Japan's Akira Yaegashi dethroned Pornsawan Porpramook of Thailand as the World Boxing Association minimumweight champion by technical knockout in a fiercely fought title match in Tokyo.
Finnish referee Erkki Meronen stopped the fight in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-rounder after Yaegashi, the fourth-ranked WBA contender, pinned the champion on the ropes with a barrage of blows from both hands.
It was 28-year-old Yaegashi's second crack at a world title and his victory improved his professional record to 15 wins, eight of them inside the distance, and two losses. For Pornsawan, 33, it was the fourth defeat against 23 wins, 16 of them by knockout, and one draw.
It was his first defence of the title he wrested from Indonesian Muhammad Rachman by a narrow points decision in Jakarta in July.
There were no knockdowns until the referee's decision. But the two right-handers slugged it out all the way for the title -- the WBA's lightest division with a weight limit of 47.6kg (105 lbs).
"The champion was really tough and I was quite scared until the fight was over," said Yaegashi, his face as bruised and swollen as Pornsawan's.
"I got hit by a huge counter when I was attacking in the second half and I almost fell down. I thought for a moment that it was over but it was good that I didn't give up."
Pornsawan, a former Muay Thai (Thai boxing) fighter, said the referee was probably "too hasty" in stopping the fight.
"I feel sad, of course," he said. "I could still go on. But my opponent was strong, too. I thought he would stay away from me but he came out fighting."
The two boxers went head-to-head from the opening gong at the Korakuen Hall.
All three judges -- Ruben Garcia (USA), Silvestre Abainza (Philippines) and Pierluigi Poppi (Italy) -- gave a one-point advantage to the challenger in each of the first four rounds.
But in the fifth and sixth rounds, Yaegashi slowed down while Pornsawan went on the offensive, pummelling the Japanese with vicious blows from both fists.
Early in the eighth round, Yaegashi surprised the Thai champion with an uppercut to the face. But Pornsawan sprang back with a clean hit that had Yaegashi buckling at the knees.
Although the 10th round started evenly, Yaegashi soon tried to finish Pornsawan with a one-two combination to the head followed by a flurry of punches. The fight was stopped at 2:38 in the round.