By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Boxing Beat
WBA minimumweight champ Ryo Miyazaki (20-0-3, 11 KOs), 105, Japan, barely kept his belt as he eked out a hairline majority decision over interim titlist Jesus Silvestre (27-4, 20 KOs), 105, from Mexico, over twelve sizzling rounds on Wednesday in Osaka, Japan. Erkki Meronen (Finland) and Ignacio Robles (Panama) saw the hard-fought battle 115-114 and 115-113 respectively, both for the defending champ Miyazaki, and Reina Urbaez (Venezuela) saw it 114-114. The referee was Lahcen Oumghar (Netherland).
It was such a close affair that Miyazaki was seemingly winning with his better precision—not with the volume of his punches—until after the ninth canto, but Silvestre swept the last three sessions with his last surge. Problem was whether Miyazaki, three inches shorter at 5’1”, had been leading more than three points after the ninth prior to the Mexican’s desperate retaliation.
The loser and ex-interim titlist Silvestre, a lanky but hard-punching boy at 23, gloomily said after the contest, “The decision wasn’t logical as I should have been the winner. With ten more seconds I could have knocked him down, but couldn’t. I want a revancha (rematch).”
The gory winner bleeding from gashes over both eyebrows reflected the tough game, saying, “I couldn’t see well from the tenth round on. It wasn’t my best performance, but made my best effort.” Looking at the face, Miyazaki looked like a Vito Antuofermo, a Carmen Basilio, and a Gene Fullmer in the Club of Bleeders. Even though his lacerations were obviously caused by accidental butts, not by legal punches, Miyazaki’s still bleeding and swollen face looked as if he was a bad loser.
Miyazaki, a short but sturdy boxer-puncher, was a classmate of the current WBA 108-pound ruler Kazuto Ioka in Kokoku high school, when Ioka gained six national championships, while Miyazaki one in the flyweight class. His amateur mark was 30-4, 21 stoppages. Ryo entered the paid ranks earlier than Ioka who went to Tokyo Agricultural University—with a coach he respected so greatly. That’s Ioka’s father Kazunori Ioka. Even now Ioka and Miyazaki are so intimate as if they are real brothers.
Miyazaki used to be such a bad boy that he was forced into a reform school, while Ioka was a modest good boy. Ioka’s father wholeheartedly took care of the enfant terrible that grew up only with his mother. Boxing had such power to cultivate a bad youngster into a good person.
Miyazaki, ex-OPBF champ with three defenses, acquired the vacant WBA 105-pound belt renounced by Ioka when he earned a split but well-received verdict over ex-champ Pornsawan Porpramook, a durable Thailander, in a hard-fought elimination bout in Osaka last December. He registered a successful defense by stopping Mexican Carlos Velarde with a solid left hook in the fifth round this May.
Silvestre, two years his junior at 23, gained the interim WBA belt by defeating Edwin Diaz on points in July of the previous year and kept it once by halting Japan’s Takuya Mitamura in four give-and-take rounds in Mexico last October. Silvestre, however, had unfortunate credentials abroad as he tasted a couple of setbacks in as many foreign contests, as he suffered a TKO defeat by future WBO champ Donnie Nietes in the Philippines in 2010 and failed to win the WBA 105-pound throne, losing a unanimous nod to Paipharob Kokietgym in Thailand in the next year.
The opening session saw each throw solid punches from the outset, as Miyazaki connected with a double left from the side of the belly to the face, while the Mexican unleashed a long overhand right to the much shorter champ. They often made head-collisions in the bout, but it was only Miyazaki that sustained bad lacerations. The first butt happened midway in round two, when the Japanese champ had a nasty cut over the left eyebrow, which kept bleeding until the end.
The taller and younger Mexican was a good body puncher that landed heavy shots to the crouching champ, who occasionally retaliated with a few but strong left-right combinations. A judge saw Silvestre win three rounds to one in the first four sessions, and the other two agreed with their having taken each two points.
Reviewing the fifth through ninth sessions, the officials favored Miyazaki’s fewer but more accurate combos rather than Silvestre’s greater volume of punches with less precision. Miyazaki hit a punch at a time, but his strong overhand right caught the aggressive Mexican though the champ’s bleeding apparently became so deteriorated that it hampered his view without doubt.
The tenth saw a bad collision of heads happen again with Miyazaki streaming blood from a wide and deep cut over the right optic. The champ was so grotesquely bleeding from both gashes that his local adherents were afraid of a possible stoppage. The third man was generous enough to allow them to go on swapping punches until the end.
Silvestre was in complete command in the last three rounds, and showed his very best in round eleven. He almost toppled the fading and bleeding champ with a wicked left hook, which almost had the champ lose his equilibrium with the legs sagging badly. Miyazaki barely withstood Silvestre’s furious attack.
Throughout the game, Silvestre’s flaw was obvious. It was his lack of precision since he had a poor judgment of distance. Probably he didn’t keep his cool in throwing combinations as he didn’t rightly watch his target. With more composure Silvestre’s attack would have been more accurate and more effective enough to definitely hurt the champ whose face was nothing but a bloody mess.
It was a brutal give-and-take combat where they displayed all they had. Having reduced no less than thirty pounds, Miyazaki finally made the weight and thus barely kept his belt with his heart. His footwork stopped midway in the bout, but his fighting spirit worked down the stretch.
The Japanese Antuofermo may take a rest after such a hard battle. He had better improve his defense to withdraw from the notorious Club of Bleeders.
Promoter: Ioka Promotions.
WBA supervisor: Alan Kim (Korea).