By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Underdog Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12 KOs), 126, captured the Japanese featherweight belt when he battered and bloodied defending champ Takenori Ohashi (15-5-2, 10 KOs), 125.75, and finally halted him at 1:12 of the seventh round on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
Ohashi, making his first defense, wrested the national title in bizarre fashion as the then champ Kosuke Saka misunderstood the signal ten seconds before the end of the fifth as the bell and was about to return to his corner with his hands down only to be badly knocked out by Ohashi’s vicious right hook last December.
JBC top contender Minamoto, remarkably in tip-top shape, outspeeded and outpunched the hard-hitting but slower titlist with sharp jabs, accurate one-twos and solid left hooks to make him a bloody mess. After the fifth, the open scoring system indicated the challenger was winning: 50-44, 49-46 twice. As the versatile and vicious Ohashi accelerated his attack and kept stalking the fading champ, the ref Yoshida called it a halt to save the loser.
Having failed to win the national belt from Yukinori Oguni, Ohashi’s stablemate and future world titlist, in his irst attempt in 2015, he fulfilled his dream to seize the national diadem.