Watanabe stops Lee, wins OPBF 154lb belt in Korea

Report, Photo by Joe Koizumi

Japanese veteran southpaw puncher Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32 KOs), 154, surprisingly captured the OPBF (Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation) super welterweight belt as he dropped taller lefty Korean champ Jung-Kyoung Lee (7-3-1, 3 KOs), 154, in the second, but had Lee retaliate to turn the tide until Watanabe finally caught the defending titlist twice en route to a dramatic stoppage at 2:37 of the tenth round in a scheduled twelve on Sunday in Seoul, Korea.
Opbf Watanabe
The Korean six-footer, 31, came off the canvas from his bad visit to the deck by the Japanese challenger’s left cross, and remarkably came back to dominate the following rounds by utilizing his advantageous height and reach. The open scoring system indicated after the eighth that Lee was ahead on points—77-74, 76-75 (for Lee), 75-76 (for Watanabe).

The Japanese, three years his senior at 34, looked slowing down with his high pace in earlier rounds, while Lee obviously took back the initiative and went forward to a successful defense on points in his first defense since his acquisition of the OPBF throne this January. Watanabe, however, exploded his power in flooring the champ with a vicious right-left southpaw combo midway in round ten. Lee very barely raised himself up and resumed fighting. It was Akinori that caught Jung-Kyoung again with a devasting overhand left, sending him to the deck on all the four—for the third time in this contest.

The Korean referee promptly called a halt to save the loser from further punishment. The crowd at the Grand Hilton Seoul gloomily watched the local favorite’s forfeiture of the regional belt under typhoon over Seoul that might prevent many people from coming to watch the highly publicized affair.

Promoter: Beatrice Kim’s T.A.P. Promotions.

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