Hiraoka wins vacant Japanese, WBO AP 140lb belts

Ex-champ Kurihara regains OPBF 118lb belt

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda


Unbeaten lanky southpaw, IBF#6 Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13 KOs), 139.75, seized a couple of vacant Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific 140-pound belts when he decked unbeaten hard-puncher, 20-year-old Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10 KOs), 144 (who failed to make weight by four pounds), three times and finally halted him at 1:58 of the eleventh round in a scheduled twelve on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. The 5’11” Andy, the son of a Ghanan-American trainer Justice, used to be a track and field runner before he concentrated on boxing, and his physical flexibility and reflexes are very excellent.

From the outset the shorter but more powerful Sasaki kept swinging roundhouse punches and stalking the prefight favorite from pillar to post. But it was Andy that scored with more accurate and effective southpaw lefts upstairs and downstairs, and he caught the game warrior with short combos, dropping Sasaki twice in round seven. Sasaki, however, recovered well and threw a big shot at a time, while Andy connected with more accurate combos and finally caught up with him again with a southpaw right uppercut. Down he went. The ref waved it off to save Sasaki from further punishment. Andy, 25, under the promotional agreement with Top Rank, previously scored a couple of stoppages over Ricky Edwards (TKO4) and Rogelio Casares (TKO2) in Las Vegas in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

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In a companion title go, we witnessed a spectacular stoppage as former OPBF bantam champ Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14 KOs), 118, displayed his vaunted power-punching, badly floored defending OPBF ruler, unbeaten southpaw Kazuki Nakajima (10-1-1, 8 KOs), 117.75, twice and regained his regional belt at 0:52 of the third round in a scheduled twelve. Having been dethroned by ex-WBC interim titlist Takuma Inoue (who renounced the belt to pave the way for his stablemate Nakajima to acquire the vacant throne), Kurihara was gunning to regain his OPBF belt in this bout. His powerful right hand exploded at the face of the champ, who barely stood up from the first visit to the deck only to return to the canvas with another absorption of Kurihara’s big shot.

Promoter: Ohashi Promotions.
Attendance: 782 (with the JBC’s regulation at the Korakuen Hall).


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