By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Sumio Yamada
WBC superflyweight champ Tomas Rojas (35-12-1-1NC, 23 KOs), 115, a Mexican southpaw footworker, barely kept his belt as he managed to avert furious attacks of Japanese challenger Nobuo Nashiro (14-3-1, 9 KOs), 115, and earned a hairline decision over twelve Tom-and-Jerry rounds on Saturday in Osaka, Japan. The decision was close but unanimous: Hubert Minn (US) 114-113, Jaebong Kim (Korea) 116-113 and Edward Kugler (US) 116-111, all in favor of the lanky Mexican. The referee was Rocky Burke (US).
The 5’8” Rojas, three inches taller than Nashiro, began to stick and move and seemed to take the initiative from the outset. Nashiro, a shorter infighter, kept stalking the elusive champ and took a point with a two-fisted attack in round three, but Rojas took back the pace with his hit-and-run tactics in the fourth. The WBC open scoring system indicated: 39-37 twice for Rojas and 38-38.
Nashiro, ex-WBA ruler a year his junior at 29, attempted to throw punches in combination, but the champ’s elusiveness averted them even if his defensive skills didn’t impress the crowd so much. Nashiro kept attacking the Fancy Dan and was in command in round seven.
A head-collision appeared to have damaged the champ’s bridge of the nose, which profusely and grotesquely bled since then. Nashiro was penalized a point because of the accidental headbutt.
After the eighth, the official tallies were announced: 76-75, 78-75 and 78-73, all for Rojas.
It was Nashiro that accelerated his attack from the eleventh rounds onward. The ninth witnessed Nashiro’s right shot bounce off the chin of the champ, but Rojas didn’t allow the Japanese challenger to repeat it again with his shifty footwork and body movement. Nashiro threw many punches to the skillful champ in the tenth and eleventh, when Rojas cleverly averted them, though he failed to land good shots to the onrushing challenger.
Rojas, in the last session, concentrated on keeping his lead on points without taking any risk, and refused to mix it up only to stick and move to wait for the bell to end the round and the fight as well.
Rojas simply expressed his pleasure after a victory, saying, “I’m happy to have defended my belt here in Japan. Nashiro was tough and strong, but I could outbox him with my speed and skills.”
Nashiro didn’t seem to be happy with the verdict. “I thought I won, since I kept stalking and attacking him. I seldom received any good shots from Rojas. Even if I missed many punches, I remained much more aggressive than Rojas. I want a rematch.”
Some ringsider uniquely described Rojas’ style, saying, “I have believed that Mexico is full of gallant warriors, but I was amazed tonight to see there’s such a negative and defensive boxer as Rojas.”
OPBF bantam ruler Malcolm Tunacao (28-2-3, 17 KOs), 117.5, halted late substitute, WBC#9 Daigo Nakahiro (21-4-1, 8 KOs), 117.5, at 2:32 of the sixth session.
Unbeaten super-fly prospect Hirofumi Mukai (5-0, no KO), 115, proved faster as he outspeeded and outpunched hard-hitting Filipino veteran Sonny Boy Jaro (31-10-5, 20 KOs), 116, winning a lopsided decision (99-92 twice and 99-93) over ten.
WBC supervisor: Major Lee Wonbok (Korea).
Promoter: Teiken Promotions in association with Muto Promotions.