Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had a thriller as domestic Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (28-8, 7) [石本 康隆] retained his title with a clear, but exciting, win over mandatory challenger Yosuke Fujihara (16-4, 4) [藤原 陽介].
From the off the bout was fought in a great atmosphere, with both fighters bringing very vociferous fan bases. The opening round saw Fujihara's fans being the nosier of the two with their man giving a great account of himself and landing a number of solid power shots, that intensified the noises from his supporters. In the second round it was Ishimoto's backers who were louder with the champion scoring a flash knockdown very early in the round.
The knockdown could easily have dented Fujihara's desire, but instead he tried to turn the fight into a war and through out it seemed like he was the man with the more potent fire power. Unfortunately that power was something that didn't have the skills to make the most of as Ishimoto managed to out land him and bag the rounds.
After 5 rounds the champion was was in a comfortable 49-45 lead, but Fujihara was still in the fight and the champion knew it.
Rather than letting Fujihara get a foot hold Ishimoto came out aggressive in round 6 and 7, but both men were left with cuts, with each cut from punching and each cut from what looked to be an accidental headclash. None of the cuts were deemed so bad as to need the bout to be stopped, but both men were taken to the doctor, who wiped the blood away.
Despite the cuts both men still seemed to have plenty of fight left, and round 8 saw both have success. Sadly for Fujihara he was punished the following round, with Ishimoto hammering a tired looking challenger, and scoring a second knockdown. It furthered strengthened the champion's grip on the bout and although Fujihara tried to fight back he was looking like a man who was all in.
The final round was one of the more quiet, Ishimoto began fast but seemed happy to ease off knowing that he had made his point and secured his first defense of the title, that he won late last year in his third attempt.
Following the bout a happy Ishimoto stated that he was wanting to get a world title fight. It seems unlikely that he'll get one, but with his WBO ranking there is certainly a chance. For Fujihara this was too much of a step up, but given the way he fought it seems likely he will be able to bounce back, and could well end up claiming the title in the future.
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