After a bloody, entertaining 12-round war, THE RING flyweight championship will remain in Japan. The only change is that it will leave Tokyo with Akira Yaegashi (17-3, 9 knockouts), of Yokohama, after the 30-year-old former WBA 105-pound titleholder pulled off a minor upset in defeating incumbent champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (17-2-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision at the Ryoguko Kokugikan. The scores were 115-110, 116-109 and 117-108.
Yaegashi, who lost his portion of the 105-pound title in a thrilling unification battle with Kazuto Ioka last year, jumped out to an early lead against the reticent Igarashi, 29, who was defending the title he won in a controversial split-decision victory over Sonny Boy Jaro last year. Yaegashi lost a point in round five due to the WBC’s accidental headbutt rule, and in the following round each lost another point for another accidental infraction.
The loss of vision from the cuts inhibited Igarashi’s ability to utilize his jab and superior boxing abilities, ultimately costing him his title.
In the co-featured bout, WBC bantamweight titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka scored a 12th-round stoppage over experienced contender Malcolm Tunacao. The end came at 1:57 of the final stanza, after a four-punch combination punctuated by a left cross put the resilient Philippine native Tunacao on his back. Tunacao rose up, but with the right side of his face covered in blood, referee Michael Griffin thought better of it and halted the fight.
The 30-year-old Yamanaka (18-0-2, 13 KOs) set the tempo in round three, dropping the 35-year-old challenger twice and opening up a nasty cut. Tunacao (32-3-3, 20 KOs), who briefly held the WBC flyweight title over a decade ago, continued to fight valiantly, knowing this may be his last shot at winning a second world title.
Since winning the title in November of 2011 with an 11th round stoppage of Christian Esquivel, only Vic Darchinyan has lasted the distance in Yamanaka’s three title defenses.
And, in another victory for Japanese compatriots, Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19 KOs) ended the Cinderella ride of Mexican brawler Gamaliel Diaz (37-10-2, 17 KOs), knocking him down in the third, sixth, seventh and ninth rounds to capture the WBC super featherweight title. Referee Laurence Cole stopped the fight at the 1:21 mark of the ninth round, ending Diaz’s title reign in his first defense since upsetting Takahiro Ao in October to win the title.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda