By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Former OPBF super-light champ Keita Obara (18-2-1, 16 KOs), 146.5, quickly acquired the vacant WBO Asia Pacific (ASPAC) welterweight belt when he dropped former world-rated Thailander Narong Boonchan (previously fighting as Saddam Kietyongyuth; 26-3, 21 KOs), 146, and halted him at 2:43 of the second session in a scheduled twelve on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan.
Having been dispatched by Eduard Troyanovsky in two rounds with the IBF 140-pound belt at stake in Russia last September, Obara engaged in his second comeback bout and displayed his superior power in disposing of the 34-year-old Thailander, who made a return to the ring after a hiatus for four years and a half in June of the previous year and scored 3-1 with three stoppages since.
The first round witnessed the aggressive Thailander stalking the circling Japanese all the way, winning a point. The 5’10” muscular Obara, however, mixed it up and connected with solid combinations to the face of the Thailander, who hit the deck and wobblingly stood up to resume fighting. Obara swarmed over the fading Thailander with a barrage of punches, when the referee Fukuchi made a well-received a stoppage to save the loser from further punishment. Obara jubilantly said, “I’ll pursue the world belt either in the 140-pound or 147-pound category.”
In a semi-windup ten, Japanese super-welter champ, unbeaten Takeshi Inoue (11-0-1, 6 KOs), 154, kept his national belt as he proved too aggressive for Riku Nagahama (7-1-1, 3 KOs), 153.25, prompting the referee’s intervention at 1:52 of the eighth round. Nagahama might be a harder puncher than the champ, but he was too stiff and tense to throw punches smoothly, while the shorter champ came close to his challenger with a high peek-a-boo guard and connected with short solid combinations. It became lopsided with the champ so freely battering the challenger that the referee called a halt in the champ’s initial defense.