SHIBATA UNIFIES OPBF & JAPANESE 160LB BELTS


March 1, 2014

TOKYO, JAPAN

In a sensational confrontation of an OPBF (Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation) champ and a Japanese titlist in the middleweight category, fast-moving Akio Shibata (22-8-1, 9 KOs), 160, successfully unified both belts by winning a unanimous verdict (116-113, 117-111, 115-113) over game warrior Daisuke Nakagawa (22-4-2, 17 KOs), 160, over twelve hard-fought rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. Itfs their grudge fight with Shibata having dethroned then national 154-pound titleholder Nakagawa via upset decision in 2012. Shibata, fresh from an annihilation by Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata in his professional debut last August, made best use of his vaunted footwork and nullified Nakagawafs aggression except in round nine when he almost caught up with the fleet-footed rival and had him on the brink of a knockout. But Shibata, with superior speed, recovered well and controlled the contest to collect another belt.

Undercard:

Rugged infighter Hikaru Nishida (10-6-1, 3 KOs), 160, seized a right to have an official shot at the winner of the main event (Shibata) as he won an upset unanimous decision (77-75, 77-76, 78-75) over ex-OPBF ruler Makoto Fuchigami (20-9, 11 KOs), 159.5, in an eight-round eliminator. Fuchigami, a flexible southpaw, once had an ambitious crack at the WBA 160-pound belt against Gennady Golovkin only to succumb in three rounds in Ukraine in May 2012.

Promoter: Watanabe Promotions.

(3-1-2014)


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