Report and photo by Joe Koizumi
Philippine lightweight champ, OPBF#4 Rey Labao (23-4, 15 KOs), 135.25, a hard-punching southpaw, floored Japan’s Taisho Ozawa (21-8-2, 13 KOs), 136, with vicious lefts in the first and third rounds, kept stalking his opponent and finally chalked up an impressive TKO victory at 1:57 of the fifth round on Friday in Tokyo, Japan. We know Jay Solmiano, then Filipino 135-pound champ, displayed such a gallant performance in dropping currently WBC#1 lightweight contender Nihito Arakawa to the canvas to finally lose a hairline split duke in the OPBF elimination bout in 2011. It was Labao that dethroned national champ Solmiano on a first round demolition in March of the previous year.
As expected, Labao, slow but hard-hitting, caught the game Japanese with a looping southpaw left to send him sprawling to the deck in the first, and repeated Ozawa’s visit to the canvas midway in round three. Ozawa gamely fought back hard, but his whole face was covered with crimson, and the ref didn’t hesitate to call a halt since his cuts had been opened by Labao’s legal shots. Labao looked very slow but could punch with either hand. The Filipino southpaw said, “I hope to have a shot at the OPBF belt against current titlist Arakawa on my next coming here.” Arakawa, a fast and skillful southpaw now rated atop by the WBC, may handle Labao with his advantageous speed and combinations, but it won’t be an easy fight.
Promoter: Hideki Todaka Gym.