Soto stops Takayama, retains WBO 108lb title

Boxing: Saul Alvarez Vs Billy Joe Saunders Fight Night
Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside

In the co-main event in Arlington, TX and live on DAZN as part of the Canelo-Saunders extravaganza, WBO light flyweight champ Elwin Soto (19-1, 12 KOs) out of Baja California, Mexico, retained his belt by ninth round TKO in a hard-fought battle against former multi-time minimumweight champ Katsunari Takayama (32-9,12 KOs hailing from Osaka Japan.

Soto came out like a bull from the opening round and almost dropped Takayama at the beginning of the round and again as the round ended. Takayama however displayed his savvy ring experience and escaped trouble often. In round two, Soto landed another big right early and more power shots at the end. Takayama didn’t have the power to hurt or slow Soto down.

Soto only 24, while the former champ Takayama is 37, and the age difference and power was evident throughout. Soto continuously landed hard power shots, mostly off the right hand. Soto pressured and staggered Takayama as he found a home for the right hand all night, but the game Takayama showed his toughness and even went toe-to-toe with the Soto in round six.

Soto either tired or took off the gas in round seven and eight, but picked it back up in round nine. And after another barrage of solid shots by Soto, referee Laurence Cole waved it off with Takayama still standing. Takayama and his manager Sean Gibbons protested to no avail. Takayama tried to make his point by shadow boxing for several seconds in the middle of the ring.

Soto came in as the heavy 7-1 favorite, as he captured his first world title in June 2019 against Puerto Rican’s Angel Acosta with a twelfth-round knockout with Acosta still on his feet much like Takayama tonight. Takayama had hoped to make another run at a title before he fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.

But instead, the young Mexican, Soto, retained his WBO light flyweight belt with the TKO at 2:44 of round nine of the scheduled twelve. Takayama had only been stopped one other time in his storied career and if this is his last fight, he could walk away proud as he showed his future students what it takes to be a champion in and out of the ring.

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  • If you know boxing you know Laurence Cole ……and not because he’s a great ref

    • Said the exact same thing to my wife when he entered the ring. WORST referee EVER. 🙂

  • You know, even before the fight started, I disliked the fact that Laurence Cole was in the ring, but it’s Texas and he is always given world title fights to ref in Texas. Once again, he has shown why he is the worst ref in the USA. If he felt Takayama was taking too many shots, he should have warned him during the break a round or two before.

  • Once again, lousy Cole found a way to mess up things by not allowing Takayama to go out like a “Boxing Samurai.”

  • Takayama had shipped a monumental amount of punishment during the fight. In the 9th Soto, instead of loading up, like he had been doing, moved to combinations and everything was landing. Takayama’s effort was beyond brave but some fighters may be too brave for their own good and maybe this was one of those where the ref was right. For me, the result of the fight had already been established. While fans are no doubt upset, why must we wait for Takayama to be KTFO and taken out on a stretcher?

    • Soto was hurting in the body, sucking wind between rounds and hardly throwing punches in the second half of the fight. Mexican TV (Box Azteca) had it 78-75 Takayama.

      Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comments, “Colson” — any relation to Laurence Cole, perhaps?

  • I want see againt wiht tito acosta in tito weight out of las vegas of mexico i put my money in tito,

  • I take, not just this fight but, Laurence Cole Jr’s entire career of nepotistic/company man style of officiating. No one has more bad internet press (Youtube, Reddit, Etc.) then this man. I say like father-like son Larry……you have earned it.

  • I feel so bad for Takayama. Came back and then came all the way to Texas from Japan and didn’t even get a real chance because…. Laurence Cole is gonna Luarence Cole. I don’t think it’s likely but I hope Takayama can secure another title shot relatively soon and makes another run at it. He may lose again, but at least he can get a chance.

  • i am tottally flabagasted without losing a blip…Since he wnt up…depite the time. Tames river shrew. Always senior..

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