By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
WBC super-bantam champ Toshiaki Nishioka (36-4-3, 23 KO’s), 122, impressively kept his belt as he scored his fourth defense, all by KO, by halting previously unbeaten Filipino challenger Balweg Bangoyan (15-1, 6 KO’s), 122, at 1:14 of the fifth round on Friday in Tokyo, Japan.
Nishioka, a sharp-shooting Japanese southpaw, caught the game and reckless Filipino with his trademark left hand and badly dropped him in the beginning of the fifth. Bangoyan looked seriously hurt with rubbery legs though he resumed fighting. The champ immediately swarmed over the fading opponent to prompt the referee’s well-received stoppage.
Nishioka, of course, had been a prohibitive prefight favorite due to his superior credentials. The 33-year-old Japanese southpaw registered three impressive victories over such Mexican challengers as Genaro Garcia (TKO12), Jhonny Gonzalez (KO3) and Ivan Hernandez (TKO3). Bangoyan, ten years his junior at 23, only gained the WBC international super-bantam belt twice to his credit—but not to as much credit as Nishioka’s. The Japanese veteran hard-puncher stunned the Mexican crowd with his one-punch demolition of ex-world champ Jhonny Gonzalez to have improved the evaluations on him.
Nishioka began to be in command from the first round, when he aggressively threw sharp right-left southpaw combinations to have Bangoyan bewildered by his speed and power. The unbeaten Filipino was on the defensive even in round two, but he once landed a vicious right to the champ’s button and almost stunned Nishioka, who desperately managed to clinch the challenger to keep him from following it up. It was since then that Nishioka paid his respect to the rather unheralded challenger nicknamed “Davao Hitman.” It was true that Bangoyan, with good muscled torsor, could punch with a big right.
Soundly keeping his distance, the champ often connected with long southpaw lefts to the awkward challenger in the third. Bangoyan sometimes threw roundhouse lefts and rights, but couldn’t catch the elusive target only to hit the air.
Referee Gelacio Perez from Mexico, in round four, penalized a point from Bangoyan for repeated low blows. Though losing the round, the Filipino youngster occasionally threw very strong right hooks to the southpaw champ, though, without precision.
The WBC open scoring system indicated that Nishioka was leading on points after the fourth: 40-35, 39-36 and 38-37, all in favor of the lefty champ.
The fifth witnessed Nishioka land his strongest left of the night to the center of the face with full power. Down he went. Wobblingly he barely regained his feet, but it looked obvious it might be a matter of time. His legs couldn’t soundly support the challenger. Nishioka kept boring in to finish the affair with a barrage of solid shots to the crouching stylist. No mas. The referee Perez declared a halt with finest timing which was well-received by the whole crowd.
Nishioka who made his fourth defense coolly said, “Bangoyan could punch. As he had predicted, he made a do-or-die attack against me. So, I became careful from the second round and properly kept the distance to hurt him since then. I’m happy to score four straight defenses by knockout.”
Bangoyan simply admitted the champ’s strength and skillfulness, saying, “Nishioka was fast and strong. It wasn’t my night. I’ll train harder to have another opportunity to fight for the world title again.”
Nishioka, though 33, still becomes better and stronger in every fight. His Gonzalez victory in Mexico apparently gained his confidence, and looks forward to meeting a name challenger in his next defense.