Boxing News

Lee, Espino draw for vacant OPBF 126lb belt

By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Boxing Beat

Ex-WBA super-bantam champ Retsuri Lee (AKA Ryol-Li Lee; 19-3-2, 10 KOs), 126, fought Filipino champ Cirilo Espino (18-11-3, 11 KOs), 125.75, to a split draw (115-113 for Lee, 116-112 for Espino and 114-114) in an OPBF featherweight elimination bout to decide the new titlist over twelve hard-fought rounds on Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan. Lee once dethroned the then WBA 122-pound ruler Poonsawat Kratingdaeng-gym, but failed to retain it in his initial defense against compatriot Akifumi Shimoda, who yielded his title to Rico Ramos, who lost it to Gillermo Rigondeaux. The WBA super-bantam belt thus busily changed hands, so you may forget the ex-champ Lee’s name. Lee, a legitimate featherweight, returned to his original division but revealed an unsteady performance in three bouts since. Lee, the Japan-born Korean, had a tough time coping with free-swinging but less accurate Espino, who kept his aggressiveness regardless of his lack of precision. It was Lee that dominated middle rounds with busy combinations in the close quarter, but Espino fought back hard down the stretch. Lee may face Shogo Ishikawa (who lately defeated Espino by a hairline unanimous decision in Okinawa last November) for the vacant throne with the winner to meet Espino in the first defense, whichever may be victorious.
Promoter: Reason Promotions.

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