By Joe Koizumi
WBC#1/WBA#10 OPBF lightweight champ Nihito Arakawa (23-1-1, 15 KOs), 134.5, barely kept his regional belt as he impressively scored a come-from-behind TKO victory over formerly two-time world challenger Takehiro Shimada (27-6-1, 17 KOs), 134.5, at 2:59 of the eighth round on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. Also, WBC#5/WBA#6 Ryo Akaho (19-0-2, 12 KOs), 114.75, impressively retained his OPBF super-fly belt by halting unbeaten ex-amateur prospect Yohei Tobe (4-1, 2 KOs), 115, at 2:58 of the eighth session.
It was an OPBF title doubleheader by the compatriots before a sellout crowd at the Korakuen Hall. The veteran campaigner Shimada couldn’t celebrate his forty-first birthday although he was leading on points after the fourth—39-37 twice and 38-38. Bewildered and frustrated by Shimada’s tricky and persistent infighting, Arakawa, 30, finally turned loose with a flurry of punches that badly decked the fading challenger in the closing seconds of the seventh. Having failed to win the world belts from Edwin Valero here and Paulus Moses in Namibia, Shimada, in round eight, recovered and again kept boring in to disturb the champ’s outboxing strategy. Apparently Shimada seemed thorough due to his too hot pace, while Arakawa kept his composure and exploded a southpaw left to drop the older challenger by eleven years again. The referee Fukuchi wisely declared a halt to save the aging veteran from further punishment.
In another OPBF title bout, the champ Akaho fully displayed his free-swinging style to annoy the less experienced upright stylist. Tobe’s too early crack at the OPBF belt had been castigated by some people, but Tobe was such a fine prospect as to have defeated Korean national champ Jinki Jung (KO1) in his pro debut, ex-world champ Wandee Singwancha (KO2) in his second, former world challenger Yohei Kono (W8) and ex-WBC international titlist Ryan Bito (W8). He was only 4-0. The skeptics might have been right as Tobe was overwhelmed by Akaho’s rough-and-tumble attack, hit the deck and was duly stopped in the fatal eighth. Should a foreign fight scribe watch Akaho fight here, he would be disappointed at his least finesse, terribly unorthodox style and poor balance. But Akaho was fast and hard-hitting enough to demolish the highly expected prospect.
In retrospect, Shimada’s crack at the OPBF throne was ten years too late, while Tobe’s shot at least five fights too early.
Promoter: Hachioji Nakaya Promotions.