When we talk about Japanese fan favourites fer really rival the always fun to watch Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) [八重樫 東] who has been in some of the most memorable wars staged in Japanese rings over the last 5 or 6 years. Today he was in another thriller as he successfully defended his IBF Light Flyweight title with a split decision win against the against the exciting and determined Mexican warrior Martin Tecuapetla (13-7-3, 10).
The bout, picked by some as likely to be the fight of the weekend, lived up to the expectation of being an action packed war, with the fight being thoroughly exciting from the off. The opening round saw both having their moments, with Yaegasghi probably just edging the round on his slightly sharper shots.
In the second round Tecuapetla began to warm to the task and brought the fight to Yaegashi in what turned out to be the beginning of a number of very fun rounds between the two men. From the second round to the 5th round Tecupetla brought the action and made the fight his fight, whilst Yaegashi seemed to look somewhat leggy and almost as if he had over-trained.
Despite struggling through some of those earlier rounds Yaegashi began to find his rhythm in round 6, tagging the body of Tecuapetla with ease and he began to get out of the wheel house rather than remain in front of the Mexican. It suddenly seemed like Yaegashi had found his leg, had found his bounce and had found his energy as he began to get in and out, using his excellent speed to make Tecuapetla look like a brave but limited brawler.
In rounds 7 and 8 Yaegashi continued to use his speed and and avoid too many exchanges when he didn't need to engage in a war. By round 9 however the warrior spirit began to kick in and Yaegashi again decided to fight with a fighter, with the final seconds of the round being particularly exciting. That fighting continued in round 10 with Tecuapetla having some real success with his thudding shots and spiteful combinations. Yaegashi wasn't beaten up through the round but there were worrying signs for the Japanese fighter who's face began to show it's familiar swelling around his left eye.
The warring continued in round 11 with Yaegashi this time getting the better of it with his accurate shots and incredibly sharp combinations using Tecuapetla's head as a speed ball. The crowd fed from their hero's success cheering loudly as Tecuapetla was beaten into a shell for much of the round before gritting his teeth in the final seconds. By the final round both were looking like they were fighting on will power alone, and it was amazing they were both capable of standing toe-to-toe just letting shots go at an insane pace. It was a round that seemed to be better for the challenger than the champion, but it was a round that was really won by the crowd who get a 3 minute treat.
Given the fight's close rounds it was clear the cards could be all over the place. Yaegashi's face a swollen mess and Tecuapetla looking like a man who had fought like he was involved in a 15 rounder.
At the end the champion had done enough through the middle stages to claim the win, with scores of 115-113 and 116-113 in his favour whilst the third judge scored the bout 115-113 to Tecuapetla. Despite the win for Yaegashi this performance likely puts a target on his back for other top Light Flyweights who may view him as a man coming to the end of his fantastic career.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.