By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Boxing Beat
Unbeaten Japanese Ryo Miyazaki (18-0-3, 10 KOs), 105, acquired the vacant WBA minimumweight belt as he earned a split but popular verdict (116-111, 116-112 and 113-114) over ex-WBA ruler Pornsawan Porpramook (27-5-1, 17 KOs), 104, Thailand, over twelve hard-fought rounds on Monday in Osaka, Japan.
Sergio Caiz (US) and Wansoo Yuh (Korea) saw the see-saw affair 116-111 and 116-112, both for Miyazaki, and Levi Martinez (US) had it 114-113 for Porpramook. The referee was Brad Vocale (Australia).
The belt had been renounced by his stablemate Kazuto Ioka who outgrew the division, and the OPBF (Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation) champ Miyazaki, ranked #2 by the WBA, was authorized to participate in an elimination bout to decide the new titlist. But his contestant was the durable and dangerous ex-champ nicknamed “Thai Terminator.”
As expected, it became a total war. Against expectations, however, Miyazaki, originally a rugged fighter, didn’t put on a face-to-face mix-up but attempted to outbox and outleg the persistent infighter. Miyazaki’s strategy eventually resulted in a success now that he acquired the vacant throne, though he couldn’t satisfy the spectators that had expected his usual rough-and-tumble infighting.
From the start, Miyazaki, ten years his junior at 24, utilized his quick jabs and footwork to the slow starter, winning the first three rounds with ease. He displayed his new style well. Pornsawan, whom we remember very well in his title-losing extravaganza with Akira Yaegashi last year (that ESPN called the Fight of the Year in 2011), finished warming up his engine and started busily throwing versatile combinations from all angle. They were not so fast but persistent—throughout the contest.
Pornsawan maintained the pressure on Miyazaki in the fourth, when he badly shook him up with a well-timed right to the face. The next fifth was also dominated by the aggressive Thailander, an inch taller than the short but sturdy Japanese who had retained his OPBF light-flyweight belt on four occasions to his credit.
Miyazaki had a perennial weight problem even when he was the 108-pound regional champ, and people were worried about his availability to make the lower 105-pound limit and fight as vigorously as usual. Probably therefore, Miyazaki adopted his new hit-and-run style without mixing it up and with countering well. Miyazaki was in command in round six, when he effectively scored solid left hooks to the willing mixer.
It was Pornsawan, however, that fought back hard to win the seventh and eighth without doubt. The Thai Terminator kept on stalking and attacking the Japanese footworker regardless of precision in the seventh. He was apparently more aggressive in the eighth, sometimes pinning the shorter Japanese to the ropes with a barrage of punches. Although open scoring system wasn’t used in this game, it proved later after the fight that it was deadly even at this point of the processing—77-75, 75-77 and 76-76.
It eventually became a four-round battle, though both corners didn’t know exact tallies but only probably realized that it was close. It was Miyazaki that dominated the ninth session by hitting without getting hit by the ex-champ.
The tenth was a little problematic. The referee penalized a point from Pornsawan who had kept punching with Miyazaki holding his head with both arms. The crowd couldn’t realize why the Thailander was deducted a point, but it was later explained that the third man called “break” but the Thailander couldn’t hear it or couldn’t understand his instructions but continued punching the midsection of Miyazaki. In such a close fight, the one-point deduction seemed significant to decide the outcome. After the fight, the Thailander’s manager Niwat Laosuwanwat strongly made a protest against the point deduction.
The tenth itself was so close that two judges rendered it to Pornsawan and one to Miyazaki. The Thai Terminator sustained a slight gash over the left eyebrow caused by an accidental butt.
It was Miyazaki in the eleventh that showed his best and almost drop the damaged ex-champ. His left hook caught him rightly and Pornsawan’s legs almost buckled with bad effect. The Japanese was all out to finish it and bring home the bacon, but the Terminator barely endured his desperate attack and lasted the critical moment.
In the final session each showed the best to swap punching toe-to-toe to hear the bell to end the furious fight. Whenever Pornsawan fights, it becomes a hard battle since he is such a type of absorbing some punches in order to hit one strong shot. It was the difference of defensive skills that distinguished the winner from the loser. Miyazaki was good at averting the ex-champ’s persistent attacks, while Pornsawan occasionally blocked his punches with his hard-boiled face.
Miyazaki is one of the shortest world champ out of Japan—only 155 cm (5 feet 1 inch), if not so short as great flyweight champ Pascual Perez of Argentina (who dethroned our first world champ Yoshio Shirai in 1954). But he is an energetic puncher. When twelve, he was such a bad street fighter that he was sent to a reform school. After coming out of it, his teacher advised him to utilize his brutal power in sweet science and introduced him to Ioka Boxing Club. It was Kazunori Ioka (world champ Kazuto’s father) that taught him how to box along with his son, and Miyazaki won the national high school championship in the flyweight class when in the second grade in Kokoku high school.
His amateur mark was 30-4, 21 stoppages. Though his good clubmate Kazuto went up to Tokyo from Osaka and entered Tokyo Agricultural University to continue his amateur career to be an Olympian (though he failed), Miyazaki turned professional earlier than Ioka in 2009. For your reference, Ioka’s amateur mark was so excellent as 95-10, 64 stoppages including some controversial decisions (that people say Ioka should have been a winner).
His mother Emiko, 50, was divorced when Miyazaki was an elementary school student. She worked in a life insurance company and brought up three siblings. The new champ said in the ring after the victory, “Thank you, mother, for bringing me to this world.” Then, she emotionally cried and Miyazaki kept crying for joy after he was declared a winner and new champ. It was like a melodrama.
Miyazaki will be obliged to face WBA interim champ Jesus Silvestre in his initial defense.
WBA supervisor: Yangsup Shim.
Promoter: Ioka Promotions.