Japanese Scene: The Sixth Round is Gold for Ota & Fuchigami

Sidney Boquiren has the recap for American fighter Charlie Ota's latest bout in Japan (undercard details after the jump).  For more Japanese boxing updates, you can follow Sidney on twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter

Ota explodes in sixth with two knockdowns to force TKO

Charlie Ota may have won his title defense on Monday before the actual start of the bout as he had earlier issued a challenge to Akio Shibata that, in retrospect, the former champ seemed to have taken to heart. Ota declared that Shibata would have to try and take his belts from him with aggression, rather than run around for twelve rounds and expect to win. The taller textbook boxer, who prefers to work outside and at a distance, ended up standing his ground more than he typically would – even pressing the action at times – and effectively gave up his advantages. With less evasive prey, Ota was free to go to work.

Monday’s showdown marked the second meeting bewteen these competitors, as Shibata was the man that Ota beat to claim his current throne. Unlike the cat-and-mouse game that played out in March 2010, the current beltholder found success early and maintained the upper hand throughout the fight. Mixing in feints to throw off his opponent and utilizing the lead right from the initial round, Ota made the challenger pay for daring to stand in front of him. While Shibata looked to land the right hand counter, the American popped off quick jabs and found the mark wit his overhand right.

Perhaps realizing that his chosen strategy was not working, the challenger reset in the second frame, circling more while pumping his jab. A few looping left hooks designed to sneak around the champ’s tight guard connected behind his ear. Ota was noticeably less productive this period and would regularly telegraph his next move by attacking with the same pattern repeatedly.

It was the incumbent’s turn to make an adjustment in the third and fourth, and Ota responded by first using a high shoulder defense. Shibata found the smaller target a more difficult one to reach and was less effective with his stick. The champ also retaliated with a short right hand, landing it several times in the third.

Turning up the pressure in the next stanza, Ota constantly beat Shibata to the punch, scoring with his jab, left hook and right hand. Counter rights also found the mark and the champ landed the biggest punch of the fight in the form of a right hand that surprised both men just before the sound of the bell.

Though Shibata took round five when he got back on his bicycle, that success was short lived as Ota stormed out in the sixth, immediately scoring with a right and left. Then, trapping the challenger in a corner, the champ threw combinations that went from the body to the head. Shibata could absorb only so much punishment and dropped to the canvas before thirty seconds had gone by in the round. He would stand on his feet only to eat more leather, and a right hand sent him sprawling again. Shibata would rise once more, but Ota unloaded with uppercuts and straight rights prompting the referee to step in at the 1:53 mark.

The Tokyo-based American, who we featured in a post earlier this week, retained his Japanese and OPBF junior middleweight titles and improved to 18-1-1 (13KO). While he did a bit better in catching Shibata than in the previous encounter, Ota still has issues following opponents around the ring instead of cutting it off. Though the feints and punch selection early in the bout were nice improvements, the 29-year old will need to bolster his defense if he is to take a step up as he allows too many punches to get through. His current competition may not be able to hurt him, but if he is to fight anyone close to the top ten, he will need to move his head and upper body more.

Fuchigami catches slippery Hosokawa in six

Ota’s gymmate and national middleweight strapholder Makoto Fuchigami seemed to have trouble with pesky Takayuki Hosokawa in the early rounds of their showdown on the undercard. Though he would drop the challenger hard in the fourth with a straight left, Fuchigami did not claim a grasp on the fight until late in the sixth round. Forcing Hosokawa to the ropes with a counter left, the champ delivered a barrage of blows that finally made him wilt. The bout was waived off shortly with an official time of 2:07.

Fuchigami advanced to 17-6, 8KO.

e-mail Sidney Boquiren

For more coverage of Japanese boxing, follow Sidney on Twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter

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