By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Chiba upsets Kurihara, wins OPBF 118lb belt
Unheralded Kai Chiba (15-3, 9 KOs), 117.75, stunned the crowd as he surprisingly dethroned WBC#11, IBF#11, WBO#15 OPBF bantamweight titlist Keita Kurihara (16-7-1, 15 KOs), 118, by an unexpected stoppage at 0:50 of the twelfth and final round on Thursday (September 22) in Tokyo, Japan. The hard-punching champ made a good start, leading on points: all 39-37 after the fourth. As the underdog Chiba mixed it up from the fifth, he overcame a points deficit to have it back to all 76-76 after the eighth. Chiba impressively accelerated his attack to hurt the champ in the eleventh and finally caught up with him with a last surge to prompt the ref’s intervention in the final session.
Saka barely keeps Japanese 130lb belt in a seesaw game
Hard-punching Japanese champ Kosuke Saka (22-6, 19 KOs), 130, very barely kept his national 130-pound belt when he came off the canvas twice, dropped back Tsubasa Narai (8-2, 7 KOs), 129.5, twice and finally halted him at 0:55 of the sixth session in Osaka, Japan, on September 17. The ambitious challenger had the champ on the deck in the first and fourth, but Saka retaliated with a beautifully well-timed right to floor Nara in the fifth. The champ again decked the badly hurt challenger in round six, when the ref waived it off to save the loser. Narai deserves a rematch soon.