stoppages in 11 subsequent bouts. Those stoppages haven't just come against limited foes either and have included wins over the likes of the very heavy handed Kengo Nagashima, a very tough guy, and Tetsuya Hasunuma, the only man to survive beyond 8 rounds with Obara. Those string of wins have also seen him claim the Japanese title, which he defended twice, and the OPBF title which he will be hoping to defend for the first time.
Although not technically the most talented fighter, Obara's power is genuinely potent and he's a scary man to get in the ring with. He can box on the back, box on the move or take the fight straight to you and his sole loss was down to maturity as opposed to skills or a weak chin. He tired himself out against a man who brought a lot of pressure to him and crumbled. Since then he has improved remarkably.
Challenging for the belt is another big puncher, Shinya Iwabuchi (23-4, 19). Iwabuchi is a 29 year old who didn't have the notable amateur success that Obara did though like Obara he too lost on debut, in fact Iwabuchi lost his first 2 professional contests. Since then however he developed into a very talented fighter and only lost twice, once to Daiki Koide in a notable step up, and once to Min Wook Kim in an OPBF title fight.
Of his bouts so far it's the Kim fight that was most interesting. The two men traded shots in one of the most exciting battles of 2013. Both men, at times, looked tired but both bit down on their gum shields to take part in an amazing fight that really didn't deserve a loser. It proved both men could take shots as well as throw them and it proved what the OPBF title really meant to both men.
Iwabuchi is the slightly more cautious of the two men here, at least to begin with. Iwabuchi will happily move under pressure and then strike like a cobra to take his chance to unload when an opening appears, as shown in his brilliant opening round victory against Shamgar Koichi. It was in that fight in particular, a Strongest Korakuen Final, that Iwabuchi's handspeed and combinations really stood out as he drew Koichi in then unloaded a maelstrom of punches to send his foe down after hurting him. Soon afterwards the referee had to stop the action.
What we have is not just two powerful puncher but we also have contrasting styles behind their power. For Iwabuchi his power and speed in combinations is destructive though in parts of fights he can get lazy and possible draw an opponent in to him. For Obara we have a heavy handed fighter who appears to have better 1-punch power but does lack experience has question marks over his stamina due to the fact he's been blowing opponents out.
We also have 2 men looking for their biggest win. For Iwabuchi this is a chance to claim an OPBF title at the second time of asking whilst for Obara his reword is a probable top 15 world ranking with the WBO and possibly also the WBC. Both guys are hungry, but guys are young and both guys know what the other brings to the ring.
What we're expecting is a thriller and, unsurprisingly, we don't expect this to go the distance. It will be violent, explosive and we expect both guys will be hurt at some point. We're not sure who will win but we know the fans will enjoy this one for as long as it goes on. It really will be something very special and in fact it's likely to be one of those FOTY contenders that only the lucky few who get to see it live will really appreciate.
The bout will headline Dangan 110 and we expect that it will be worth the ticket price by it's self, amazingly however it has been coupled with a brilliant Japanese Super Flyweight title fight as well.
(Image courtesy of Dangan boxing)
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.