By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda (to come soon)
37-year-old South African Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26 KOs), 112, retained his IBF flyweight belt when he finally caught three-division champ Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16 KOs), 112, Japan, with the referee Mario Gonzalez’s intervention at 2:54 of the ninth round on Monday in Yokohama, Japan.
Utilizing his fast footwork, Yaegashi took the leadoff in earlier rounds. But Mthalane took back the pace and badly hurt the Japanese, 36, with heavier shots to the face and the belly from the seventh on. In the eighth round Moruti had Akira in serious trouble, pinning him to the ropes with a fusillade of punches. It was Mthalane in the fatal ninth that turned loose and almost toppled the groggy challenger, when the third man called a halt.
Prior to the stoppage: Jonathan Davis (Philippines) 76-76, Kazutoshi Yoshida (Japan) 77-76 and Deon Dwarte (South Africa) 78-74, both in favor of Mthalane.
(More to come)