Katsunari Takayama retained his version of the strawweight crown, stopping countryman Ryuji Hara in eight rounds Sunday evening in Osaka, Japan.
As has been typical of his career, nothing about the fight came easy for Takayama. The defending champion jumped out a strong opening round, but quickly found himself in a fight as Hara came with intentions of resurrecting his once-promising career.
By round three, Takayama was cut above his left eye - due to an accidental headbutt, and enough of a nuisance for the defending champion to have to contend with for as long as the fight lasted. It was enough motivation to make sure the fight wouldn't last very long.
Hara was game, but eventually overwhelmed by power shots both to the body and upstairs. He went tooth-and-nail for as long as he could, but ultimately reached a point where he could no longer defend himself. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth picked up on this, and jumped in to rescue the wounded challenger.
The official time was 1:20 of round eight.
Takayama improves to 30-7 (12KOs) with the win, his third straight following a heartbreaking loss to Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in their 12-round war last August. Their strawweight title unification bout was universally hailed as 2014 Fight of the Year.
Hara falls to 19-2 (11KOs), having now lost twice in the span of three fights.
The bout aired live on TBS-Japan.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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