Just moments ago we saw unified regional Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (14-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] score his biggest win to date, and retain the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Lightweight titles, with a technical decision over former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-4-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪].
The bout, which kicked off the broadcast for Ryota Murata's boyut with Gennady Golovkin, was being viewed by the two men as a must win. For Ito a loss here would leave him in an awful position, potentially even retiring given his comments before the bout, whilst Yoshino knew this was a huge chance for him to create some buzz around himself internationally and make the most of being on a global broadcast. Thankfully for fans both men delivered something really exciting, with the only bum note being the disappointing ending to the bout.
The fight started with both men jabbing, looking to find their range and settle into things. This saw both men having success at made to long range, with Yoshino's right hand being the most notable shot. After the first round however both men began to pick up the pace, and the bout regularly became something an inside war, with both men fighting tit for tat on the inside, with Michiaki Someya letting them fight with breaking them. Soemthing that seems novel to fans who are accustomed to the overly fussy refereeing seen int he west.
The action early was close, competitive with Yoshino getting the better of round 2, and Ito getting the better of round, as they fought on an almost even keel during the early rounds. Yoshino would however begin to take control in the middle rounds, using his extra power, strength and size to take the shots of Ito with out backing off, whilst landing his own, harder shots. Particularly to the body, which were aimed at slowing down Itom who was wearing the scars of battle from round 3, when his nose was busted open. Ito's facial damage would get significantly worse as the bout went on. though surprisingly it seemed to spur him on,. and he had some of his best success in the second half of the fight, and he changed his tactics slowly, began to create some space, and landed some clean right hands. It seemed, for a round or two, that he was turning things around.
Sadly just as Ito seemed to be getting a foot hold, he took a left hook that seemed to instantly mess his face up more, leaving him cut around the left eye. From there it always seemed inevitable that he wouldn't see the final bell. His face was a swollen mess. He had blood pouring from his nose, his left eye was swelling shut and he looked a genuine mess. Despite that he dug deep and continued trying to turn things his way in round 9, we took punishment, but gritted his teeth through it, and tried to break down Yoshino, who by now did look like he was enjoying this a bit too much, smiling as he went to his corner at the end of the round. In round 10 Ito finally had the doctor look at him, and there would have been no complaints, really, had the doctor stopped the bout due to the facial damage. Instead the doctor let them go on, with Ito taking more punishment through the round.
In the 11th round Yoshino seemed to be hunting a finish, and really hurt Ito fior the first time, backing him up with a nasty body shot. Ito was looking for space as he took another body blow and then, sadly, we had a clash of heads, that really left Ito a bloody, swollen mess, and forced the doctors hand. Taking us to the scorecards a round early.
With the bout being stopped in 11 rounds it was hard to make a case for Ito to be winning, despite a strong effort. He had a lot of success, but took a lot in retrurn from a man who seemed to be fighting with the intention of making a statement. Going to the scorecards, it was was clear Yoshino had done enough, and that was proven with scores of 107-102, twice, and 106-103, all in favour of Yoshino.
After the bout it seemed clear from social media that Yoshino had done what he set out to do, catch the attention of western fans, and open the door to big international fights. Fingers crossed his next bout is also given some wider attention than his earlier career bouts. As for Ito, if this is the end, we would love to say thank you to a genuine warrior, who has been in some fantastic fights over the years. His career has been a great one to follow, and it's hard to not respect what he's done, especially given his complete lack of an amateur career.
Tomorrow at the Saitama Super Arena, we'll see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪] clash with unified regional Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], in a bout for Yoshino's OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles.
Today, ahead of their bout the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout, and both fighters made weight with no issues.
On the scales Yoshino was 134.5lbs and looked in solid shape. This is among the lightest weights of his career and despite being light for him, he looked strong and in really good shape, showing he hasn't boiled down to make weight.
As for Ito, he was surprisingly the heavier man, weighing in around 134.75lbs. Despite being someone who made his name at 130lbs, he looked in great shape at the weigh in, and the move up in weight, which he made following his world title loss to Jamel Herring, appears to have been a good one for his body.
Thankfully both men also given the clear their Covid19 Anti-gen tests, with both fighters testing negative.
