The bout saw the in form Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13) [有川 稔男] enter as the defending champion as he took on mandatory challenger Ryota Yada (15-4, 12) [矢田良太] in a bout that had excitement written all over it. That excitement proved to be the case as soon as the two men stepped in the ring.
The challenger started fast. He looked like he was there to make a statement Arikawa was forced to respond and did so with power, but couldn't match Yada's tempo. Yada's tempo continued to dictate the tempo in round 2 and 3 to help him build a lead that Arikawa tried to real back in the following rounds. Although he stepped up the tempo Arikawa was behind when the scores were announced after 5 rounds, 48-47 across the board.
Going in to the second half of the fight it looked like Arikawa was shifting the momentum in his favour, thanks in part to some big body shots in round 5.
Arikawa continued to grow in round 6, as Yada slowed down, but it wans't long until Yada showed there was stiff life in his legs with a thrilling back and forth in round 7. That back and forth continued in round 8 until a brutal combination dropped Arikawa in round 8. He recovered to his feet but was stopped soon afterwards.
After the bout Yada stated that his win was down to the intense training he's been doing recently, 10 hours a day. It was clear that he had to grit his teeth through out the bout and really battle his way through some very serious scares. As for Arikawa he seemed unsure on his future, and it does now seem like retirement is on his mind.
It now seems likely that Yada will be defending his title later this year against another puncher, Yuki Beppu (17-0-1, 17) [別府 優樹], who was in the crowd for this bout and spoke highly of Yada, but showed confidence that he could beat the new champion.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)