by Joe Koizumi

Apr. 13, 1998
TOKYO, JAPAN--Korakuen Hall--Upcoming TAKEO IMAOKA, 126, stunned the crowd as he impressively but a bit too quickly blasted out ATSUSHI TAMAKI, a veteran compatriot, 126, at 2:42 of the opening round in a scheduled 12 to retain his OPBF featherweight title. Imaoka, a lanky hard-puncher, exploded a wicked straight right, dropping Tamaki for the compulsory 8 count. The champ turned loose with a flurry of punches following a left hook, flooring him again. Referee Shimakawa didn't hesitate to call a halt upon the loser's visit to the deck. (This result was registered as a KO, not a TKO, because the loser was obviously unable to beat the count.) WBC #9 ranked feather Imaoka raised his credentials to 20-3, 11 KOs. Tamaki, who had previously outlegged and upset Philippine champ Joe Escriber last Oct., fell to 23-9-6, 7 KOs

This reporter was the matchmaker of this regional title bout and expected it to be a much better and longer fight, since Tamaki was a good jabber and excellent footwork, if not a hard-hitter. But Imaoka's long right hand caught the challenger's face so effectively that he stood up rubbery-legged only to hit the deck again with the champ's follow-up. Tamaki is an unfortunate boy who failed to win a title on 4 occasions--losing to Koji Matsumoto twice in 1992 and 1995 and being stopped by Takashi Koshimoto on his own gash in 1996. for Tamaki, this shocking defeat may be his swan song.

It was Imaoka's first defense since he captured the OPBF throne, dropping the defending champ Samuel Duran twice en route to a unanimous nod in Tokyo last Nov. Imaoka will face ex-champ Duran here in his second defense in Jul. It will be a grudge fight.

In a semi-final 10, Yasuki Matsuda, 118, floored Toshihiro Naito, 118, with a vicious right cross and sent him sprawling to the deck with a left hook following a right, stopping him at 1:18 of the 2nd round.
Promoter: Saida Promotions.

Joe Koizumi
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