Masataka Taniguchi thoroughly enjoyed his repeat win over Kai Ishizawa.
The first successful defense of the WBO strawweight title is in the book for Taniguchi, who stopped Ishizawa in the eleventh round of their main event Friday evening (local time) at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Ishizawa was unable to continue following an accumulation of punches which forced referee Michiaki Someya to stop the contest at 2:29 of round eleven.
Taniguchi was in control for much of the contest, which was met with uncertainty after Ishizawa badly missed weight by five pounds during the official pre-fight weigh-in Thursday. Ishizawa came in at 110 pounds on his second attempt, nearly two division above the 105-pound strawweight limit.
The fight was conditionally permitted to proceed, with Ishizawa required to weigh no heavier than 3 kilograms above the contracted limit during a same-day weight check. Ishizawa met those terms, allowing Taniguchi to proceed with the first defense of the WBO title he claimed also in an eleventh-round knockout of Puerto Rico's Wilfredo 'Bimbito' Mendez last December at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Friday's affair saw Taniguchi jump out to an early lead, his blend of power and defense proving too much for Ishizawa to contend with in his first career title fight. Ishizawa went on the attack in round three, his best of the fight but with the moment shortlived.
Ishizawa was spared a knockdown call in round four, initially ruled down by the referee who—to his credit—picked up his count when realizing his error and instructing the judges to not score a knockdown.
It ultimately proved moot, as Taniguchi wore down his old rival over the long haul. Ishizawa braved the storm but was left defenseless to the point of the fight being halted by the referee to spare the challenger of additional and unnecessary punishment.
Ishizawa falls to 10-2 (9KOs), with both career defeats coming at the hands of Taniguchi who outpointed his countryman in a September 2019 non-title fight.
Taniguchi improves—in every sense of the word—to 16-3 (10KOs) with his fifth straight win. The streak began with his first victory over Ishizawa, which followed his first title bid when he dropped a twelve-round, unanimous decision to then-WBO strawweight titlist Vic Saludar in this verty venue in February 2019.
The fight aired live atop PBX Phoenix Battle 87 on pay-per-view through Abema TV.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox