On December 9th Japanese fight fans at Korakuen Hall will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) make his second defense, as he takes on Masaya Tamayama (14-2, 8), who will be competing in his first title bout. On paper this is a huge step up for the challenger, whilst Obara will be looking to continue his domination of the domestic scene, and potentially move towards a triple crown fight in 2022.
Of the two men involved in the fight it's fair to say that Obara is the much, much more well known fighter. He is, after all, a former world title challenger, a 2-weight Japanese national champion and a fighter who has previously held both of the notable regional titles. He is also someone who was long viewed as one of the few Japanese Light Welterweights who could make a mark internationally, and in fairness to him he did with a world title bout and two bouts in the US. Aged 35 he is certainly getting towards the end of his career, but with just 29 fights to his name, and a total of 156 rounds, he's not taken much punishment and does take very good care of his body outside of the sport.
In the ring Obara is a relative basic boxer, but one who does what he does pretty well. He is a pretty typical boxer-puncher, who wants distance to work at, and wants to be able to get full extension on his shots. At domestic level, and regional level, his power is brutal and it's rare that opponents have been able to survive against him. His power has carried up at domestic level from 140lbs to 147lbs and in fact it's probably fair to say that his 5'11" frame was always more suited to Welterweight than 140lbs. Although heavy handed Obara isn't the quickest out there, and he can be made to look slow of foot, he also doesn't like being forced to reset, something we've seen in a number of his losses, and he does have question marks over his chin, with 3 of his 4 losses coming by stoppage. Whilst we'll forgive his first loss, on debut when he ran out of gas in a scheduled 6 rounder, his other two stoppages have been devastating KO's worthy of a highlight for each of his conquerors.
Aged 28 Tamayama is coming into his prime but there is still a lot of question marks over his head. He turned professional in 2013 and reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2014, losing in the final to Hironobu Matsunaga. Following that loss he went on a nice winning run, picking up 8 wins before losing in 2019 to Riku Nagahama in what was a very well contested bout. Sadly whilst his 8 win run did look good on paper it didn't really hold up to scrutiny and he lacked a win of any note, and several of his wins, including one over Toshiro Tarumi was incredibly close. None of those wins really aged well either. Since lose to Nagahama he has notched two wins, but again they lack in terms of quality, with the best of them coming against Hisashi Kato, a limited "win some, lose some" domestic fighter
In the ring Tamayama is an aggressive fighter, who likes to bring pressure and force a fight. He's not particularly polished, or a big puncher, but his style is certainly one that could make for fun action bouts with the right dance partner. Despite bringing pressure he is a patient fighter, and he doesn't like wasting shots. He'll bring the pressure with his feet and look to get a mistake from his opponent before firing off shots. It's worth noting that he fights out of the Teiken gym and in some ways his style is similar to what we recently saw from Kenichi Ogawa against Azinga Fuzile, albeit with out the "Crush Right" of Ogawa. Against certain opponents, such as Shoki Sakai, he would make for a great fight, but against other fighters he just lacks those touches needed to make a mark at a higher level. Sadly he also doesn't have the tightest of defences and we regularly see opponents landing clean shots on him as he comes in.
Sadly for Tamayama his limited defensive skills will cost him here. Against the likes Hisashi Kato he can afford to get hit, against Obara however he can't. Obara's power is devastating at Japanese level, and we suspect that we'll see that here. We expect to see Tamayama pressing forward, showing some good hunger, but getting tagged with hard right hands on his way in. Sooner or later those will be his undoing and he'll get rocked before Obara puts him away.
Prediction - TKO6 Obara
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.