The fight started like many, with a relatively quiet round as both men tried to figure the other out. It wasn't as quiet as many opening rounds but was certainly not an action packed round with both men having too much respect to throw caution to the wind too early. From then on however the bout got better and better, heating up from the second round and getting better as it went on.
In round 3 we saw the crazy side of Yaegashi as he tried to take the fight to Gonzalez and seemed to be on course to winning the round before being dropped late. Despite the knock down being a big one Yaegashi got up at 6 and went back to taking the action to Gonzalez who obliged him for the remaining 20 seconds or so. From then on the bout took a pattern that was some what repetitive but thoroughly entertaining. It saw both men standing in front of each other and taking it turns to unload on the other. For Yaegashi it was a case of using his fast hands to land relatively light but sharp combinations up top whilst Gonzalez stood his ground and mixed up heavy shots to the bead and body with the uppercuts punctuating the combinations.
The flurry and action from both was beautiful to watch with neither man backing down and neither man refusing to throw back through rounds 4,5,6 and 7. Even when one man was back up it wasn't long before he turned the tables and fired back in rounds that were close, competitive and action packed. It wasn't a brawl, but it was calculated aggression from both who combined skills with their assault.
Sadly for Yaegashi he began to look exhausted in round 7 and although he refused to back down his assaults were becoming less and less telling. He was beginning to break down and his face, which is always susceptible to swelling, was beginning to show signs of the battle he was in. Gonzalez was slowing himself though was becoming more dominant due to Yaegashi's problems.
Although the Japanese fighter had looked tired in round 7 he ended round 8 looking completely exhausted and Gonzalez seemed to be able to smell blood. The toe-to-toe action was becoming less frequent with Gonzalez gradually beating up Yaegashi who was forced on to the retreat just to stay up right. Gonzalez, like a hunter, knew his pray was wounded though couldn't see off Yaegashi who relied on his toughness and heart to see the bell. Although Gonzalez hadn't managed to take Yaegashi down the referee went down towards the end of the round, just as it seemed that Yaegashi was canvas bound. It was a clear slip from the referee though still mildly amusing.
In round 9 Yaegashi came out like a man possessed and unloaded a long series of shots on Gonzalez. It was as if the Japanese fighter knew it was now or never and that he wasn't going to last much longer. It was his last charge towards victory though he hit a brick wall and Gonzalez fired back. The men exchanged combinations though Yaegashi quickly became ragged and his work coming undone quickly. This time Yaegashi had run out of steam too early in the round and Gonzalez knew it as he turned it on and a vicious combination sent down Yaegashi. The Japanese fighter seemed to think about getting up though the referee knew better and stopped the bout. It was as if both men knew there was only going to be one result if Yaegashi did get up, and that was that he was going to go back down.
Sadly for Yaegashi this brings his reign as WBC Flyweight champion to an end after 3 successful defences. It did however come to an end at one of the sports truly elite fighters and a man who seemed to show all the traits of a great. Not only is Gonzalez a fine fighter, he's also a fine young man, a credit to boxing and the human race and as shown in the post fight celebration, a truly respectful fighter. A fighter who encompasses the lost mentality of being a good sport as well as a great sportsman.
The fight wasn't our favourite bout of the year though it certainly deserves to be put on a short list for FOTY alongside the recent contest between Katsunari Takayama and Francisco Rodriguez Jr, both of whom have been Gonzalez victims in the past, and the OPBF Flyweight war between Koki Eto and Ardin Diale. In fairness however both of those fights did lack the skill level shown in here even if they were slightly more action packed.
(Image courtesy of http://boxingnews.jp)