By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten speedster, WBC#10 Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3 KOs), 118, scored an important victory as he defeated WBC#3 Mark John Yap (29-12, 14 KOs), 118, a Japan-based Filipino, by a unanimous decision over twelve hard-fought rounds on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.
The official tallies were as follows: Rey Danseco (Philippines) 116-111, Yoshikazu Furuta (Japan) 117-110, and Catherine Leonard (US) 114-113—all in favor of Takuma, Naoya “Monster” Inoue’s younger brother. The referee was Bruce McTavish (New Zealand).
Fast-punching Takuma, seven years his junior at 22, kept on outspeeding and outlegging the OPBF champ Yap all the way, and sent him sprawling to the deck with a well-timed left hook in round five. But it wasn’t an easy night for Takuma—even though he was faster on hand and foot—as Yap occasionally threw a very sharp devastating left-right combination that the youngster barely averted with his good reflexes. After the eighth, the open scoring system read 78-73 twice, 77-74 all for Takuma.
The tide, however, almost turned in round nine, when Yap caught the younger and fresher foe with a wicked left hook that almost toppled Takuma, who cleverly changed his strategy to circling rather than swapping punches toe-to-toe with the aggressor. It was Takuma, encouraged by his brother and WBA bantam champ Naoya, that regained his rhythm and connected with his favorite left hooks with precision from the tenth onward. Yap, aware of being behind on points, displayed a last surge to turn the tide and score a come-from-behind knockout in the twelfth, when Takuma moved well and countered the onrushing Filipino veteran.
It was a very good fight where they showed the very best they had out of their arsenals. Takuma’s fifth-round knockdown was a significant factor that affected their fight plans thereafter and the outcome on points. Their differeence was that Takuma hit in combination, while Yap threw a stronger one-two combo at a time. Takuma, now the WBC mandatory contender, jubilantly said, “It’s my dream for us, with my brother, to possess the world bantam belts simultaneously.” They are going to be Klitschko brothers in the 118-pound category.