So far it's been a good year for those associated with the Ioka Boxing gym. They've seen their star man Kazuto Ioka create history by becoming the "quickest" 3 weight world champion whilst both Sho Ishida and Masayoshi Nakatani have managed to retain their titles with successful defenses.
Today the Ioka gym had another reason to celebrate as the hard hitting Takahiro Yamamoto (16-4, 13) claimed the biggest win of his career so far and stopped Yu Kawaguchi (23-7, 10) to claim the OPBF Bantamweight title, avenge his most recent defeat and announce himself as a serious player in one of the most stacked divisions in boxing.
Earlier this year fans in Osaka saw the two men collide in a sensational bout that saw Kawaguchi claim a split decision win to win the title. The win for Kawaguchi was a crowning moment for the Green Tsuda gym who had gotten their first champion in a long time. Sadly for Kawaguchi this immediate rematch didn't go so well for him with the heavy handed Yamamoto fighting with something to prove.
With something to prove Yamamoto started fast and the quick start saw both men being dropped in the first 3 rounds. Those knockdowns left the scores at 37-37 on all 3 cards when they were announce following the 4th round. Whilst the bout was even it was Yamamoto's style of fight and his power was taking it's toll on Kawaguchi who suffered cuts as a result of taking some painful looking shots, as well as a headclash.
The blood on Kawaguchi seemed to spur on Yamamoto who dropped the defending champion towards the end of round 7. With that knockdown the referee had seen enough and stopped Kawaguchi who lost the title in his first defense.
For Yamamoto this is a real break out win though he likely has a target on his back that numerous fighters will be looking at. He's now a possible target for the likes of Shohei Omori, the current Japanese champion, Ryo Matsunmoto, who may view Yamamoto as a good test before a possible world title bout, or a Filipino contender like Allie Laurel. For now however the champion will, rightfully, celebrate the best win of his career.
(Image courtesy of the Ioka blog)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!