Yaegashi, defending his WBC Flyweight title for the second time, following a rare "dull" fight in his first defense, knew he was in for a tough night as soon as Sosa become the mandatory challenger.
Sosa, a one time Light Flyweight champion had earned his shot at Yaegashi the hard way, beating other top contenders including Ulises "Archie" Solis and Giovani Segura. This wasn't a Mexican getting a WBC title fight just because he was Mexican, but because he had earned, something that now appears to be forgotten in the world of boxing.
In the first 2 rounds it appeared that earning his fight had taken something out of Sosa who started slowly losing the first two rounds to the faster Yaegashi. Although they were close rounds, fought almost as a chess match, the Japanese fighter seemed to do enough in both to claim them with his slightly better work.
Many, including ourselves, had expected this to be a war. The first couple of rounds may not have looked like the beginning of a war but they were merely the calm before the storm and in round 3 the action caught fire with Sosa starting to connect with his right hand. If Sosa could draw Yaegashi into a war, something that Yaegashi has been known for, then there was much better chance for Sosa and this proved to be the case in round 4 as the Mexican began to grow more and more into the fight.
Although the WBC open scoring had Yaegashi unanimously in the lead with scores of 40-36 and 39-35 twice, it was obvious the fight was slowly turning in the favour of the Mexican challenger. Not just was the style of the fight turning his way but Yaegashi's face was showing signs of battle and puffing up from the right hands that Sosa was starting to land and he seemed to be bretahing much heavier than Sosa.
Yaegashi's case wasn't helped by the fact he was boxing so much off the back foot. This made it look like Sosa was in charge of the action. Sure the Mexican was forcing the fight, but he wasn't managing to get enough success to force Yaegashi to hold his feet that often. Instead Yaegashi controlled the distance and circled before picking his spots to trying and counter Sosa.
By the end of round 7 we were starting to see both men trading shots on a more regular basis. Yaegashi was still using his feet to a great effect but was being forced to answer back when Sosa was having success. This gave us some moments of great action as both men landed bombs on the other. It was in those short exchanges that the hand speed difference between the two men was notable with Yaegashi popping out 3 or 4 punches in a flurry whilst Sosa loaded up with a power shot.
Although we felt Sosa had certainly taken a number of rounds in the middle the WBC judges didn't seem that impressed by the fact he was forcing the fight. After 8 rounds the open scoring had Yaegashi winning 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75. Whilst we had Yaegashi winning Sosa had easily done enough in rounds 3, 6 and 8 to have gotten at least 2 rounds on the board.
Going in to the championship rounds all Yaegashi had to do, at least for 2 of the judges, was stay on his feet. Sosa was in desperate need of a KO if he was to dethrone the Japanese champion.
Unfortunately for Sosa his slow pressure wasn't having the effect on Yaegashi that he'd have been hoping. Yaegashi, despite looking tired between rounds, seemed to have boundless energy in the ring. His movement continued to leave Sosa chasing shadows and whilst it was certainly negative in parts from the champion Yaegashi made up for it when he did hold his feet and let his lightning bursts go.
By the final bell it had become a game of cat and mouse with Sosa the the catand Yaegashi the mouse. The mouse in this case was simply too fast for the cat to catch and in fact the by the end the eye catching connects appeared to be coming from Yaegashi on the counter.
With the open scoring making it obvious after 8 rounds that Yaegashi had won there was no shock when his hand was raised and the scores officially announced after 12 rounds. Unfortunately this a poor example of how the WBC opening scoring system should work. The scores were "wrong" after 8, had they reflect the close nature and all read around 77-75 (with a round either way) then their would have been drama. As it was however, the result was a forgone conclusion.
Interestingly the judge that had given Yaegashi the first 8 rounds appears to have given Sosa 3 of the last 4, as the official cards read 117-111 twice and 116-112. Unfortunately the scorecards will likely over-shadow what was a good fight with the right winner.
The biggest problem, for Sosa, wasn't the fact he was fighting in Japan, or even the judging. Instead it was his age. At 34 years old he simply lacked the speed, reflexes and movement to force Yaegashi to trade with him more. Had Sosa been able to make a total war of this he may well have won. Instead Sosa could only force some skirmishes and after those Yaegahi could get back on his bike and rack up rounds with his movement and pot shotting.