By Joe Koizumi
Photo by Boxing Beat
Unbeaten ex-amateur champ Naoto Uebayashi (4-0-1, 2 KOs), 122, gamely mixed it up, positively attacked more experienced Filipino, OPBF#12 Mark John Yap (19-10, 9 KOs), 121.5, and pounded out a unanimous decision (79-73, 79-74, 77-76) over eight hard-fought rounds on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. Uebayashi, 26, previously took six national amateur championships prior to entering the paid ranks, and faced the toughest opponent since his debut.
Uebayashi, whose amateur mark was 88-14 with 47 stoppages, kept stalking the Filipino footworker and occasionally landed solid left hooks over Yap’s straight rights like Nonito Donaire against Francisco Montiel. They swapped punches to entertain the crowd, but Uebayashi looked more effective in hurting the opponent with more powerful left hooks. In the closing seconds of the seventh, Uebayashi almost stunned Yap with a looping left with the bell coming to his rescue. This important triumph will have Uebayashi rated in the next OPBF super-bantam ratings. The gutsy prospect is handled by ex-WBA champs Shinji Takahara and Takanori Hatakeyama as co-managers.
Another ex-amateur prospect Hikaru Marugame (2-0, 1 KO), 121.75, defeated Philippine #15 bantam Roman Canto (8-3-2, 3 KOs), 121.5, by a unanimous verdict (60-54 twice and 60-55) over six scrappy rounds. Marugame, ex-national amateur bantam champ with a 60-14 mark, was an aggressor all the way, but Canto gamely fought back with his best effort.
Promoter: Tokashiki Promotions.