May 7, 2014


IBF minimumweight champ Katsunari Takayama (27-6-1NC), 105, kept his belt as he sent southpaw compatriot Shin Ono (17-6-2, 2 KOs), 105, to the deck in the tenth and final sessions to score a unanimous decision over twelve hard-fought rounds on Wednesday in Osaka, Japan.

The official tallies were as follows: Eddie Hernandez and Hilton Whitaker (both US) both 115-111, and Pawel Kaldyni (Poland) 117-109, all for the defending titlist. The referee was Larry Doggette (US).

It resulted in a much tougher defense for Takayama, a prohibitive favorite, than we had expected?due to Onofs puzzling lefty style. Takayama, making his second defense since his third world coronation at the expense of IBF 105-pound champ Mario Rodriguez in Mexico thirteen months ago, made a good start in the opening session, but Ono, ex-OPBF champ, occasionally displayed invisible southpaw lefts to catch the busy-moving champ.

Ono, not a hard-puncher but a lefty speedster as shown by his low knockout ratio (of having scored only two KOs in 24 bouts), previously defeated future WBC 105-pound champ Xiong Zhao Zhong of China and also future Japanese ruler Yu Kimura to his credit. Ono, a year his senior at 31, was in command by a slight margin thanks to accurate southpaw lefts in the fifth through seventh rounds. It looked strange that Takayama, who had good experience of having fought southpaw rivals, so easily absorbed Onofs southpaw lefts midway in the contest.

Takayama sustained a gash at the left optic caused by Onofs legal punch in the seventh, and another at the right eyebrow in the eighth. It seemed a tough fight for the defending champ.

We found after the fight that, after the ninth, the judges had tallied so close: 87-84 and 86-85 for Takayama, and 86-85 for Ono.

We witnessed a happening midway in the tenth, when Ono almost threw himself out of the ropes after missing a big shot and stayed there as he was for a while. What did he expect then and there? Did he wish the third man to kindly help him pull back to the ring? The ring wasnft a kindergarten. Heaven helps those who help themselves. As there was no order to stop fighting from the referee, Takayama then battered the challenger hanging on the ropes and dropped him on knees. The hard-boiled ref mercilessly counted Ono for the mandatory eight. Since then, it was Takayama game.

Obviously fading and tired, Ono was seldom aggressive due to his lack of good energy in stock. The champ, in round twelve, again sent Ono to the canvas with a flurry of punches to confirm his victory by showing the difference of stamina and heart.

After the unanimous decision for him was announced, Takayama showed his great joy and said, gI wish to win my fourth belt in the 105-pund class as I have already conquered three world belts (WBC, WBA and IBF).h Should his dream come true, Takayama may be given an opportunity to fight WBO ruler Francis Rodriguez Jr. of Mexico in the near future.

The loser Ono said, gI repent of my carelessness in the tenth round, when I should have protected myself more.h

Takayama is a fighting champ, having experienced several fights abroad unlike other Japanese boys who love to fight inside of their native country?in the Philippines, South Africa and Mexico. He is one of the fastest moving Japanese boxers despite his 5f2h size.


Unbeaten OPBF lightweight champ Masayoshi Nakatani (8-0, 5 KOs), 134.5, kept his newly acquired regional belt by a unanimous decision (116-12, 117-111, 118-110) over Mondo Harada (AKA Ricky Sismundo; 26-8-1, 12 KOs), 134.25, a Japan-based Filipino, over twelve heats.

Promoter: Ioka Promotions.


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