The first of two world title fights on "Ring of Gold" saw the WBC Flyweight title up for grabs as Japan's exciting Akira Yaegashi put his belt on the line against Mexican challenger Odilon Zaleta. This bout was the third successive contest for Yaegashi against a Mexican challenger, having beaten both Oscar Blanquet and Edgar Sosa by decision. On paper it was an easier contest than either of those, though there was the worry that Yaegashi had taken his eye off the ball with the lure of a Roman Gonzalez fight just around the corner. He claimed he was fully focused on Zaleta but with a Gonzalez bout looming you could understand a fighter losing focus just a bit.
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Early in the bout it did look a little like Yaegashi had perhaps not focused his training on Zaleta. The Mexican challenger was finding his feet early and through 4 rounds seemed to look the more comfortable of the fighters. This was reglected on the open scoring which had Zaleta even on 2 cards and ahead, 39-37, on the third.
Having realised that Zaleta had come to win Yaegashi made necessary adjustments in the middle portion of the bout and began to cut the distance more effectively in round 5. This change in tactics seemed to leave Zaleta coming off second best as Yaegashi started to show the difference in class between the two fighters.
By the start of round 9 it was easy to forget the good start of Zaleta's with Yaegashi starting to really control the fight. This was no longer a case of determined challenger looking good against a champion who was over-looking him. Instead this was a champion looking to make an impression.
An impression is exactly what Yaegashi made midway through round 9 as he dropped Zaleta to his knees. The Mexican was then counted out by British referee Ian John Lewis giving Yaegashi his first stoppage victory since winning the Flyweight title almost exactly a year ago.
This victory improves Yaegashi's record to 20-3 (10) whilst Zaleta, who suffers his 3rd loss in 4 contests, falls to 15-4 (8).
After the bout Yaegashi then turned the attention to the much mentioned super fight with unbeaten Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez, who was also on the card. Yaegashi seemed to acknowledge that that would be a difficult bout though said that he wanted to do his best and seemed to almost welcome the challenge of Gonzalez.
Whilst no date has yet been set for Yaegashi v Gonzalez we are expecting it in either July or August. Over the last 12 months Yaegashi has fought every 4 months and looking at what Gonzalez had to do earlier today we can't imagine him needing to spend long out of the ring, so it looks almost certain that we will have a brilliant Flyweight super fight at the end of summer!