Report by Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat
Once regarded as a bright prospect, WBC#11/IBF#12/WBO#10 Kohei Ohba (33-2-1, 13 KOs), 118, impressively kept his national bantam belt as he kept battering peekaboo-styled top contender Satoshi Niwa (15-16-3, 2 KOs), 117.5, from all angles to prompt the referee’s well-received and well-timed halt at 2:13 of the sixth round on Friday in Kobe, Japan.
Reviewing his eleven-year career, we may admit Ohba’s couple of failures to win the OPBF belt from such Filipino champs as Malcolm Tunacao and Rolly Lunas were the main impediments to people being reminiscent of his once ballyhooed talent. But Ohba, now 28, regained the national 118-pound throne five years after he wrested it from Masayuki Mitani in Nagoya in 2008. Ohba used to be an imitation of his idol Floyd Mayweather Jr. but couldn’t utilize his cross-armed guard and defensive style prior to a sudden surge on attack. He was only a poor Daniel to the master Miyagi AKA Mayweather at that time. His trainers often advised Ohba not to copy Money’s special way of fighting, but he wouldn’t listen to their worthy opinion. The then world-rated Ohba unanimously lost to OPBF champ Tunacao in a rematch in 2010 (with the first encounter ending in a controversial draw), and hit the canvas time and again to badly succumb to Lunas in eleven bitter rounds in 2011.
He moved to Shinsei Gym in Kobe from Space K Gym in Nagoya, his native place, since 2011. Ohba, despite good influence by ex-WBC titlist Hozumi Hasegawa and former rival Tunacao in Kobe, got into a slump, and showed only a lackluster performance in three wins on points last year. His speed and sharpness had looked gone.
Ohba, however, today displayed his unusual aggressiveness from the outset and whipped the durable challenger with continual right uppercuts that penetrated his tight guard with precision. Ohba scored well with solid left hooks to the side of the belly and exploded the uppercuts to the face. His aggression continued so long that the referee didn’t hesitate to waive it off. It was rare that we witnessed such an aggressive showing of Ohba, a usually lazy Mayweather mimic. It’s a good night for Ohba, who wishes to have a crack at Koki Kameda’s WBA throne.
OPBF#14 bantam Mark John Yap (19-9, 10 KOs), 117.25, positively showed fireworks and withstood the retaliation of Ryotaro Kawabata (8-2, 3 KOs), 117.5, winning a majority decision (77-76, 77-75 and 76-76) over hard-fought eight.
Promoter: Shinsei Promotions.