By Takahiro Onaga
WBA flyweight "regular" titleholder Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12 KOs) successfully overcame the spirited challenge of Nicaraguan fighter Keyvin Lara (18-2-1, 6 KOs).
Lara started the bout like a train and set off at an electric pace with a work rate that really was extraordinary. Unfortunately the huge work rate didn't pay off, nor did it trouble Ioka, who swiftly found a home for his counters and picked his shots perfectly through the maelstrom of leather sent his way, with the left hook to the body being Ioka's most consistent shot.
For four rounds Lara looked like a terrier swarming all over Ioka, but by round 5 the Nicaraguan started to slow, and in round 6 Ioka began to really chip away at Lara, who was clearly slowing down, partly from his intense output and partly a result of the body shots.
From round 7 it seemed like Ioka was beginning to aim for the KO, weakening Lara with heavier shots, combinations thrown with nasty intent and some demoralising taunting, including an Ali Shuffle and some showboating movement that made Lara's shots look ridiculously inaccurate.
In round 10, Ioka stepped it up again and dropped a tired looking Lara after a vicious assault late in the round. Lara had managed to take more than most had expected him to take and he even managed to recover to his feet before being saved by the bell. That bell was more of a curse than a blessing and he was quickly dropped in round 11, with the Nicaraguan taking the full 10 count.
Guzman Stops Wake, Wins World Title at 122
Another world title bout kicked off the telecast. This one saw the heavy-handed Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-, 22 KOs) claim the IBF super bantamweight title that had been vacated by Carl Frampton. The Dominican overcame popular Japanese fighter Shingo Wake (20-5-2, 12 KOs) in what will likely go down as a hardcore fan's Fight of the Year contender.
Guzman's power proved to be the difference early as he badly cut Wake in round 2, a nightmare round for Wake, who was dropped twice. The cut and the knockdowns seemed to suggest that Guzman would just bowl him over early as he had done with many previous foes. Another knockdown in round 3, albeit one that looked like a push, further put Wake behind.
Round 4 saw Wake showing some life, but he was dropped hard in round 5, and then dropped again after the bell as Guzman threw what looked like a very intentional late shot.
With Wake's face a mess, his confidence low, and a mile behind on the scorecards, many were calling for Wake to be pulled out by his corner. They sent him out for round 6 and amazingly he looked like the more lively fighter backing up Guzman and beginning an amazingly courageous fight back, taking the fight to Guzman. Guzman began to look like a tiring fighter in rounds 9 and 10, and Wake was unlucky that he didn't get a knockdown scored in his favour in round 10.
With both men essentially blind in one eye, with Wake's right eye and Guzman's left eye both closed, it seemed that both men were going to remember the fight. Sadly for Wake, however, the fight will be remembered for the 11th round, when he suffered a cut on his left eye that
immediately trickled into the eye and forced the referee to end the contest, with him suffering an 11th round TKO loss.
Prior to the televised card, OPBF bantamweight titleholder Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15 KOs) easily disposed of Filipino challenger Rex Wao (11-3, 9 KOs) to record his second defense. Wao was dropped within a minute and was seen off not too much later with Yamamoto landing a really vicious body shot that left the Filipino in agony on the canvas. Wao stayed down not just for the 10 count but for quite a while afterward, too.
Another regional titleholder retaining on the untelevised portion of this card was Japanese 154-pound kingpin Yuki Nonaka (30-8-1, 9 KOs) who scored a unanimous decision over Ryosuke Maruki (12-4-1, 7 KOs). This was certainly no easy defense for Nonaka with the Osakan local being pushed all the way by the challenger from Aichi. Maruki, more than 10 years younger than Nonaka, forced the pace but Nonaka's clever boxing and smart counters impressed the judges as he claimed the decision with scores of 98-94, 97-94 and 97-95. Fair to say that in Aichi he may not have got the win.
Also on the under-card was promising prospect Masayoshi Hashizume (11-0, 8) who scored a 5th round TKO win over a Thai foe. Hashizume looked in control through out the bout before forcing the referee to save the out-gunned visitor.