Japanese Roundup: A New King

By Matt McGrain on April 8, 2013
Japanese Roundup: A New King
Today in Tokyo, Akira Yaegashi remained in range and out-slugged his bigger opponent.

The new king is the brilliant Akira Yaegashi who assaulted, outworked and outfought champion Toshiyuki Igarashi in Tokyo…

A busy week in Japanese boxing crested with the crowning of a new Transnational Boxing Champion in a flyweight division otherwise in utter turmoil after Saturday’s brutalization of Brian Viloria by Juan Francisco Estrada.

The new king is the brilliant Akira Yaegashi (17-3) who assaulted, outworked and outfought champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (17-2) this afternoon in Tokyo, Japan. Yaegashi has moved up two weights from strawweight to 112 lbs. after his failed attempt to beat out wunderkind Kazuto Ioka and he looked very much the smaller man in the ring when he and natural fly Igarashi met ring center. Igarashi was perhaps regarded as one of the more suspect undisputed champions in boxing, having taken the title from the unorthodox but limited Sonny Boy Jaro, who was himself viewed somewhat uncertainly after his vanquishing of the apparently faded legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. In fact, Igarashi is a gifted if conservative boxer, talented at controlling the range and although something of a perfectionist when it comes to picking punches, seemingly had the tools to control at least some of the action against the smaller Yaegashi. It was not to be. In a bloody affair, Yaegashi, who seemed the more robust of the two from the very first seconds, remained in range and out-slugged his bigger opponent seemingly close to stopping him by the end of a torrid twelve rounds.

The now ex-champion ended the fight smothered in his own blood, Yaegashi crowned the new king by unanimous scores of 115-110, 116-109, 117-108.

On the same card, the #8 ranked super-featherweight Gamaliel Diaz (falling to 37-10-2) was repeatedly dropped and eventually battered into submission by the previously unranked Japanese Takashi Miura. Diaz is a veteran of almost fifty fights and has fought a career that has taken him all over the world and seen him stopped on several other occasions, but the now former strapholder was no pushover and visits to the canvas in the third, sixth, seventh and ninth rounds apparently confirm that the division has a new puncher as well as a new contender. Miura’s next move will be intriguing. He now has the bargaining chip he needs to rematch divisional #1 Takashi Uchiyama who hammered him to a stoppage in early 2011, but he may prefer to tread water in defense of his trinket. Only 28 and boxing in a corner of the globe that has perhaps the most thriving boxing scene outside of Las Vegas, time and space are both on his side.

Finally, #2 Shinsuke Yamanaka very nearly stopped veteran Filipino and #7 ranked Malcolm Tunacao in the third frame of his defense of his bantamweight strap, dropping the thirty-five-year-old twice. Tunacao toughed it out though, and began to make pressure pay in the ninth by which time he had dropped too many points to box for anything other than a knockout. Bloodied and hurt but extremely game, he was out-slicked by an in-form Yamanaka who stopped him in a brutal twelfth round of a superb contest.

In other news, #4 bantamweight Koki Kameda (now 30-1) once again scraped home in defense of his strap yesterday against the unranked and unheralded Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (drops to 36-2). A cynical man may suggest that a jaded boxing press may be relieved that Kaiyanghadaogym didn’t lift the bauble due simply to the fact that typing and retyping his name is something of a chore; it must be pointed out, however, that Kameda has scraped home in arguably undeserved split decisions over middling opposition on home territory twice in succession. That’s something no boxing man wants to see.

That aside, it has been an extraordinary week for Japanese boxing and despite all the hoopla from China, it remains the biggest oriental player in what has truly become global sport. Those hand-wringing over the death of boxing can look to the Land of the Rising Sun for illumination.

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  1. nicolas 11:44am, 04/09/2013

    It is great to see an article of what is going on in Asia. Quite often we in America, at least for the most part, seem to be very disinterested in that part of the world, except for perhaps Phillipines, mainly because of the many people from that country who are here. Just look at the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the very few Asians fighters who are in that hall.

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