By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Boxing Beat
WBC#8/WBA#11 Japanese southpaw Shin Ono (15-5-2, 2 KOs), 108, barely acquired the vacant OPBF light-flyweight belt as he was awarded a hairline split verdict (114-113, 117-110 and 113-114) over OPBF#2 Omari Kimweri (12-3, 4 KOs), 107.5, over twelve hard-fought rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
The short but sturdy Kimweri, a Tanzanian residing in Melbourne for six years since boxing in the amateur Commonwealth championship bout in Australia, had the upper hand by positively throwing roundhouse blows from the outset, leading on points: 39-37 twice and 37-39 after the fourth. Though Ono attempted to counter the willing mixer afterwards, Kimweri dropped him with a looping right hook midway in round eight. The second announcement of the tallies after the eighth was as follows: 76-75 twice for Kimweri and 77-74 for Ono. The Japanese southpaw showed his best in the tenth, stalking the Tanzanian from pillar to post. But Kimweri looked a little more aggressive in the last two sessions to make the decision hard to score. The newly crowned Ono will be obliged to meet OPBF#1 Virgilio Silvano in his initial defense, but if victorious, he is hoped to respond to the challenge of Kimweri, who deserves a rematch. Ono had entered the WBC top ten thanks to his upset victory over future WBC 108-pound champ and then world-rated Xiong Zhao Zhong of China in April of the previous year.
In the main event, Japanese super-welter champ Akio Shibata (20-7-1, 9 KOs), 154, impressively kept his national belt when he dropped top contender Takayuki Hosokawa (22-10-3, 7 KOs), a tricky southpaw from Osaka, three times en route to an automatic knockout at 2:53 of the eighth round.
The taller champ made good use of his trademark footwork to avert the crouching stylist Hosokawa’s unorthodox attack, and connected with sharp rights to the southpaw challenger. Shibata had him at bay in the third and fourth, but Hosokawa showed his durability and deftness in grabbing the champ whenever the champ landed effective shots to the face and midsection. Shibata, in the fatal eighth, accelerated his attack, dropping him twice before the referee Vinny Martin made a well-timed stoppage on the lopsided affair. As Hosokawa, at the halt, almost hit the deck for the third time in the round, the JBC announced that the three-knockdown rule was applied to this stoppage so that the result should be registered as a KO, not a TKO.
This is the first national title bout of the annual Carnival of Champions, where all the national titlists shall have to defend their belts against mandatory challengers, as follows:
105 lbs: February 26, Ryuji Kuroda vs. Yuma Iwahashi
112 lbs: February 27, Takuya Kogawa vs. Shigetaka Ikehara
115 lbs: March 31, Teiru Kinoshita vs. Toyoto Shiraishi
118 lbs: March 16, Kohei Ohba vs. Jerope Zuiyama (for the vacant title)
122 lbs: date undecided, Hidenori Otake vs. Eita Kikuchi
126 lbs: date undecided, Hisashi Amagasa vs. Daisuke Yokoyama
130 lbs: April 6, Daiki Kaneko vs. Kyohei Tamakoshi
135 lbs: February 25, Yoshitaka Kato vs. Yuhei Suzuki
140 lbs: February 11, Shinya Iwabuchi vs. Valentine Hosokawa
147 lbs: date undecided, Suyon Takayama vs. Moonhyong Yung
160 lbs: February 11, Sanosuke Sasaki vs. Tomohiro Ebisu
We are pleased to watch those competitive bouts with the national championships on the line.