By Jake Donovan
Takashi Miura capped the best year of his career to date with a 9th round knockout of Mexico's Dante Jardon in their 130 lb. title fight Tuesday evening in Tokyo, Japan.
Miura (27-2-2, 20KO) scored knockdowns in rounds five and nine, the latter prompting a mercy stoppage as Jardon was never competitive at any point of the evening.
The bout sends a warning shot to Takashi Uchiyama, the de facto leader at 130 lb. who headlines the show against Daike Kaneko. A unification bout has been discussed for 2014, and Miura couldn't have asked for a stronger lead-in. His knockout over Jardon (now 24-4, 20KO) serves as the second title defense of the belt he won over Gamaliel Diaz earlier this year.
Sandwiched in between was a summer trek to Mexico, where he managed a well-earned points win over mandatory challenger Sergio 'Yeyo' Thompson in August. Tuesday's result completes a clean sweep on the year for Miura, with all three wins in 2013 coming in title fights and against Mexican fighters.
Top-rated 115 lb. contender Carlos Cuadras marked time towards a pending title shot in 2014 with a stay-busy win. The unbeaten knockout artist made quick work of horribly overmatched Songseanglek Phosuwangym (now 1-10, 0KO), knocking out the Thai in two rounds.
In an equally suspect case of matchmaking, former 115 lb. titlist Kohei Kono returned to the win column, scoring a third round stoppage of Daut Manopkanchang, a Thai boxer who - according to Boxrec.com - was making his pro debut.
The win, which took place at the bantamweight limit, was means to shake rust for Kono, who challenges Denkaosan Kaovichit for a vacant title at 115 lb. The same belt was once around the waist of Kono, who won the title in dramatic fashion with a shocking 4th round knockout of Tepparith Kokeitgym last New Year's Eve.
His lone attempted title defense resulted in a heartbreaking points loss to Liborio Solis this past May. Solis was forced to concede the belt earlier this month, however, when failing to make weight for his scheduled unification bout with Daiki Kameda.
Kono is now given a shot at a second title reign, as he is scheduled to face Kaovichit on March 26 in Tokyo.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox