Rocky Fuentes Beats Mukai, Retains OPBF Crown

By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation flyweight champion Rocky Fuentes successfully defended his title for the fourth time against undefeated Japanese challenger Hirofumi Mukai at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka.The 25 year old champion from the famed ALA Gym in Cebu won by a unanimous decision to improve his record to 27-6-2 with 17 knockouts while Mukai who is the same age suffered his first setback to drop to 5-1 with no knockouts to his name.Despite having a decided height and reach advantage the 5’ 7 1/2” tall Japanese southpaw failed to overcome the much shorter Fuentes who stands 5’3”.With the win Fuentes, who is ranked by all four leading world organizations set himself in line for a possible world title shot. In fact his ranking is bound to improve following his successful title defense. Fuentes is currently ranked No. 5 by the IBF, No. 6 by the WBC, No. 7 by the WBO and No. 9 by the WBA.Fuentes won the title with a hard-fought twelve round majority decision over Masafumi Okuba on March 9, 2010 in Tokyo. He successfully defended the title in a sensational, action-packed candidate for “Fight of the Year” in Japan when he scored an 11th round TKO over Shigetaka Ikehara on June 5, 2010.Fuentes scored an 8th round TKO over another Japanese challenger Yasuto Aritomi on September 5, 2010 before demolishing Thailand’s Inthanon Sithchamuang on November 27, 2010. In his last fight, Fuentes won an eight round unanimous decision in what was seen as a disappointing performance against Indonesia’s Jemmy Gobel.Trainer Edito “Ala” Villamor, who is in Osaka with young and promising trainer Joseph Baldago, said Fuentes was in great shape and ready to score an impressive win that may soon put him in line for a world title shot. In Osaka, Fuentes worked out at the Grace Boxing Gym.Mukai scored a big win when he defeated the Philippines Sonny Boy Jaro over ten rounds on February 5, 2010 and was reportedly primed to take the title away from Fuentes but the ALA fighter rose to the challenge.Strength and conditioning coach Pio Solon told the Daily Inquirer that they had worked on Fuentes’ shoulder injury and it hadn’t bothered him during training camp. Solon said Fuentes is “also keyed in on his weight management for the first time and I’m actually happy.”Solon said the champion had told him “this is the strongest he has ever felt” and had implemented his fight strategy well during sparring sessions at the ALA Gym with boxers like Marjohn Yap.