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Watanabe keeps OPBF welter belt

Report by Joe Koizumi
Photo by Boxing Beat

WBC#12 Akinori Watanabe (28-4, 25 KOs), 146.5, kept his OPBF welterweight belt as he floored overmatched compatriot Cobra Suwa (12-10-2, 5 KOs), 146.5, with a southpaw left in the opening session, piled up points and finally halted him with the referee’s intervention to a lopsided onslaught at 2:45 of the sixth round on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. But Watanabe, making his fifth defense, looked sluggish and slow from the outset probably since he had three pounds over the limit at his first trip to the scale and had to desperately shed the poundage in an hour, which might have deprived him of his energy and zip. Despite one-sided proceedings Suwa could withstand the champ’s solid combinations as Watanabe absorbed the challenger’s retaliation without good defensive skills. Suwa sometimes forced the champ to the ropes with a flurry of punches, though Watanabe mostly swarmed over him and battered him with strong but less accurate combo than usual.

Watanabe, in his previous defense last November, defeated then WBA highly ranked Prawet Singwancha, Thailand, by a unanimous verdict, and then looked very fine and ferocious in comparison with his performance of this night. Watanabe reportedly once had sparring sessions with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, hitting the canvas time and again at the gym years ago. Looking at so sluggish Watanabe tonight, no one would mention a possibility of Watanabe against Money, which may be by far beyond reality.

Promoter: Kyoei Promotions.




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