lick-punching Takanori Hatakeyama, 135, impressively kept
his WBA lightweight belt, as he gamely mixed up with hard-hitting compatriot
Hiroyuki Sakamoto, 135, put on a grueling fight and finally caught him with
a well-timed right to score a fine KO victory at 0:18 into the 10th round.
Everyone admitted that it was one of the best fights ever seen in Japan.
Both contestants exchanged what they had, incessantly swapping punches from
the outset to the end.
Scored after the 9th: Jesus Cova (Venezuela) 87-85, Pinit Prayadsab
(Thailand) and Ken Morita (Japan) both 88-84, all for Hatakeyama, 24-1-2, 19
KOs. Sakamoto, who absorbed much punishment, dropped to 35-5, 25 KOs.
Referee was Masakazu Uchida (Japan).
Sakamoto, a crouching stylist known by his trade-mark left hook with which
he had produced many clean knockouts, showed a good start, attacking the
champ with fast and solid combinations in the opening canto though he
sustained a gash at the left eyebrow caused by the champ's shot.
Hatakeyama, who had dethroned Venezuelan Gilberto Serrano on an 8th round
demolition last June, didnft utilize his vaunted footwork but responded to
his rival's favorite infighting to show his gameness.
Hatakeyama was in command in the third through the 5th as he often scored
overhand rights with better precision than Sakamoto who wildly kept punching
outside of the champ's tight guard.
Sakamoto, in his 4th crack at the world 135-pound title, turned more
aggressive in the 6th, winning a point with a barrage of punches to the
champ who began to use his footwork.
The champ, however, took three rounds from the 7th, scoring effective right
counters and right crosses to the fading foe. Sakamoto kept fighting back
with powerful but less accurate hooks from outside, but obviously absorbed
much punishment with the champ's frequent overhand rights.
The fatal 10th saw Hatakeyama land a very solid right and send him sprawling
to the deck. A towel came fluttering into the ring from the loser's corner
while the referee was still counting against the flattened boxer. (It is
registered as a KO here in Japan, when the cornerman tosses in the towel
while the referee's counting.)
It must be definitely Japan's Fight of the Year, or Fight of the Decade,
since they showed their best in persistently exchanging hot rallies
toe-to-toe. What they displayed wasn't only their power, speed and skill,
but also their fighting heart that greatly moved all the crowd.
Lefty speedster Kazuhiro Ryuko, 114 3/4, won the vacant OPBF super-fly title
when his single southpaw right hook sank Indonesian champ Kid Hamzah, 115,
at 0:58 of the second round. Japanese champ Ryuko, 12-1-3, 4 KOs, gained
another belt with his fine KO of the highly regarded Indonesian, 22-6-3, 8
OPBF #1 ranked minimum Yutaka Niida, 105, dug a wicked body shot to the
belly of Filipino Boy Pandeen, 105, and polished him off at 2:09 of the
opening canto in a scheduled 8. Niida, Hatakeyama's stablemate, ran his
unbeaten mark to 12-0-2, 6 KOs. The Filipino reportedly dipped to 5-2-2, 2
Promoter: Kazunori Miyakawa's Yokohama Hikari Promotions in association
with Akihiko Honda's Teiken Promotions.
WBA supervisor: Gilberto Jesus Mendoza.