By Joe Koizumi
Former Japanese champ Rikki Naito (18-2, 6 KOs), a slick-punching southpaw at 140, eked out a split decision (77-76, 77-75 and 75-79) over previously undefeated Chinese prospect Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (12-1-1, 5 KOs), 138.5, over eight close rounds on Friday in Tokyo, Japan. It was a well-packed show of the second confrontations of Japanese and Chinese boxers at the Korakuen Hall with many Chinese witnesses.
Naito, in earlier rounds, utilized his faster footwork to outbox and outpunch the taller opponent, but Baishanbo, formerly WBC youth champ and currently WBC Asia 140-pound ruler, caught up with the shifty Japanese from the sixth round on. Naito was awarded a hairline victory thanks to his accumulation on points in the first half.
In six undercard bouts (five 4-rounders and a 6-rounder) Japan and China ended in a 3-3 tie. The third joint venture by Max Power Promotions (China) and Dangan Promotions (Japan) will take place in Shanghai, China, on March 18—according to the Chinese promoter Liu Gang.