By Chris Williamson
Barclaycard Arena (formerly NIA) , Birmingham, West Midlands - In his first world title defense, Kal Yafai (22-0, 14 KOs) won a twelve round unanimous decision over Suguru Muranaka (25-3, 8 KOs) to retain the WBA super flyweight title. The Japanese challenger was down in the second.
The scores were 118-108, 119-107 and 119-107.
Yafai started boxing neatly, with left hook, right hand combination making the Japanese touch down in the second. The champion controlled parts of the bout, circling to his left and landing notably with spiteful left hooks, but Muranaka is no pushover and demonstrated a thudding left hook to the body of his own.
The bout became scrappy, with Yafai's work less impressive than his title winning display in December against Luis Concepcion. A point was taken from Yafai at the closing stages of the eighth for a series of low blows.
As the championship rounds started it was clear Muranaka was too tough to be stopped and Yafai bounded around the ring as the crowd - here to cheer on their champion on a show billed as 'The Honecoming' - sat largely subdued as the challenger continued to press forward. A
fter the final bell all three scores favoured the champion widely. Still it's a tremendously deep division and Yafai - who complained of a sore hand afterwards - will have to improve on this form if he is to trouble his outstanding peers.
Sam Eggington (21-3) continued his terrific run of form since his 2016 defeat to Bradley Skeete with a tenth round knockout of European champion Ceferino Rodriguez. Once the rangy Eggington found his range, he couldn't miss with the straight right hand and as Rodriguez's nose bloodied he began to look anxious and his attacks more timid.
The champion had regrouped by the middle rounds, starting to slip punches more readily until Eggington landed a terrific left hook in the seventh while pressed against the ropes. Rodriguez wilted and looked on the verge of a stoppage defeat as punches came in from all angles.
The stoppage finally came in the tenth as a right uppercut followed by a left hook had the champion out with the ropes holding him up. With the referee slow to react and more sickening punch landed and Rodriguez slumped motionless through the ropes.
The crowd fell silent until the Spaniard recovered and Eggington could celebrate an excellent win as new European champ.
Former amateur world champion Frankie Gavin (now 24-3) won a scrappy eight rounder against Frenchman Renald "Le Lion" Garrido . After stating his intent to campaign at super lightweight, Gavin couldn't even make welter and Garrido (18-15-1) jumped straight on him from the first bell, hurting Gavin with a right hand and launching several unconventional attacks.
If Gavin - marked up as early as the second - had an air of entitlement about him then Garrido was seeking to beat it out of him.
The Birmingham fans are loyal and with the fight of the year contender with Sam Eggington still fresh in their memory, the southpaw remains a popular figure here. It was scrappy stuff but Gavin built up enough momentum after a shaky start to be declared the 77-75 winner.
Gamal Yafai (now 12-0) dropped his commonwealth title to challenge Sean Davis (12-1) for his minor WBC strap in a local super-bantamweight derby. The class, smooth boxing here was with Yafai after a and body shots dropped the determined Davis in the third and a follow up left hook nearly floored him a second time.
To his credit the game Davis fought back bravely before a nasty left hook at the start of the fifth had Davis in the floor again. The incredibly brave champion shrugged off a second knockdown in the round to again finish the session strongly.
Inevitably, two more body shot knockdowns in the seventh saw the bout stopped. Yafai looks to be going places.