The co-feature saw Sonny Boy Jaro's unexpected flyweight title reign end in its very first defense, suffering a split decision at the hands of Toshiyuki Igarashi.
Jaro won 116-112 on one card, but scores of 115-113 and 116-112 in favor of Igarashi crown a new lineal champion in the flyweight division.
The 30-year old Jaro scored perhaps the biggest upset of 2012 to date with a shocking 6th round knockout of two-time lineal flyweight king Pongasklek Wonjongkam earlier this year. The diminutive Filipino had fallen miserably short whenever stepping up in class, but delivered a career-best performance in flooring the legendary Thai four times before closing the show in the sixth round.
There was no such magic in Japan, although Jaro fought tooth and nail every step of the way in his best effort to keep the clock ticking his Cinderella story. Igarashi had other ideas, offering a disciplined enough performance to cope with the unconventional style of the now ex-champion.
Constant lateral movement from the challenger proved to troubling for Jaro, who landed the more telling blows on the night but just not with enough frequency to win rounds. Igarashi’s jab also proved to be disruptive, even if never thrown with much conviction.
Tense moments were provided down the stretch, as Igarashi was forced to contend with a gushing cut over his left eye. Jaro did his best to bust open the wound, but spent perhaps too much time treating it like a bulls-eye as his attack became one-dimensional.
It was the right concept as Jaro needed something dramatic to happen in order to extend his title reign. However, the lack of a disciplined attack cost him dearly and nearly resulted in suffering a last round knockdown. Jaro hit the deck, though the sequence was correctly ruled a slip. Still, it was indicative of the Filipino’s evening, putting his best foot forward throughout but constantly coming up a step or two short.
Both fighters raised their arms in victory at the end of 12 rounds, but Jaro’s body language suggested a fighter who knew his days as champion were soon coming to an end. Still, the visiting fighter was ever the sportsman, going out of his way to congratulate Igarashi at the end of the fight and again when the final scores were announced.
That the fight was a split decision helped provided extended drama, if not a false sense of hope for Jaro. Feelings of dejection was evident in the Filipino’s corner once the final card was read in favor of Igarashi, bowing their heads in disappointment as the crowd erupted.
Igarashi fought back tears as he addressed the crowd while in the ring with his family. The 28-year old improves to 16-1-1 (11KO) with the win, his ninth straight. The title opportunity was earned when Igarashi scored a decision win over Wilfredo Uicab last November, though was forced to endure the longest layoff of his career in awaiting the title shot.
The short-lived reign for Jaro snaps a five-fight win streak as he falls to 34-11-5 (24KO).