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18 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Marc Livitz

Obara Wins Eye Test But Judges See Different

By Marc Livitz: Keita Obara may have waited a while to do so, but he soon made sure that his United States debut was a memorable one. For the most part, he dominated Walter Castillo but had to leave the ring with a majority draw in an entertaining super lightweight eliminator bout. Obara (16-1-1, 14 KO’s) was perhaps looking to shake off the nerves of fighting for the first time outside of his native Japan by way of his aggressive nature early on. He used his rangy left jab while Castillo (26-4, 19 KO’s) occasionally looked to counter with his left hook whenever his 28 year old opponent from Tokyo threw his right hand. Walter let his gloves fly in the opening moments of the second. He landed his left hook and followed up with his right to the head and looked to work Obara into a corner.


Keita tried to pick up the pace in an entertaining round three. His left hook connected a few times but the two combatants spent a while in clinches. Each man scored a handful of good shots upstairs. Obara used the entirety of the ring in the fourth in between landing his left jab and right follow up. The tactics seemed to irritate Castillo as he began to open up a bit more. Walter doubled up his jab midway through the fifth but Obara would consistently return the favor with his jab over the top. He seemed to be thinking through his shots and was precise in delivery.


Castillo was still competitive but a noticeable contrast between the two fighters was clearly evident. Obara landed a hard right and his Nicaraguan adversary answered with a left hook despite a busted lip and cut over his right eye as the sixth came to a close. As the second half of the scheduled twelve rounds began to roll, Obara appeared to have made the necessary adjustments to be in control of the contest. The Japanese fighter was aging like a fine wine and wasn’t slowing down at all.

Snapping jabs flew from each side to begin round eight. A solid right jostled Castillo’s head about a minute into the period. Keita was masterfully controlling the distance in the fight and managed to get out of the way of Walter’s efforts while almost connecting at will. Relaxed and at ease, Obara was dictating the pace of the contest, although Castillo did get his attention early on in the ninth with a few hard shots up high. That didn’t last long.


The tenth was much of the same. Walter Castillo showed heart but his shots were being blocked by his foe from the far east. His punches were high, looping and inaccurate. The bout was halted for a moment in the first thirty seconds of the eleventh round. A ringside doctor took a long look at Castillo’s right eye and allowed the contest to continue. He landed a good right with about a minute to spare, yet Obara quickly answered. Walter appeared severely gassed and his right eye was beginning to run red with blood.


Walter’s left ear was a point of interest during the minute break before the last round. As before, he was allowed to fight on and did his best to take the action to Obara. He didn’t look to be in a rush as he jabbed and continued to look for a swing to the fences. Keita didn’t take the last round off, either and kept on doing as he had done. As the last twenty seconds dwindled away, each fighter landed a parting shot just before the bell sounded.


Keita Obara appeared to have been the victor, however the inability or lack of eagerness to close the show likely cost him tonight. One ringside judge scored the 115-113 for Obara, while the other two turned in identical numbers of 114-114. The bout ended in a majority draw.



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November 7, 2015







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