Former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-4-1, 12) may well be considered retirement tonight after the suffered his 4th loss in 5 bouts. The Filipino was taking on Japanese youngster Ryuya Yamanaka (13-2, 3) [山中 竜也] in a bout for the vacant OPBF Minimumweight title, a title Sabillo did once hold, but he looked like an old and worn fighter through out, coming up short to the younger Yamanaka.
Sabillo started well, and had some notable success early in the bout but as the bout progressed Yamanaka built on his success and confidence seemed to grow more confidence with the youngster landing damaging body shots, and mixing up the left hook to the chin of Sabillo, who was narrowly in the lead after 4 rounds on two of the scorecards.
Having fallen behind Sabillo knew he had to change the tempo of the bout Unfortunately for the visitor he was unable to match the speed of Yamanaka and all too often appeared to be caught between ideas with Yamanaka getting his shots off and getting away before Sabillo had time to respond. That lead to Yamanaka building up a comfortable lead in the middle rounds and all 3 judges had the Japanese 21 year old in the lead going into the final 4 rounds.
In round 9 Sabillo had something of a break through, leaving Yamanaka with a cut around the left eye but he was never able to build on that success and Yamanaka regained his composure to the final bell, taking a clear unanimous decision with scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111.
For Sabillo that will probably be the end of him as an Oriental level title fighter. He is very much looking like a fighter who eithers needs to retire, or test the waters at 108lbs, where he may find a bit more success than he's having at Minimumweight. For Yamanaka the win opens up the potential to fight for a world title in 2017, something he is likely to begin chasing now he has had his first taste of title action.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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