By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Boxing Beat
WBA minimumweight champ, unbeaten Japanese Ryo Miyazaki (19-0-3, 11 KOs), 105, kept his belt in his initial defense as he dropped Mexican challenger Carlos Velarde (22-3-1, 13 KOs), 104.75, with a vicious left hook to prompt the referee’s intervention at 2:22 of the fifth round on Wednesday in Osaka, Japan.
Miyazaki stands just 5’1”. But he can punch and box. Problem is that he usually weighs some 135 pounds and has to reduce thirty pounds to make the class limit of his world championship. Originally Miyazaki kept fight in the 108-pound category with a perennial weight problem as he might be fit in the 112-pound division. The Japanese puncher, however, was given an opportunity to fight for the vacant WBA minimum throne vacated by his stablemate Kazuto Ioka, so he decided to reduce the weight three pounds more from 108 to 105. He had to fight not only the opponent but the scale.
Miyazaki, formerly Japanese and OPBF 108-pound champ, acquired the WBA belt as he managed to earn a split but well-received verdict over ex-WBA ruler Ponsawan Porpramook on the last day of the previous year. His seizure of the 105-pound throne itself was a mission impossible. Prior to his first defense, as expected, it was said Miyazaki had a serious trouble making the weight, but he very barely could make it. Reportedly he rebounded by more than twelve pounds after the weigh-in.
The shorter champ by two inches made a good start as he positively mixed it up with the Mexican youngster, two years his junior at 22, and scored his trademark left hooks in the close quarter in the opening session. His trainer Kazunori Ioka, the father of Kazuto Ioka, strongly advised him to keep his distance and box more without swapping punches in the close range, since Velarde was good at fighting close to his rival. But Miyazaki loved fighting toe-to-toe with his challenger. The Mexican sometimes scored with good left hooks to the belly and the face in round two, winning a point.
The third saw Velarde almost topple Miyazaki with a well-timed left hook, though the champ fought back hard with solid combinations. It was apparent that the lanky Mexican was in command thanks to precision in combination punching in the session.
They furiously kept exchanging solid left hooks in the close range in the fourth session with Miyazaki being a little more effective and more powerful. But the crowd realized Velarde was a tough challenger and wondered if Miyazaki would be able to handle the young Mexican’s retaliation in later rounds.
Miyazaki, for the first time in the fight, began to keep the distance in round five. Hanging both hands low, Miyazaki occasionally threw flicker jabs and left hooks to befuddle the upright stylist. Then, the champ landed a right followed by an eye-catching left hook, which sent the Mexican prone to the deck with a thud. He was like a flattened pancake. It’s a beautiful one-punch stoppage (as it was registered as a TKO win since the referee halted the affair without bothering to count).
The official tallies were so identical that all the judges scored 38-38 with Jason Garcia (US), Denny Nelson (US) and Danilo Dongo (Peru) in attendance. The referee was Raul Caiz Jr.
Miyazaki was a schoolmate of WBA 108-pound champ Kazuto Ioka. Like Kazuto he was an excellent amateur boxer, winning a national high school championship and registering a good mark of 30-4, 21 stoppages. Miyazaki captured the Japanese 108-pound belt from veteran campaigner Munetsugu Kayo on points in 2009, and then wrested the OPBF throne from compatriot Katsuhiko Iezumi via eighth round TKO the next year. Though Miyazaki kept his OPBF light-fly belt on four occasions, he was forced to make a severe reduction of weight but showed his remarkable recuperative physical power.
There was a famous episode that legendary trainer Ray Arcel helped his bantam pupil Charley Phil Rosenberg reduce no less than 37 pounds in three months in preparation for winning a world belt in 1925. The 5’1” Miyazaki lost 30 pounds to make it. But don’t try to break Rosenberg’s old record as it might be no good for an athlete to make a too excessive reduction of weight. It’s funny Ray Arcel appeared in this boxing-addict’s memory upon the 108-pounder’s one-punch TKO.
Promoter: Ioka Promotions.
WBA supervisor: George Martinez (Canada).