May 8, 2016


Three-time world champ Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12 KOs), 107.5, Japan, barely kept his IBF junior flyweight belt as he mixed it up and exchanged hot rallies with Mexican Martin Tecuapetla (23-5, 15 KOs), 107.74, all the way to be awarded a well-received but split decision over twelve hard-fought see-saw rounds on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan.

Daniel Sandoval (US) and Bruce McTavish (Philippines) both tallied 115-113 and 116-113 in favor of Yaegashi, but Katsuhiko Nakamura (Japan) had it 115-113 for Tecuapetla. The fast-moving referee was Gerard White (US) who surprisingly spoke Japanese as he used to work in Mazda company in Hiroshima.

It was a tough defense for Yaegashi, a 33-year-old veteran, as he wasnft sharp and speedy as usual in the first three sessions, when the awkward Mexican, 26, took the leadoff and was in command, landing jabs and long rights to the stationary target.

His manager/promoter and former WBA/WBC world champ Hideyuki Ohashifs scolding after the third was a well-timed wakeup call, which made him abruptly aggressive enough to participate into a give-and-take brawl from the fourth on. Yaegashi is a strange boxer, who has a couple of strategies: (1) a clever hit-and-run shown in decisively outboxing Edgar Sosa (W12) with his full use of fast footwork and quick counterpunchig, and (2) a do-or-die mix-up displayed in his ESPN award-winning brutal fight with Pornsawan Porpramook (TKO10) and his recklessly suiciding do-or-die battle with Roman Gonzalez (TKO by 9).

Probably he was at first attempting to fight by hitting without getting hit, but his initial fight plan didnft work well as he confessed after the bout, saying, gMy brain and body didnft work together in the beginning of the fight. My body didnft follow my brainfs instructions, so I decided to swap punches with him without running.h

As all the judges scored for Yaegashi in the fourth through seventh rounds, he turned loose to enter a pier-six brawl and displayed his determined retaliation that overcame his early deficit on points. The champ exclusively worked the body of the Mexican and followed with overhand rights to the face. It seemed successful. Yaegashi, who had dethroned Javier Mendoza by an upset verdict last December, absorbed some punishment by Tecuapetla (a very strange name for us, foreigners and press people to write; which sounds like gtetrapodh at a seashore), but landed more and harder shots to him in the close quarter. He became a Mathew Saad Muhammad, the give-and-take forerunner in 1970fs.

The last four rounds saw a bizarre processing with Yaegashi taking the initiative but absorbing a considerable retaliation by Tecuapetla. The Japanese veteran and his corner as well might think he was winning, but the judges didnft see as they thought, because Yaegashi began to take the Mexicanfs jabs and occasional rights to the face.

His manager Ohashi, in his previous bouts, appealed to the referee during the fight, saying gYaegashifs face hasnft been swollen by the opponentfs attack, but his face is always like that?even before the fight.h It wasnft a joke but a fact that Ohashi tried to protect his boxer from an expected stoppage by the third man in his world title bouts.

We may reconsider the meaning of ggive-and-takeh in boxing. If you take one to land two, it may be an effective strategy to win. But if you take two to land one, it might not be a good way of fighting. If you take one to hit one, you must hit a stronger and more effective goneh. Yaegashi might think his punch was more effective than that of Tecuapetla in the last four sessions, but the officials tallied in the last four sessions as follows: Sandval 2-2, McTavish 3-1 for Yaegashi, and Nakamura 3-1 for Tecuapetla.

Yaegashi, in round nine, looked to have conquered the see-saw exchanges of punches, but two judges evaluated the Mexicanfs surge in scoring with light but accurate shots. The tenth witnessed Tecuapetla, encouraged by his manager Jorge Barrera (the elder brother of Marco Antonio Barrera), land good jabs and combinations to the arm-weary champ with his hands hanging low as usual.

Yaegashi, in the eleventh, effectively caught the challenger with solid left-rights to the face, but took his retaliations to the face in return. Yaegashi was a Vito Antuofermo without bleeding but with a swollen face. The twelfth and last stanza witnessed another give-tan-take brawl with Yaegashi winning two votes of the officials but losing one?meaning that he landed more punches but took less punches.

Yaegashi, three years his junior to lately dethroned WBA 130-pound champ Takashi Uchiyama in the same Takushoku Universityfs boxing club, wished to dedicate his victory to his senior and encourage his comeback. gI was shocked by Mr. Uchiyamafs defeat. I tonight could survive and retained my belt, and hope he will come back to the ring.h

Why is Yaegashi so popular in Japan? He is not as technically excellent as Uchiyama, Shinsuke Yamanaka, Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka, but probably one of the most popular and well-known boxers among the public. It is probably because: (1) People can appreciate his give-and-take performance since a majority of television watchers are quite ignorant in the essence of Sweet Science, just enjoying the damage-exchanging game. General people donft appreciate the highly technical skills of boxing such as that of Floyd Mayweather but just enjoy watching easy-to-understand Mike Tysonfs destruction of the opposition. Like that, Yaegashi isnft scientific but very popular here.

(2) Regardless of win or loss, Yaegashi always attracts his fans and TV watchers with his hard-fought battle. People, who are not familiar with the scoring criterion, can easily understand whether Yaegashi won (over Porpramook, Igarashi and Mendoza) or lost (to Roman Gonzalez, Pedro Guevara)?due to his straightforward style of fighting.

(3) In Japan, there is a very famous proverb pronounced gnana korobi yaokih meaning falling down seven times and getting up eight times is what makes for success in life. Yaegashifs career just follows the proverb since he, formerly national amaeur champ, failed to win the belt in his seventh pro bout, losing a lopsided decision at the hand of Eagle Kyowa (Eagle Den Junlaphan) with his broken jaw at two spots in 2007. People then couldnft have imagined Yaegashi would become such a popular champion in the future, having gained three world championships.

(4) Yaegashi is simply humble, polite and likable. Japanese people never love such flamboyant characters as Adrian Broner or others, but Yaegashifs personality is located at the very opposite to Problemfs.

(5) The public cannot appreciate highly technique such as feint, counterpunching, well-educated defensive skills, etc. but hard-fought rallies as shown by Yaegashi. They always sympathize with the damage of the swollen-faced warrior. Such sympathy may cause his high popularity among people.

Probably Japanese television people must be happy with his successful defense as he survived since Yeagashi is the man that always causes to gain higher TV ratings since people love to watch him fight. We may enjoy watching Yaegashifs some more world title bouts?in the twilight of his career.

IBF supervisor: Glen Hamada (US)

Promoter: Ohashi Promotions.


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