By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Japanese southpaw footworker Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-1, 4 KOs), 112, impressively wrested the OPBF flyweight belt when he kept his fleet-footed mobility busy all night and scored a split but well-received decision (116-112, 115-113, 113-115) over Filipino defending titlist Richard Claveras (17-3-2, 10 KOs), 111.75, over twelve hard-fought rounds on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. It wasn’t surprising that the less experienced Nakayama won the belt but that a Filipino judge tallied for the compatriot despite such a clear contest in terms of victory or defeat. Should Claveras have been a winner, it would jhave been such a crime as a tally with Lee Haskins the winner over Ryan Burnett. Nakayama, a very shifty Chuck Davey stylist, kept moving side-to-side to avert Claveras’ solid but less accurate punches, often accurately connecting with southpaw lefts to the face and the belly. The Japanese challenger had him in trouble in rounds five, seven and eight to have the interim tallies in his favor due to the OPBF open scoring system: 78-74 twice and 76-76 (incomprehensible). The Filipino might be a hard-puncher, whose solid blows, however, couldn’t catch the Fancy Dan all the way, having absorbed much punishment. What he could was to show his durability and heart without going down. Yuji Fukuchi refereed.
In the main event, interim national champ Masayuki Kuroda (27-7-3, 15 KOs), 112, unified the Japanese flyweight belts as he dropped full titleholder WBC#5/WBA#4/WBO#7/IBF#5 Takuya Kogawa (28-5, 13 KOs), 112, with a vicious left hook in the opening session, kept on attacking the champ and was awarded a hairline split duke (95-94, 96-93, 94-95) over ten give-and-take rounds. Both repeatedly hit the air without catching the target since they were too tense and emotional to land punches in their grudge fight, and frequently clinches each other. The crowd was on its feet, but experts winced to watch the least technical contest. It was the first-round knockdown that eventually decided the game.