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Naito follows his father’s footstep to win Japanese belt

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat

When Muhammad Ali visited Japan, he advised a fast-rising Japanese middleweight prospect named Cassius Junichi Naito, “If you are named after me, you wouldn’t go over me.” Ali’s prediction came true as Naito acquired the Japanese and OPBF belts but failed to grow up to be a world champ. It’s a story in 1970’s and his 22-year-old son now followed his father’s footstep and won the Japanese belt on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. Unbeaten Rikki Naito (9-0, 5 KOs), 130, a southpaw speedster, won the vacant national super-feather title by a well-received stoppage over badly battered Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (22-7-2, 11 KOs), 130, at the end of the eighth round.

Naito made good use of southpaw jabs to outmaneuver the more experienced adversary, steadily piling up points as the contest progressed. The open scoring system (which was experimentally applied to national title bouts from this year and the tallies are to be announced after the fifth session in a ten-round bout) showed Naito’s nearly lopsided dominance of the elimination bout: 50-46 and 50-45 twice. Having Matsuzaki at bay time and again, Naito, an upright footworker, couldn’t follow up to finish the shaky victim in round seven, and his corner finally decided not to allow the loser to go on after the eighth session. The decision should have done a bit earlier since Matsuzaki had absorbed too much punishment without any substantial retaliation.

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In the main event, WBC#9/WBA#6 up-and-coming southpaw Shingo Wake (16-4-2, 9 KOs), 122, easily kept his OPBF super-bantam throne as he quickly dispatched Japan-based Filipino Jovy Katsumata (10-3, 4 KOs), 122, at 1:14 of the second round. Wake, a tall lefty who dethroned Yukinori Oguni via upset TKO last year, thus scored three defenses all within the distance and displayed his improvement by dropping the Filipino face first with a compact countering left twice and for the count. We wish to watch a rematch of Wake and ex-champ Oguni on his comeback trail, which will be a good competition.
Promoter: Reason Promotions.




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