By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
A greatly anticipated confrontation of a vastly experienced champion and a best and brightest prospect resulted in a disappointingly lopsided affair on Friday in Tokyo, Japan. WBC#13/IBF#14 OPBF (Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation) super-bantamweight champ Hidenori Otake (30-2-3, 13 KOs), 121.75, impressively kept his regional belt that he acquired after his unsuccessful world title shot shattered by Scott Quigg in Liverpool in 2014, as he also shattered an ambition of previously unbeaten 20-year-old future-champ Hinata Maruta (5-1, 4 KOs), 121.75, by overpowering and outhustling him nearly all the way into a unanimous decision (117-111 and 116-112 twice) over twelve. The referee was Ryuji Fukuchi (Japan).
In his pro debut in 2015, Maruta, a 5’10” handsome and stylish youngster to be expected as a future star, defeated then world-rated Filipino Jason Canoy, and won the vacant WBC Youth belt in his third pro bout by finishing Wilbert Berondo in July of the previous year. He retained his belt twice within the distance to be named the best WBC Youth champ of the year to his credit. But Maruta’s title crack against such a rough and ringwise Orlando Salido stylist as Otake, a 36-year-old veteran, could be eventually criticized as simply premature since the prospect was unable to show any of his overly expected assets only to be forced to continually fight with his back to the ropes, absorbing much punishment from all angles.
Otake, a shaven-skulled veteran campaigner, effectively applied a peek-a-boo style to nullify the taller challenger’s jabbing and counterpunching, harshly kept boring in to mix it up in the close quarter and battered the side of the belly from the outset. As the contest progressed, Otake became confident in his strategy that greatly confused the highly expected WBC Youth champ, piling up points steadily. The sixth saw Maruta suffer nose-bleeding due to Otake’s persistent attacks upstairs and downstairs to the youngster’s annoyance. After the eighth the open scoring system indicated 78-74 on all cards—in favor of the aggressive champ.
Overpowering the less experienced challenger, Otake, a crafty veteran sixteen years his senior, continually gave a lesson to the youngster in the close range and showed his total dominance until the eleventh session. Maruta, however, displayed his talent and gameness in the twelfth and final session, when he gave up his original plan of hitting without getting hit, and recklessly fought hard with the defending champ with a huge lead on points. Neither was a loser because Otake was actually a victor on points, while Maruta showed his talent in the end of the fight.