Kohei Kono put in a composed performance to take out Denkaosan Kaovichit with an eighth round KO and claim his WBA Super Flyweight Title in front of the Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Wednesday night.
Denkaosan took the middle of the ring in the opening round and stood his ground as Kono looked to circle out and use more footwork, but in the closing stages the Thai veteran was able to trap him in the corner and fire off a couple of hard body shows.
In the second round, Denkaosan set his stall out to attack and succeeded in driving Kono back. The Japanese fighter was struggling to find either range or rhythm but a stiff jab found its mark and stopped the interim champion in his tracks, the most effective shot landed in the early exchanges.
In the third, Kono looked distinctly uncomfortable and complained to the referee about his opponent’s use of the head as Denkaosan continued to apply pressure. The pattern continued early in the fourth as the Japanese fighter was unceremoniously manhandled to the ground at the start of the round.
Kono was briefly dragged into exchanging on the inside where he was able to hold his own, but Denkaosan was doing a good job of closing the distance and roughing the Japanese fighter up although he would soon pay the price for his unbridled aggression and lack of defensive awareness.
The Thai fighter attempted to land a huge right haymaker but it was telegraphed and Kono countered with a perfectly timed short right hook that dropped Denkaosan face down on the canvas. He was clearly stunned and took his time to recover but still finished the fourth on the front foot.
In the fifth, Denkaosan continued pressing forward, planting his feet, gritting his teeth and throwing power shots to the body and head as Kono patiently waited for an opening but struggled to find suitable opportunities to counter his indefatigable opponent.
The contrast between the calibre of these two boxers was never more clear than in the sixth as Denkaosan stuck to his tried and trusted strategy of charging forwards and trying to rough up Kono but was picked apart with jabs and crosses which consistently snapped his head back.
In the seventh Kono seemed to take a breather and made no attempt to capitalize when Denkaosan began to back off for the first time, the Japanese fighter content simply to control the fight without actually attempting to land any meaningful combinations.
Any concerns that Kono might pay the price for allowing Denkaosan to outwork him for long periods of the fight were swiftly dispelled at the start of the eighth round when he landed a straight right hand with such ease it appeared almost effortless, knocking the 37 year old Thai fighter out for only the third time in his 18 year career.
It was a brave effort from Denkaosan but he was ultimately outclassed by the more accurate Kono and failed in his attempt to become the fully fledged WBA 115 lbs champion, after winning the interim title with a majority decision win over Nobuo Nashiro last year.
Kono succeeded in reclaiming the same title he lost last year, after dropping a majority decision to Liborio Solis, and improved to 30-8. According to the Japanese media a match with WBA 118 lbs champion Koki Kameda is already in the making.
At the age of 37 this could be the end of the road for Denkaosan who is 62-4 and has been competing as a professional since 1996. This was his fifth world title fight in Japan and he has won two, lost two and drawn one of those bouts.