WBO#5 Kano halts #14 Sakae

Kano 1
Photo: Boxing Beat

Keeps WBO AP 108lb belt

By Joe Koizumi

It was a very dramatic end on the day of the Olympic Games opening. WBO#5 ranked Japanese southpaw Riku Kano (13-3, 6 KOs), 107.75, impressively kept his WBO Asia Pacific junior flyweight belt when he came off the canvas twice and finally halted WBO#14 Takumi Sakae (22-4-1, 16 KOs), 107.5, at 2:12 of the ninth round on Friday in Osaka, Japan.

As the more experienced challenger Sakae dropped the champ with solid body shots in the second and fifth sessions, people thought it might be a matter of time for Sakae’s victory and coronation.

Kano, four years his junior at 23, furiously fought back hard from the sixth round onward, and brilliantly took back the initiative. The ninth and fatal stanza witnessed Kano batter the fading foe with a flurry of unanswered punches, which caused the ref to logically call a well-received halt.

Prior to the dramatic stoppage, the official tallies were in the challenger’s favor—76-74 twice (Sakae) and 75-75. The Olympic torch on the cauldron was burning devoid of spectators at the newly-built National Stadium in Tokyo, while the fireworks of the small contestants fully entertained the limited crowd at the Edion Arena #2 in Osaka. This fight may be one of the candidates for 2021 Fight of the Year.

Promoter: Taisei Promotions.

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