December 6, 2014


The Korakuen Hall was fully packed with a sellout crowd that was greatly entertained by a sensational tripleheader on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. Though without his Japanese lightweight belt at stake, Yoshitaka Kato (29-5-1, 9 KOs), 136.75, was awarded a close but unanimous decision (96-95, 97-94 twice) over WBC#12 ex-OPBF titlist Nihito Arakawa (25-5-1, 16 KOs), 136.25, over ten heats. OPBF and Japanese middleweight ruler Akio Shibata (24-8-1, 10 KOs), 160, kept both belts as he finally caught former titleholder Makoto Fuchigami (21-10, 12 KO), 159.25, and halted him at 1:49 of the twelfth and final session. WBC#12 super-bantam Yukinori Oguni (14-1, 4 KOs), 122, seized the vacant national 122-pound throne via hairline unanimous verdict (96-94 twice and 96-95) over IBF#11 Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-8, 7 KOs), 122, over ten.

In a rubber match Kato scored his second triumph over the fast and busy southpaw rival, whom Kato whipped with a bit more accurate attack throughout the contest. Arakawa had raised his stock in Mexico and US though losing to Daniel Estrada and Omar Figueroa in tough battles. The shaven skulled Kato, however, connected with more accurate combinations to the game and gallant southpaw to earn a closest verdict as Arakawafs gash over the right eyebrow might become a nuisance for him from the seventh onward.

In a rematch since May in the previous year when Shibata captured the OPBF 160-pound belt from Fuchigami by a ninth round technical decision, Shibata was really frustrated tonight by the ex-champfs non-stop rallies but finally solved his strategy with a last surge to score a dramatic final-round stoppage. Fuchigami had tasted a bitter defeat at the hand of gGGGh Gennady Golovkin in Ukraine in 2012, but regained the OPBF throne in his next bout by halting Marlon Alta after the sixth session. It was Shibata that annexed the OPBF belt in Fuchigamifs first defense by utilizing his faster footwork. In their grudge fight, Shibata was more accurate and more effective, leading on points after the eighth due to the open scoring system: all 77-74. Apparently more exhausted than the ex-champ Fuchigami, Shibata, a six-footer whom Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata annihilated in round two of his professional debut in August of the previous year, showed his heart and accelerated his attack to cause the refereefs intervention.

It was a close and furious battle by fast-punching speedsters. Ishimoto, who had once upset Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. in Macao last year, kept throwing busier combinations to the taller upright stylist, who sometimes penetrated with a fewer but more effective shots despite a bad laceration over the left eyebrow caused by his foefs legal punches. After the fifth, the tallies were announced: 48-47 twice for Oguni and 48-47 for Ishimoto, which showed such a close affair. From the sixth on, Ishimoto desperately turned loose with hot combos but Oguni maintained his pace with precise counters that carried him to his second coronation (as he had once possessed the OPBF 122-pound belt).

Promoter: Hachioji Nakaya Promotions.


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