By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat, Joe Koizumi

Japanese veteran Akihiro Kondo (26-6-1, 13 KOs), 139.75, impressively acquired the WBO ASPAC (Asia Pacific) junior welterweight belt when he had durable Filipino Jeffrey Arienza (15-5-1, 9 KOs), 139, staggering, followed it up hard and scored a fine TKO victory at 1:20 of the eleventh round on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. Kondo celebrated the inauguration of the very first WBO ASPAC title bout ever held in Japan since the regional championship was approved in Japan this August. It was a crowd-pleasing competitive contest, where they kept swapping punches incessantly toe-to-toe from the outset until the referee Nakamura’s intervention. Arienza, a persistent southpaw, maintained the pressure to the elusive Kondo, who utilized faster footwork and rained solid combinations to the midsection and to the face, piling up points steadily. The eighth saw both sustain a cut—Kondo over the right eyebrow and Arienza from the left optic.

In the fatal eleventh, Kondo caught up with the fading Arienza and exploded a solid right hook to the face to have him retreating to the ropes. Quickly swarming over him with a flurry of punches, Kondo attempted to finish the affair then and there, when the ref wisely called a halt. The official tallies after the tenth were as follows: Surat and Mekin (both from Thailand) both 97-93, Harada (Japan) 99-91, all for Kondo who displayed his best form, regaining the belt since he took the Japanese national 135-pound belt six years ago. Leon Panoncillo (US), the WBO ASPAC supervisor, jubilantly said, “It’s a very good fight and it was also good that the crowd enjoyed such a hard-fought contest. We express our heart-felt congratulations to the Japan’s first WBO ASPAC champion Kondo.”
Promoter: Ichiriki Promotions.

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By Joe Koizumi –
Photos by Boxing Beat –

There is a proverb in Japan that no one can compete with a crying baby, but it might be true that no sports can compete with the Olympic Games. People here are only talking about how many medals our representatives have acquired—forgetting professional boxing for a while. But this summer we have seen some significant progress in the Sweet Science in this country, where the WBO Asia Pacific championship was duly recognized by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA; the union of club owners the president of which is Hitoshi Watanabe) after their prolonged consideration and discussion among prudent members on August 5. Unlike in other counties, our Japanese fraternity has been so traditional and stubborn in regulating regional championships that the JBC/JPBA had been only recognizing the belts of the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) and the WBC Youth championships.



In Japan, you are not allowed to have a world title shot to any of the four organizations such as the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO without being or once having been (1) Japanese national, (2) OPBF or (3) WBO Asia Pacific champions. That’s for the sake of quality control of world championships. In this regard, it is very meaningful that Japanese boxers aiming to gain the world championship—when staged in Japan—will be able to increase their possibility of a world title shot by winning the WBO Asia Pacific belt.

The historically first WBO Asia Pacific title bout will take place with the vacant lightweight belt at stake between Japan’s Akihiro Kondo and Filipino Jeffrey Arienza over twelve rounds in Tokyo on September 13. On the next day, a couple of WBO Asia Pacific title bouts will follow as the vacant junior lightweight belt will disputed by Japan’s Takuya Watanabe and Indonesian Musa Letding, and the also vacant middleweight title by Japanese compatriots Hikaru Nishida and Makoto Fuchigami also at the Hall. It is Leon Panoncillo, the president of the WBO regional jurisdiction, that will supervise all the title bouts here in Tokyo. It is good that they will be staged after the Olympic Games in Brazil since our people will remember the existence and value of boxing.