By Joe Koizumi
WBC#11/WBA#13 Japanese super-feather champ Takashi Miura (18-1-2, 14 KOs), 130, successfully kept his national belt by a shockingly split verdict (96-93, 96-94 and 94-96) over previously unbeaten top contender Seiichi Okada (10-1, 6 KOs), 129.75, over ten hard-fought rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
It greatly stunned the crowd that a judge favored Okada despite such a unanimous-looking contest probably due to his partial preoccupation. The hard-hitting champ took the initiative from the start with his busy, solid and accurate lefts to the face and the midsection, and maintained his pace almost all the way. Miura, who had dethroned another hard-punching southpaw Yoshimitsu Yashiro via TKO victory in a rematch (after a debatable draw), looked sharp and speedy enough to overwhelm game and durable Okada, steadily piling up points. Miura kept battering him up with effective lefts and southpaw right hooks, but Okada occasionally retaliated with a solid body shot at a time, which the judge might have wrongly evaluated too much.
A head-collision midway in the fifth opened a gash under the right eyebrow of the champ, which, however, didn’t bother his constantly accelerated assault. Having absorbed too many southpaw lefts to the face, Okada had the cheek too badly swollen to almost close his left optic in the final session. It was also problematic that the referee too severely deducted a point from the champ for having hit below the belt just once or twice in round eight.
In a companion national title go, WBA#14 Retsuri Lee (AKA Ryol-Li Lee in Korean pronunciation; 15-1-1, 8 KOs), 125.5, a Japan-based Korean born here, acquired the vacant Japanese feather throne as he showed a second wind in later rounds and earned a unanimous nod (97-95, 97-94 and 98-94) over ten free-swinging rounds.
Lee looked quite different from what he upset ex-world challenger and ex-OPBF ruler Hiroyuki Enoki last year, wildly swinging roundhouse blows all night as if there’s no word of “straight” in his dictionary. Probably too nervous and anxious to win the belt, Lee turned a rough fighter, missing and missing great many punches in the first half. Takayama sometimes caught the lanky prefight favorite with solid right crosses to be in command in rounds three, five and six. Lee, an awkward puncher, regained his cool and began to connect with still wild but more accurate shots from the sixth on to confirm his close but unanimous triumph.
This reporter covered the weigh-in of the next day’s dual world title bout in Kobe, three hours by a bullet train and some five hundred miles from Tokyo. There was a telecast of the Japanese national twinbill via cable TV even in Kobe. Wise men say only fools rush back to Tokyo, but this reporter couldn’t help falling in love with watching the highly competitive Miura-Okada title bout on site. The fight itself was more one-sided for Miura than expected, but it was, in a sense, valuable to hear such a problematic vote in favor of Okada who threw much less punches and was much less accurate. Just by watching TV, this observer might not have been able to criticize the debatable tally like this.
Promoter: Yokohama Hikari Promotions.