By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Making his initial defense since his coronation last June, OPBF flyweight champ Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-2, 4 KOs), a slick-punching southpaw at 112, barely kept his regional belt when he was held to a hard-fought draw with sharp and speedy Filipino Jobert Alvarez (17-2-2, 7 KOs), 111.25, over twelve hard-fought rounds on Friday in Tokyo, Japan. The OPBF#8 Alvarez, two years his junior at 27, was a better boxer than his credentials indicated in a competitive fight of southpaws. The official verdict was as follows: Kazuo Abe (Japan) 115-113 for the champ, Randy Caluag (Philipppines) 115-114 for the challenger, Kazunobu Asao (Japan) 114-114. The third man was Kazutoshi Yoshida (Japan).
In a confrontation of southpaws, Alvarez scored well with southpaw right hooks to the cautious champ, taking three points to losing one in the first four sessions. The Filipino lefty, an upright stylist with good footwork, seemed to be outsmarting the crafty champ in the beginning of the fight. As the champ fought back hard, it became a see-saw affair in the next four sessions with following tallies after the eighth—77-75 twice and 77-76, all in favor of the challenger.
Alvarez, however, apparently became fading and slowing down in the last four sessions, when Nakayama, with his great determination, displayed his last surge and connected with more accurate combinations to overcome the Filipino’s early lead on points. The Filipino corner seemingly loosened Jobert’s bandage and took time for his recovery, but Alvarez wasn’t what he was in earlier rounds. His punches were void of snap and power due to his obvious fatigue, while Nakayama, with his strong will to defend the belt, had his engine full and seemingly swept all the last four rounds to barely retain his belt. Alvarez deserves a rematch. This was the semi-windup of the OPBF doubleheader presented by Kaneko Promotions.