Ryuya Yamanaka was unable to retain his WBO minimumweight title on Friday night, relinquishing the crown to Filipino challenger Vic Saludar in a unanimous decision.
Yamanaka (16-3, five knockouts) started his second title defense at Kobe’s Central Gym strongly and appeared to get the better of Saludar (18-3, 10 KOs) in the early rounds.
The 23-year-old tagged Saludar with a left hook to the head and landed scoring punches to his body in an impressive second round.
However, the 27-year-old Saludar picked up his pace as the rounds progressed and looked firmly in control after dropping Yamanaka to the canvas in the seventh.
After an exchange of blows in the center of the ring, Saludar followed a left jab with a straight right to the head that floored Yamanaka with a minute left in the round.
Yamanaka won the WBO minimumweight crown from countryman Tatsuya Fukuhara last August. He successfully defended the belt against Moises Calleros of Mexico in March.
IN OTHER NEWS: Slovenia´s Ema Kozin was pencilled in to defend her World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Middleweight title against South African Mapule Ngubane in Budapest, Hungary. Instead she ended up re-matching former IBF world titlist Eva Bajic from Serbia.
Kozin had also been scheduled to face Ngubane in March, but due to visa problems she took on Bajic instead, on short notice, and retained the WBF world championship by fifth round stoppage. This time, the exact same thing happened, no visa for Ngubane and in stepped Bajic at the last minute.
Since their first bout, Bajic returned with a victory in Hungary, but also lost decisions to IBO world champion Mikaela Lauren in Sweden and WIBA world champion Layla McCarter in Germany, solidifying the outcome of the first Kozin vs. Bajic fight as a very good performance by the 19-year-old from Ljubljana.
Despite being a mediocre 14-13 (9) going in, Bajic, who held the IBF World Welterweight title in 2013 and never lost it in the ring, was certainly a worthy late substitute, but it was more or less expected that things would turn out the same way as in their original encounter.
However, Bajic appeared to be determined to do better this time, and gave Kozin a much harder time. She fought well, and even had her moments of success, testing the champion and making it a good fight. Kozin was still the better of the two, landing the cleaner shots, but Bajic did herself proud.
After ten rounds it was clear that Kozin, who improved her record to 14-0 (8), had retained her title by a decent margin, and judges Bulcsu Gabris and Miklos Dory accurately scored it 97-93 and 97-94 in her favour.
Unfortunately judge Emeke Halas must have been watching from the bar, as she didn't give a single round to Kozin and inexcusably scored the fight 100-90 for BAJIC, making it a totally misleading, unjustifiable split decision.