Sidney Boquiren recaps Saturday's boxing action from Japan. For more Japanese boxing updates, you can follow Sidney on twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter
Super featherweight prospect Seiichi Okada retained his national title with a unanimous decision over journeyman Kota Suzushino on Saturday, but seems to have hit a plateau in his progress as a pugilist. Though the 29-year old had little problem with the light punching veteran’s attack, Okada allowed the more diminutive Suzushino to push him around and dictate the pace of the fight. The challenger was likely hand picked so Okada could notch another KO on his record, but the champ never really delivered enough to threaten to end the fight early. After ten rounds, the tallies read 98-93, 97-94, 96-95.
The majority of the bout was a firefight held in close quarters. That should have played into Okada’s strength as he excels in crisp, compact combinations that feature uppercuts and hooks from both hands. But the champ could not sit on his punches as he gave Suzushino a free pass to walk inside and plant his head into his chest. Fighting off the ropes or trapped in the corner for much of the 30 minutes, Okada was credited with rounds as he blocked much of the challenger’s punches while scoring with cleaner blows. Tactically, however, the beltholder looked lost as to how to create space, his frustration boiling over late in the contest as he practically threw Suzushino half way across the ring when the challenger burrowed into him.
Okada, now 15-1 (9KO), has been up and down since his only professional loss in February 2010. That was a split decision that went to previous titleholder Takashi Miura – a nip and tuck affair this writer felt should have went to Okada. After two quick TKOs over inferior competition, he was matched with big puncher and former national champ Rikiya Fukuhara. Okada claimed the vacant title with a split decision, but the consensus seems to have been that the veteran deserved the nod. Though his last fight was a nice action-packed war with respected journeyman Hero Bando, his performance Saturday was far from impressive.
In his post fight interview, Okada was asked if he is gunning for one of the two Japanese world champions in the division, namely Takahiro Ao. It is very premature at this point to consider the national champ as a verified world contender. Fighting inside may be his forte, but Okada really needs to show some diversity and tactical skill before taking a big step up in competition.
In the undercard, featherweight prospect Toru Suzuki barely edged out former OPBF champ Jonel Alibio by majority decision 78-75, 78-77, 76-76.
For more coverage of Japanese boxing, follow Sidney on Twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter