Japan’s Ryosuke Nishida defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez to become the new IBF bantamweight world champion in just his ninth professional fight.

Nishida (9-0, 1 KOs) put Rodriguez (22-3, 13 KOs) on the canvas in the fourth round on his way to a unanimous-decision victory today at the EDION Arena, Osaka. 

The judges scored the bout 117–110, 115-112 and 115-112.

Nishida started positively in the opening two rounds finding his range with a right jab to the head and a left hook to the body. 

Both men had success as they traded headshots at the start of the third round, but it was the champion who seemed more unsteady. Nishida pushed on to land two straight lefts to the body, outclassing Rodriguez again with a right downstairs followed by a left to the head as the bell rang. 

Nishida landed a straight left to the head to continue his good work at the start of the fourth round. Rodriguez attempted to tie up Nishida, but a gluttony of left hooks to the body sent the champion to the floor midway through the round. Rodriguez composed himself to rise at the count of ‘eight’ as Nishida celebrated. 

The champion quickly found himself under pressure as Nishida again attacked the body, but Rodriguez fought back enough to hear the bell. A right uppercut was the pick of the bunch in what had been a close round, despite the knockdown. 

The middle rounds saw a constant theme, and Rodriguez saw his right hand landing more in the exchanges. However, Nishida's rangy jab and constant left hook to the body was just about keeping the aggressive Puerto Rican at bay. 

By round nine, the fight had dramatically slowed, but the pair rarely backed off. Nishida landed eye-catching combinations towards the end of the session, but his attempts to walk down Rodriguez saw him catch a good number of clean right hands that had brought a large swelling to the right side of his face. 

Rodriguez pushed for the stoppage in the final rounds, but the tall southpaw challenger's strong chin and quicker hands had him looking the better man. They fought until the final bell in what turned out to be a much closer fight than the beginning had suggested. 

“I want to thank the people who believed in me despite the overwhelming odds,” Nishida said afterwards. 

Nishida joins the Japanese takeover in the lighter weight classes, becoming the third world champion at bantamweight alone alongside Junto Nakatani and Takuma Inoue.