By Joe Koizumi
WBA super-fly champ Nobuo Nashiro (13-1-1, 8 KOs), 115, Japan, kept his belt as he battled a grueling fight en route to a split draw with ex-WBO 108-pound ruler Hugo Cazares (30-6-2, 22 KOs), 114, from Mexico, over hard-fought twelve rounds on Wednesday in Osaka, Japan. The official tallies read: Wontak Yoon (Korea) 116-112 for Nashiro, Albert Wilenski (US) 112-116 for Cazares and Philippe Verbeke (Belgium) 114-114. The referee was Hubert Earle (Canada) who handled the non-stop scrappy contest very well.
It was a see-saw affair in the first eight sessions, but Nashiro went forward and scored with solid straight rights to the fading Mexican down the stretch. The partisan audience believed in Nashiro’s victory, but the two officials might have evaluated Cazares’ greater volumes of punches, if not accurate, in earlier rounds. The last round saw Nashiro explode a very strong right to the face to have Cazares staggering to the ropes.
Nashiro, the shorter but sturdy champ, made a good start as he started applying the pressure to the circling Mexican switch-hitter, and scored solid rights and left hooks in the opening session. Cazares, four years his senior at 31, turned loose from the second, throwing more combinations to the peek-a-boo stylist who landed a punch at a time in the second and third.
The fourth was a difficult round to tally, as Cazares, busily switching from orthodox to southpaw, remained aggressive, regardless of precision, in the first half, but it was Nashiro that connected with stronger shots to the bewildered face of the Mexican veteran in the second half. This reporter had it for Nashiro, but might accept a different view as to who had an edge in this session.
The fifth saw Nashiro effectively land stinging lefts and strong left-right combinations upstairs and downstairs to have Cazares backpedaling and circling. It was clearly the champ’s round.
The Mexican, in round six, switched to southpaw stance, and threw good uppercuts to the champ, who averted most of them with the gloves but was temporarily forced to be on the defensive. Nashiro, however, showed sharp jabs to bounce the face back and landed some solid blows to the game Cazares. It was another round in which the judges actually differed from another opinion.
Cazares was in command in the seventh and eighth, when he displayed not so accurate but busier combos to the onrushing but not so aggressive champ. After the eighth, Cazares seemed to be leading by two points, while Nashiro hurt him with stronger but fewer punches.
The tide almost turned in the ninth, when Cazares began to show his fatigue probably due to his fast pace in earlier rounds, plus his ill-effect of having drastically gained no less than fifteen pounds after the weigh-in. He visibly became slower and less pugnacious, while Nashiro released solid jabs and left-right combos to the fading Mexican hombre.
Cazares, however, showed his gameness in trying to take back the initiative in swapping punches (especially left and right uppercuts) in the tenth, when Nashiro effectively landed a strong one-two combination and followed up with solid combinations to frustrate the Mexican challenger in the tenth.
As expected, the Japanese champ began to display his trademark last surge thanks to his vaunted abundant stamina in round eleven. He kept stalking the fading Mexican with a flurry of punches and connected with good rights to the face and the belly. His body shots looked effective enough to deprive Cazares of his energy left.
The shaven-skulled Japanese champ, in the last session, accelerated his attack to hurt the apparently fading Mexican. Nashiro unleashed a very strong right to have him reeling to the ropes. Cazares would have fallen without the ropes supporting his body. Nashiro was all out for a kill, maintaining the pressure onto the breathless challenger. With another minute Nashiro could have caught the Mexican veteran switch-hitter who might have not realized in which stance—orthodox or southpaw—he was fighting. Cazares truly showed his corazon (heart) to last the round.
Nashiro opened a cut at the eyelid by legal punches with his final assault, and Cazares was streaming red ribbon over the left side of the face in the final stanza.
Reviewing the scorecards after the furious battle, this observer found that Cazares was in command on two cards after the eighth; 78-74, 77-75 and 76-76. The first interim tally seemed a little too much in favor of the Mexican even if the judge appreciated Cazares’ busier combinations even with little precision. He rendered two rounds to each in the ninth through twelfth, and finally scored 116-112 for Cazares. The second judge gave three rounds to Nashiro and one to Cazares out of the last four sessions, so it resulted in 114-114. The last judge rendered all the last four to the more aggressive and more effective Nashiro, and his tally read 116-112 for the defending champ.
Scoring in boxing may be subjective. Furthermore, there has been a worldwide inclination to score even a hairline round to either. It may be partly understandable that if neither was more effective, a point may be given to the more aggressive boxer who threw more blows even on the gloves or the shoulder/elbow as he displayed more action in that round. However, it might need our discussion which boxer should be given a point: a busier but less accurate boxer or a less aggressive but more effective boxer. Depending on your philosophy, the fourth, sixth and tenth may be given to either of the combatants.
This reporter saw Nashiro win by 115-113, but such a close margin might be debatable under the current ten-point must system, or the aforementioned tendency that even a very close (nearly even) round has been forced to be given to either. Even if all your punches were perfectly blocked, you may be given a point if you threw more punches than the other who was not effective, neither. The currently forced distribution of a point to either in any round may apparently discount and disgrace the importance of a point in the boxing game. As shown in this bout, it was only six rounds that all the judges agreed with. In the other six rounds their views were different.
Many Nashiro adherents claimed the champ’s victory, but some others more evaluated Cazares’ aggressiveness in earlier rounds even though they admitted Nashiro’s obvious last surge.
It was entertaining to watch such a give-and-take fight with the contestants exchanging the initiative throughout the bout. Both showed their best, and both should be praised with their efforts and strategies to win the belt. Since it was a drawn game, there was no winner, but the victor was boxing itself, as boxing really proved so interesting and so exciting.
Up-and-coming Mikio Yasuda (15-4-2, 12 KOs), 119.5, impressively dispatched WBC#15 ex-WBC flyweight champ Medgoen Singsurat (63-6, 44 KOs), 118.75, the man who previously knocked out and dethroned Manny Pacquiao in 1999, at 1:23 of the second round.
Promoter: Mutoh Promotions in association with Teiken Promotions.