Related - Double champion Yoshino faces former WBO king Ito
Earlier today huge news broke from Japan, with the announcement of a monster show on April 9th at the Saitama Super Arena, featuring two world title fights, and a huge domestic clash between a former triple crown champion and a former world champion.
The headline bout was the previously scheduled Middleweight super fight between IBF Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] and WBA "Super" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太], which was originally meant to take place late last year before covid regulations forced the bout to be postponed.
At the announcement of the bout, which was a press conference in Tokyo, Murata spoke about not having had a fight for 2 years, and spoke about the strength of Golovkin, explaining that he was a great fighter and that he deserves respect. He also spoke about how he has done a lot of sparring for this bout, due to the delay, and it seemed very clear that he, and his team, have been focused on coming up with a gameplan to defeat "GGG".
Golovkin, was wasn't able to attend the press conference, shared his views on the bout, giving the following message. "I am delighted that the match has been decided. I would like to thank the Japanese organizers for their efforts in this match. Ryota Murata is wonderful. Champion. Fans in Japan and around the world will see an exciting match. We look forward to returning to the ring. And to the Japanese, the "Big Drama Show" will deliver."
The Golovkin Vs Murata bout wasn't the only world title bout announced, with WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] defending his title, for the second time, and taking on domestic challenger Ryota Yamauchi (8-1, 7) [山内涼太], himself the WBO Asia Pacific champion. This is a notable change from Nakatani's previously scheduled bout, which was supposed to be against Mexican challenger Cristian Gonzalez (14-1, 4), but that was cancelled due to Covid restrictions in Japan.
For Nakatani this is a great chance to enhance his already glowing reputation as one of the rising stars of Japanese boxing. He won his title in impressive fashion, before making his US debut last year against Angel Acosta, on ESPN. As for Yamauchi this will be his first world title fight, and comes in just his 10th profession al bout. Although the challenger is aggressive, talented and exciting, he will, quite clearly, be th eunder-dog here.
The third major bout announced for this card was a bout that was planned for the original Golovkin Vs Murata show, and that's a bout between former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪] and former Lightweight triple crown champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], in what could be the show stealing bout.
Notably the card is expected to be shown on DAZN around the world, with Amazon Prime carrying the bout in Japan, as they begin their much anticipated foray into boxing.
Earlier this month we reported that Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] had vacated the Japanese Lightweight title, rather than keep the title and make a mandatory defense in early 2022 against Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘], who earned his show by winning an eliminator back in October.
At the time it seemed like Suzuki may have ended up facing former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓] for the vacant, but Mishiro obviously has his eye on bigger fights than a Japanese title and he hasn't been interested in a show down against the unheralded Suzuki.
Instead we now know that Suzuki will face fellow unbeaten fighter Shu Utsuki (9-0, 7) [宇津木 秀] for the vacant title, with their bout now scheduled February 8th at Korakeun Hall as part of a Diamond Glove show.
For Suzuki, a former Japanese champion at 140lbs, this is a great chance for him to become a 2-weight national champion, and join the relatively small list of fighters who have moved down in weight to win titles. He's a very talented technical boxer, but there are question marks about his punching power and physicality, despite his success at 140lbs.
As for Utsuki this will be his first title fight, and the heavy handed fighter from the Watanabe Gym has been impressive, with good wins against Yoji Saito, Takayuki Sakai, Masashi Wakita and Ryo Nakai. He is less polished than Suzuki, but he has very heavy hands and he is genuinely destructive at domestic.
Earlier today we were informed that Japanese Lightweight Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] had vacated one of the three titles he held.
The unbeaten Yoshino, who had unified the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Lightweight titles, has now vacated the Japanese national title, though will continue to hold his two regional titles.
Yoshino was supposed to be in action on December 29th, with a scheduled bout against former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪], though that bout has been postponed. The plan, it seems, is to have that bout next year and vacating the Japanese title means there is one less stumbling black, as Yoshino would have had a mandatory against Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] in early 2022.
At the moment it's unclear on what date Yoshino Vs Ito will now be made for, though a Spring date is expected. As for Suzuki, it seems likely that he could be facing former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓] next year for the Japanese Lightweight title.
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