Report, Photos by Joe Koizumi
In a country of samurai (ancient brave warrior), Kumamoto, Japan, there will be the WBO 105-pound title bout tomorrow (Sunday). We today saw the weigh-in ceremony at the arena, Shiroyama Sky Dome, where defending champ Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-4-6, 7 KOs) scaled in at 104.75, while mandatory challenger Ryuya Yamanaka (14-2, 4 KOs) at the 105-pound class limit.
The WBO officials are as follows: referee Eddie Claudio (US); judges Carlos Ortiz Jr. (US; no relation to former great world titleholder), Surat Soikrachang (Thailand), Salven Lagumbay (Philippines); supervisor Leon Panoncillo (US).
The southpaw champ Fukuhara, making his initial defense, acquired the WBO interim minimumweight belt by a split verdict over Mexican Moises Calleros this February, and moved up to full titlist due to legitimate champ Katsunari Takayama having retired to renounce his belt. Yamanaka (no relation to former WBC bantam kingpin Shinsuke) gained the vacant OPBF belt by scoring a nearly shutout decision over Filipino Merlito Sabillo last November, and elevated to the top rank. Fukuhara is an aggressive puncher, while Yamanaka a boxer-puncher with good footwork. It will be a crowd-pleasing competitive fight.