Yoshino halts Saito to keep Japanese 135lb belt

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Unbeaten Japanese lightweight champ Shuichiro Yoshino (7-0, 5 KOs), 135, very quickly kept his national belt as he made short work of mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5 KOs), 134.75, at 2:36 of the opening session in a scheduled ten on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan.

Yoshino, whose amateur mark was 104-20, 55 stoppages, acquired the vacant title by stopping veteran campaigner Spicy Matsushita in seven rounds last October, and it was his initial defense, where he displayed his power-punching in dropping him with a vicious right cross midway of the first round. Though the taller challenger barely resumed fighting on, Yoshio caught up with the shaky opponent and battered him from all angles, which prompted the referee Fukuchi’s intervention. Yoshino had won four championships in the high school tournaments.

The semi-windup saw WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight titlist Hiroaki Teshigawara (16-2-2, 9 KOs), 117.25, retained his regional belt in his first defense when he eked out a close but unanimous verdict (115-113 twice, 116-112) over game and gallant Filipino Jason Canoy (27-8-2, 19 KOs), 118, over hard-fought twelve. It’s really a see-saw affair with the tide almost turning in every round, but Teshigawara, handled by former WBA 154-pound champ Koichi Wajima, showcased a little more aggressiveness down the stretch than Canoy to be awarded a hairline decision.

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