By Joe Koizumi
An old boxer’s farewell to the squared circle is always sad and sentimental, and it happened tonight (Saturday) at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. WBC no.10/WBA no.11 OPBF lightweight champ, 34-year-old Japanese veteran Kengo Nagashima (38-4-2, 18 KOs), 135, lost his regional belt when he hit the deck twice and suffered a shocking TKO defeat at the hand of ex-national ruler Ryuji Migaki (14-2, 10 KOs), 134.75, at 2:07 of the tenth round in a scheduled twelve rounder.
Though it was a see-saw affair, Nagashima had been leading on points after the ninth: 86-85 twice for him and 84-87 for Migaki.
After they fought on almost even terms in the first three rounds, Migaki’s smashing right caught the southpaw champ to temporarily flatten him in the fourth, though Nagashima gamely regained his feet and resumed fighting. It was amazing to see Nagashima so quickly recuperate from a bad visit to the deck to dominate a couple of rounds from the fifth.
However, Nagashima became apparently slowing down, often slipping down to the deck because of his weakened leg power. Migaki, formerly an amateur boxer of Komazawa university, accelerated his attack and wore him down with his busier combinations in rounds eight and nine. The fatal tenth witnessed Migaki’s combos catch the visibly fading champ and had him go down again. Furiously and ferociously did Migaki swarm over the groggy champ as he barely stood up and went on fighting. Referee Vinny Martin, ex-Japanese 154-pound champ from Ghana, didn’t bother to call a halt just before Nagashima collapsed prone onto the deck.
We just wonder why his father Kiyoshi Nagashima, the promoter and manager, booked such a dangerous challenger as Migaki in a voluntary second defense after acquiring the vacant belt by decisively defeating Filipino Randy Suico last March. Migaki had forfeited his national belt to Akihiro Kondo in just 45 seconds of the opening session last August, but had dethroned then world-rated Ichitaro Ishii on a ninth round stoppage in April of the previous year. Migaki was a methodical but hard-hitting and aggressive boxer-puncher who expectedly had a possibility of upsetting the slick-punching champ. Papa Nagashima’s overconfidence and underestimation of Migaki might account for the upset happening.
Nagashima, whose amateur mark was 80-10, 28 stoppages, turned professional under his father’s management in 1995. Since then, he seized the national and the OPBF belts both in the 130-pound and 135-pound categories thanks to his excellent speed and southpaw skills, though never hard-punching. He once had an ambitious shot at the WBC super-feather belt against Thailander Sirimongkol Singwangcha in an eliminator, which miserably ended in just two rounds in 2002. He was willing to have his second world title crack, but it might be very certain that he will hang up gloves for good.
JBC no.8 light Hiroshi Nakamori (26-2-1, 15 KOs), 138.5, put on a free-swinging performance with JBC no.8 super-light Daisuke Sakamoto (5-3-1, 2 KOs), 139, and earned a hairline nod (all 77-76) over eight. Unbeaten ex-national high school champ Ryosuke Iwasa (6-0, 4 KOs), 118, scored a shutout decision (all 80-72) by sweeping all rounds against OPBF no.10 and ex-PABA ruler Marvin Tampus (21-11-2, 13 KOs), 117.75, over eight. Iwasa, a 20-year-old tall and hard-hitting southpaw handled by ex-WBA 115-pound champ Celes Kobayashi, looked promising.
Promoter: 18 Koga Promotions.
Matchmaker: Joe Koizumi (as for the Iwasa-Tampus bout).