Mar. 2, 1998
TOKYO--Korakuen Hall--Fast-moving lefty YAMATO MITANI, 130, successfully kept his OPBF junior light title, as he floored highly regarded hard-puncher NOBUTOSHI HIRANAKA, also a southpaw at 130, twice--in the first and last sessions--to win a unanimous decision over 12 rounds. Scored: referee Ken Morita 117-111, judges Kodai Kumazaki and Masakazu Uchida 118-110 and 117-113 respectively, all for Mitani. The winner, 27, raised his mark to 12-3, 9 KOs. The crestfallen loser, 29, dropped to 16-3-1, 10 KOs.
It was a sensation card with each having had a world title shot twice, though unsuccessful. Mitani, the defending OPBF champ, failed to win the WBA jr. light throne, losing to Korean Yongsoo Choi twice in Tokyo. Hirakana also had unfruitful cracks at the WBA feather diadem against Eloy Rojas (L12) despite dropping the champ once, and at the WBC feather crown against Luisito Espinosa (TKO by 8), in Tagawa and Fukuoka, respectively. Hiranaka moved up to the 130-pound division to have a shot at the OPBF throne against the less experienced Mitani.
Mitani made a very fine start, as he outjabbed the slow starter, Hiranaka, and sent him sprawling to the deck with a beautiful one-two combo to the button. Hiranaka, quite groggy, barely regained his feet. He was saved by the bell. Mitani, however, didn't follow up to go for a KO, and returned to his hit-and-run (or exactly hit-and-grab) tactics. Mitani was in command thereafter except in the 4th, when Hiranaka almost stunned the champ with a solid left and went all out to catch the footworker. Mitani began to show his bad habit from the 5th, as he often clinched after hitting him. The referee deducted a point from Mitani for his repeated holding in the 10th. It became a dull fight in the second half, as Mitani kept grabbing Hiranaka to avoid his retaliations. But, in the 12th, Mitani floored him again with a southpaw right to confirm his triumph.
The winner, Mitani, is obliged to meet Filipino Joselito Rivera in his next defense by the OPBF headquarters in his next defense, since this fight was authorized under the condition that the victor should meet Rivera. Co-promoter: Misako and Kyoei Promotions. (03-02-98)
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