Just moments ago Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Rikki Naito (11-0, 5) record the second defense of the Japanese Super Featherweight title as he over-came the challenge of Shingo Eto (14-3-1, 9) with a clear decision.
The bout didn't always look easy for Naito who struggled early on as Eto managed to time the champion early on and actually bust the nose of Naito. Despite the nice success early on for Eto it was Naito who was winning the rounds, with his speed and punch-selection being the key between the two men. By the 5th round the open scoring had Naito well in the lead as he managed to find his timing and rhythm and neutralise all the early success of Eto.
Eto, knowing he was behind in round 6, picked up the pace but was unable to clearly win the 6th round. Round 7 however was an Eto round as he got Naito on the ropes and unleashed a torrent of shots. For the one and only time in the bout Naito looked in trouble as Eto let his shots go and had success.
Unfortunately for Eto his success was short lived and through rounds 8 and 9 Naito managed to re-establish his game plan and win both rounds. That left Eto needing a KO in the final round but it never came, despite both letting shots go through the 10 round as Naito took a few extra risks in an attempt to excite the fans. By then however the fight was sealed and Naito had done enough whilst also learning the Eto didn't have the power to trouble him.
When the scorecards were read there was little argument over the scores which favoured Naito by scores of 98-92, 98-93, 98-93.
Although Naito was successful here in a national title defenses there are still question marks over where he "really ranks" on the Japanese domestic scene. It's clear he's several levels behind world champions Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura and there is of course real doubt that he'd beat former champion Daiki Kaneko. We'd also imagine that Naito may not be able to over-come Masayuki Ito, another very talented Japanese fighter at 130lbs and Masao Nakamura cannot possibly ignored from the mix courtesy of his thunderous power. The only thing that is clear it that Japanese fans have to be very excited about the action and fighters at Super Featherweight because there is a serious amount of depth there.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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