By Joe Koizumi
Newly crowned WBC featherweight champ Takahiro Aoh (17-1-1, 8 KOs), a 25-year-old Japanese southpaw, will risk his belt against official challenger Elio Rojas (20-1, 13 KOs), Dominican Republic, in his first defense in Tokyo, Japan, on July 14. Aoh, formerly six-time national high school champ, impressively captured the throne via lopsided decision over veteran Mexican warrior Oscar Larios in a grudge fight this March. Rojas, a vastly talented prospect, 26, once dropped a highly debatable split decision to Mexican Gamaliel Diaz in an eliminator in July 2007, but scored a nearly shutout decision over top contender Hector Velazquez in Biloxi, Mississippi, last September. Aoh said before many people at the press conference, “I welcome this opportunity to defend my belt against the strong challenger. I’ll fight as if I were a challenger.” It will be a highly competitive encounter of the young and fresh speedsters to be staged by Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions.
On a split-site telecast by Nippon TV, a world title twinbill will take place in Kobe city. WBC bantam kingpin Hozumi Hasegawa (26-2, 10 KOs), a formidable Japanese lefty, will engage in his ninth defense against fast-rising prospect Nestor Rocha (21-1, 7 KOs), US, over twelve rounds. Also, unbeaten WBA minimum ruler Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (23-0, 20 KOs), Nicaragua, still 21, will put his belt on the line against ex-WBA/WBC 105-pound champ Katsunari Takayama (23-3, 9 KOs), a fast-moving Japanese footworker, in the first title go there. This show will be presented by Shinsei Promotions. All look interesting enough.