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KJ Cataraja bags OPBF crown, braces for crack at world title

Feb 13, 2023

ASPIRATIONS. KJ Cataraja aims to get a shot at a world title.

Alvin S. Go/Rappler

KJ Cataraja preserves his spotless record with a unanimous decision win over compatriot Edward Heno for the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation super flyweight belt

Unbeaten KJ Cataraja found Edward Heno tough to crack and settled for a unanimous decision in clinching the vacant Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) super flyweight championship on Saturday, February 11, at the Oval Plaza Gym in General Santos City.

Banking on a strong start built upon his jabs and right straight, Cataraja prevailed via scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 118-110 that hardly reflected how the 12-rounder proceeded.

In fact, the pride of Tabuelan, Cebu, got rocked in the sixth round and barely survived a furious assault from Heno in the ninth to post his 16th straight win.

Heno, proving he is a lot stronger than his current 15-2-6 record, wobbled Cataraja with a left upper followed by a hook in the ninth round but was unable to deck the ZIP Sanman Boxing Stable prospect despite a barrage of heavy punches.

Cataraja spent the 10th round recovering his footing as Heno continued his attack and got tagged again before the 11th round ended.

By the 12th, however, Cataraja was back in his element and was the clear winner over Heno, who also landed a crisp left straight and several power punches in the sixth round.

The victory improved the 27-year-old Cataraja’s chances of earning a world title bid within the year.

Cataraja, who has sparred several times with Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue, former three-division world champion Kosei Tanaka, former four-division world champion Donnie Nietes, and former two-division world champion Johnriel Casimero, is rated No. 6 by the World Boxing Organization and No. 13 by the International Boxing Federation.

He also stands to break into the World Boxing Council 115-pound rankings.

In the chief support of the card staged by Sanman Promotions of JC Manangquil, International Boxing Organization flyweight champion Dave Apolinario mastered Indonesian Frengky Rohi via a technical knockout in the second round to stretch his win streak to 18 with 13 knockouts. Rohi dropped to 8-12-1.

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