By Jake Donovan
In a shocker that throws the year-end awards season for a loop while possibly putting the Japanese Boxing Commission in hot water, previously unbeaten Ryo Miyazaki was stopped in three rounds by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. in their 108 lb. bout Tuesday evening in Osaka, Japan.
The bout served as the chief support to the 108 lb. title fight between Kazuto Ioka - Miyazaki's mentor and promotional stablemate - and Nicaragua's Felix Alvarado, but there are major questions as to whether the fight should have ever been allowed.
Under normal circumstances, Miyazaki would have been a medical scratch the moment he passed out at the pre-fight weigh-in. The 25-year old was forced to vacate his 105 lb. title in the weeks leading into the New Year's Eve show due to his months long inability to properly make weight.
Such was shown in what turned out to be his final title defense, a controversial majority decision over Mexico's Jesus Silvestre in September. His strawweight title reign - which began with a points win over former champ Pornsawan Porpramook last New Year's Eve - lasted just three total fights as he geared towards a title run in a second weight class.
However, making 108 lb. proved to be as much of a struggle. Miyazaki barely made weight for Tuesday's co-feature bout, before passing out during his pre-fight physical. There was not only major concern for his health, but whether or not he would still be permitted to fight.
Similar circumstances forced American featherweight prospect Gary Russell to be pulled from Olympic competition just prior to his scheduled opening round bout of the 2009 Beijing Games. The same level of concern was not expressed here by the JBC, which permitted the bout to go on as planned.
The move came to the benefit of Sakkreerin Jr., who puts himself in prime position to follow in his father's footsteps.
More than 20 years after his father, Fahlan Sr., reigned as a strawweight titlist who failed in four separate bids from 2001 to 2005 to capture a 108 lb. title. Sakkreerin Jr. is now in prime position to challenge for a belt in 2014, even though Tuesday's bout was a non-title affair not sanctioned by any major alphabet organization.
Still, the ramifications of the feat will be felt in the coming months and certainly throughout this week for those who pay attention to worldwide results.
The 20-year old was fighting outside of Thailand for the first time in his career and stepping way up on the boxing food chain. His record was largely comprised of soft competition typically found on the ledger of most Thai fighters on the way up, as ring activity is far more embraced than competitive matchmaking save for major title fights.
Still, Sakkreerin Jr. found himself in the right place at the right time on Tuesday. The first couple of rounds were competitive, but indicative of Miyazaki's weakened state.
The unbeaten former titlist was rocked late in round one, a sequence which drew immediate concern and attention from his corner in between rounds. A relatively tame second round transitioned to a continued pawing contest in the early portions of the third round. That dramatically changed when a sweeping overhand right by Sakkreerin Jr. appeared to have floored Miyazaki. The referee incorrectly ruled it a slip, but the baby-faced Thai soon took care of that problem.
A textbook one-two combination right down the middle landed flush on Miyazaki's chin, putting the rising Japanese star flat on his back. A count was briefly issued before the bout was wisely waved off as concern was immediately expressed over the fighter's health.
The official time was 2:22 of round three.
Sakkreerin Jr. picks up what is by leaps and bounds the biggest win of his professional career as he improves to 23-2 (15KO).
Miyazaki suffers his first pro loss, falling to 20-1-3 (11KO). The bout puts a damper on plans to challenge for a 108 lb. title in 2014, while putting his conqueror in prime position to pick up the fallen pieces.
From a mathematical (and scientific) standpoint, Sakkreerin Jr. was conceived shortly after his father's two year strawweight title reign came to an end in September 1992. By the time he was old enough to pay attention to boxing, the son merely had the chance to see his father come up short twice in 2001, and again in the final two bouts of his career to capture hardware in the 108 lb. division.
The onus is now on the son to carry his father's legacy. That moment could come in the first half of 2014, pending the outcome and aftermath of Tuesday's main event.
The bout aired via one-hour tape delay on TBS Japan, as part of the network's 'Kyokugen 2013' New Year's Eve telecast.
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