We continue our Did You Know... series by moving through the weights and looking at the OPBF Super Middleweight title. Given the the fact the title has been around for over 30 years we would expect some interesting facts, and there are some...some which genuinely shocked us.
-There have only been 42 OPBF Super Middleweight title bouts, including interim title bouts, since the title was inaugurated in 1988 with 18 reigns of the regular title, and 2 interim title reigns. Australian Rod Carr was in the first 4 bouts for the title, Yuzo Kiyota has been in 12 of those and Yoshinori Nishizawa has been in 9.
-Most of the title reigns have been by Australians. In fact 9 Australian's have held the title, for a combined 10 reigns of the belt.
-Only 1 OPBF Super Middleweight champion has won a world title, with that being Danny Green. Several have however fought for world titles
-Yoshiaki Tajima was the first Japanese fighter to challenge for a Super Middleweight world title title, losing in 7 rounds to In Chul Baek. He's the only Japanese world title challenger at the weight to have never won the OPBF Super Middleweight title, though he did win the OPBF Middleweight title. Both Yoshinori Nishizawa and Yuzo Kiyota have both won the OPBF title, multiple times, and challenged at world level. None of the three men managed to win their world title bouts though.
-The OPBF Super Middleweight title has been held by two Korean fighters. The first was Byung-In Kang, who won the title in 1993 and defended it twice before losing to Australian Darren Obah and retiring with a 12-1 (7) record. The second was Yong Suk Choi, who actually took the belt from Obah in 1996, in just his third bout and also retired with 1 loss, ending his career in 2009 with an 11-1 (5) record.
-Yoshinori Nishizawa is the only 3-time champion. Rod Carr and Yuzo Kiyota both had 2 reigns. Interestingly Carr and Kiyota ended their first reigns by vacating, and won the title they themselves had vacated before anyone else had won it. This gives Carr the first and second reigns and Kiyota the 15th and 16th reigns.
-At the time of writing, the last bout for the belt was way back in September 2018, as Jayde Mitchell made his second defense of the belt
-Although not related to the OPBF title directly Korean fighters are the only Asian fighters to win world titles at Super Middleweight, with Chong Pal Park and In Chul Baek both holding world titles. Park was the first, holding the IBF title from 1984 to 1987 and the the WBA title from 1987 to 1988, and then Baek followed holding the WBA title from 1989 to 1990.
At the time of writing the OPBF Minimumweight title hasn't been fought for since Lito Dante shocked Tsubasa Koura in March 2019, despite that we thought it was an interesting title to look at for our latest "Did You Know" feature...
-The first ever OPBF Minimumweight champion was Samuth Sithnaruepol, who was in the final ever 15 round world title bout. Samuth would defend the OPBF title 4 times before winning the IBF Minimumweight title, defending it twice. Interestingly he lost the IBF title to Nico Thomas, who later went on to win the OPBF Minimumweight title as well!
-Samuth and Thomas aren't the only 2 OPBF Minimumeight champions to win world titles. Others include Hi Yong Choi, Rodel Mayol, Akira Yaegashi, Merlito Sabillo, Kosei Tanaka, Ryuya Yamanaka and Hiroto Yamanaka. Interesting Thomas wasn't the only man to win a world title before winning the OPBF title, with Xiong Zhao Zhong doing the same, winning the WBC title before taking the OPBF belt
-As mentioned Samuth Sithnaruepol was the first champion and he made 4 defenses of the belt. That 4 defenses record is actually a record for the most defenses of the title title. Samuth is also the only Thai to have won the title.
-The title has been held by fighters from Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Philippines and China. Whilst that might not seem something worthy to mention it is actually the only OPBF title to be held to be held by fighters from those 5 particular countries. In fact it's the only one to have ever been won by a Chinese fighter!
-The first 4 champions, and 16 of the combined 22 title reigns to date, have ended with a champion vacating the title!
-Given the title has changed hands 5 times, rather than being won from a vacancy as it has been 17 times, it's interesting to note that it's only been won from a reigning champion ONCE by unanimous decision. This unique result saw Yasutaka Kuroki defeat Toshikazu Waga on November 16th 2008.
-From the 53 title bouts 3 have ended in a draw, including 1 technical draw. Amazingly the most recent of those was more than a decade ago!
-There wasn't an OPBF Minimumweight title bout in 2013, 2001, 1997, 1996 and 1994
-Incidentally the longest reign of a fighter was 3 years and 11 days, from February 11th 1995 to February 22nd 1998, by Nico Thomas. It is worth noting however that for more than 24 months of his reign he didn't actually defend the belt.
To go along with our regular Sunday feature, "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." we've decided to try a similar feature here looking at something a little bit different. The OPBF. Here bring you "10 facts you probably didn't know about... the OPBF"
1-The OPBF was originally founded in 1952 as the OBF, the Oriental Boxing Federation, which it continued to be called until November 1977. It wasn't related to the previous Oriental Boxing Federation (OBF), which had existed before World War 2. It changed it's name after Australia and New Zealand were approved to join, necessitating the addition of "Pacific" to it's name.
2-It was set up by Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, with Korea joining in 1957
3-The OPBF themselves recognise the first OBF champion as Filipino legend Gabriel "Flash" Elorde for his October 18th win over Hiroshi Horiguchi, for the OBF Bantamweight title. In total Elorde fought in 23 OPB title bouts during his legendary career, and he actually fought against the second ever OBF champion, when he challenged Larry Bataan in May 1953 for the OBF Featherweight title. Elorde is also the first OBF champion as recognised by the WBC, who are the world title body associated with the OBF/OPBF.
4-Interestingly Boxrec lists the first OBF champion as Chamroen Songkitrat, who they say won the OBF title Lightweight title on October 13th 1952 with a win over Speedy Cabanela on October 13th 1952. From what we can find Chamroen's reign wasn't officially recognised until March 1953, when he stopped Masashi Akiyama, making him the fourth OBF champion, not the first.
5-The 21 defenses of the OPBF Middleweight title by Jae-Doo Yuh, from 1971 when he beat Cassius Naito to when he retired in 1978, is the most of any champion. Strangely Boxrec list him as having 22 defenses of the belt. The confusion with boxrec here is that the March 30th1975 bout against Nobuyoshi Ozaki, the second bout between the two men, isn't regarded as an official title defense. Regardless of the confusion he's the only fighter to have had 20 or more defenses of an OBF/OPBF title.
6-The "Gentle Giant" Rev Santillan, a Filipino who fought from 1995 to 2010, is the only man to be hold an OPBF title 4 times. He managed to win, and lose, the OPBF Welterweight title 4 times between 2001 and 2008. Interestingly he would fight numerous rematches during that time frame and went 1-1-1 with Hiroshi Watanabe, losing the belt and reclaiming it from Watanabe, losing the belt and regaining it from Kazuhiko Hidaka and losing twice to Motoki Sasaki
7-The OPBF began to recognise women's boxing in 2009, and had no connection to the OPFBA. Despite only being official recognised in 2009 they did recognise Susie Ramadan's 2008 victory over Michelle Preston as the first OPBF female title bout, and when the two rematched in 2009 Ramandan did record the first ever OPBF female title defense.Despite recognising female boxing there are only 11 weight classes recognised, from Atom to Welterweight excluding Light Welterweight.
8-Roman Kovalchuk, who won the OPBF Cruiserweight title in 2000 and defended it once, is the only European fighter to have won an OPBF title. He was from Ukraine.
9-On a similar note Xiong Zhao Zhong is the only Chinese fighter to have held an OPBF title, having won the OPBF title in 2015 with a win over Crison Omayao. Strangely he never defended the title.
10-Several reigning OPBF champions have been beaten by debutants. These include Akio Shibata, who was stopped by Ryota Murata, and Sae Chul Kang, who was beaten over 10 rounds by Ki Soo Kim
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).