Marvin Sonsona scored the biggest win of his once-promising career, while history repeated itself for former 122 lb. titlist Akifumi Shimoda.
A measured fight through two rounds came to a sudden end as Sonsona scored a sensational one-punch knockout in the third round of their supporting featherweight contest Saturday evening at the Cotai Arena in Macao, China.
Neither fighter took the lead in the early going, though Sonsona insisted that such a strategy was by design.
"I was observing what Shimoda was capable of in the first two rounds before I was able to catch him in round three," Sonsona admitted afterward.
Catch him he did, and also catching the attention of those who compile year-end best lists. A perfectly placed left uppercut from Sonsona came out of nowhere, putting Shimoda down and out upon impact, bringing an immediate ending to the fight in round three.
"By the third round, I was setting up my punches and put myself in position to land the uppercut. Shimoda opened up just enough to allow me to land the punch to end the fight," said Sonsona, who improves - in every sense of the word - to 18-1 (14KO).
The win comes as redemption for a career that was once upon a time sold as "can't-miss." Sonsona fell massively short in his first step up in class, when Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. battered him in four rounds in their Feb. '10 vacant 122 lb. title fight. He has now rebounded to win four straight.
Shimoda falls to 28-4-2 (12KO), in a loss reminiscent of his title reign-ending knockout defeat versus Rico Ramos in July '11. Shimoda was in control for the entire affair in their bout, which aired live on HBO, before one punch turned around the fight in round seven.
A six-fight unbeaten streak followed, as Shimoda was a considerable favorite to get past Sonsona on Saturday. A major upset instead played out, as the Japanese southpaw was flat on his back and unconscious for several minutes while tended to by ringside physicians.
Rex Tso impressed in his third straight appearance at the Cotai Arena, battering a game but overmatched Mako Matsuyama of Japan en route to an eight round knockout.
Matsuyama came to fight, but put his health at major risk as the last three rounds of the bout featured a frightening amount of punishment. Tso, a rising super flyweight prospect from Hong Kong, was brutal in his attack, coming dangerously close to stopping Matsuyama in rounds six and seven.
The ending finally came in round eight, largely through attrition. An exhausted Matsuyama (7-8, 3KO) was tagged and fell to the canvas in a heap. His corner had the sense to disallow him from fighting on, throwing in the towel to end the fight.
Tso rolls to 12-0 (8KO), scoring his third straight win at Cotai Arena.
Ryota Murata continues to enjoy a rapid rise in the pro ranks, scoring a 4th round stoppage of veteran middleweight Carlos Nascimento.
Murata (3-0, 3KO), who captured a gold medal for Japan in the 2012 London Olympics, floored Nascimento (29-4, 23KO) with a liver shot in round three before finishing him off with a knockdown in the ensuing round. The official time was 0:43 of round four.
Jerwin Ancajas opened the show with a 2nd round knockout of Inthanon Sithchumuang. The 22-year old Filipino southpaw scored a knockdown at the end of round one, before a barrage of punches put Sithchumuang (20-7, 11KO) down and out in round two.
Ancajas rolls to 19-1-1 (11KO), scoring his sixth consecutive knockout.
Akifumi Shimoda Lost KO3 Marvin Sonsona - 12 rounds, featherweight
Rex Tso TKO8 (1:27) Mako Matsuyama - super flyweights
Jerwin Ancajas KO2 Inthanon Sithchamuang - super flyweights
Ryota Murata KO4 (0:43) Carlos Nascimento - middleweights
Harmonito Dela Torre KO1 (2:17) Yakobus Heluka - super featherweight
Kuok Kun Ng KO3 Rocky Alap Alap - super welterweights
HBO2 PORTION (SAME-DAY TAPE DELAY)
STILL TO COME: Zou Shiming vs Yokthong Kokietgym - 8 rounds, flyweight
STILL TO COME: Miguel Vazquez vs Denis Shafikov - 12 rounds, lightweight
STILL TO COME: Egor Mekhontsev vs Atthaporn Jaritram - 6 rounds, light heavyweights
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox