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Kato keeps Japanese 135lb belt

By Joe Koizumi

OPBF#1 ranked Japanese lightweight champ Yoshitaka Kato (23-4-1, 7 KOs), 135, looked very fine as he kept his national belt by annihilating top contender Shoji Kawase (29-5-5, 17 KOs), 134.25, by dropping him with a vicious right cross three times to chalk up a well-received stoppage at 2:53 of the fifth round on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. Kato, making his third defense, sent the challenger to the deck twice in the fourth and once more in the fatal fifth, when the ref didn’t hesitate to call a halt. Kato, whose idol is Kostya Tszyu, had been regarded as a busy but not-so-dangerous puncher, but he looked like a Thunder from Down Under this night.

Former kick-boxing bantam champ Kenji Kubo, 117.75, made a successful debut by defeating former WBA world challenger Nouldy Manakane (24-13-1, 15 KOs), 117.5, by a unanimous decision (59-55, 60-55 and 60-54) over six. The still 23-year-old prospect’s future is worth watching. His kick-boxing mark had been 21-5, 13 stoppages.

Promoter: Kadoebi Jewel Promotions.

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