By Joe Koizimi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
WBC 122-pound champ Toshiaki Nishioka (37-4-3, 23 KOs), 121, Japan, kept his belt in his fifth defense as he displayed all he had and pounded out a hard-fought but eventually lopsided decision over official challenger Rendall Munroe (21-2, 9 KOs), 120.25, UK, over twelve furious rounds on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan.
The official verdict was identically 119-109 by all judges of James Jen-Kin (US), David Sutherland (US) and Alejandro Rochin (Mexico). The referee was Guadalupe Garcia (Mexico).
It was the 34-year-old champ’s career-best performance, even though he failed to extend his KO streak in title defenses. In an encounter of good southpaws Nishioka showed his finesse and flash in coping with the willing mixer from England, where he was called Britain’s most famous binman. The binman collected our people’s admirations here, but not the world belt from the champ.
Nishioka started fireworks from the outset, utilizing faster southpaw jabs and quick right-left combinations to take the initiative in the opening session. The Japanese maintained the pressure on the game but still nervous challenger, piling up points with quicker hands. After the fourth, the open scoring system indicated 40-36 and 39-37 twice in favor of the champ.
Munroe, a confident young man at 30, attempted to accelerate his attack from the fifth, but it was Nishioka that turned more aggressive in scoring left crosses to the other southpaw and connecting with left uppercuts to the belly. The slick-punching champ looked to have found the range and rhythm to control the willing mixer, who unfortunately and probably unexpectedly couldn’t catch the elusive target until the end.
The seventh saw Nishioka almost freeze Munroe with a vicious body shot, but the British challenger barely survived the critical moment. It’s since then that Nishioka very positively began to aim at the breadbasket, which visibly paid off and weakened the still game and gallant challenger. The second scores announced after the eighth on the open scoring system were 79-73 by all the judges. It meant Munroe would have to win more than six points –in order to win–in the last four rounds.
It, therefore, made sense that Munroe desperately attempted to turn loose and turn the tide from the ninth on. But it was Nishioka that swept the last four sessions by showing his superior skills, speed and fighting spirit as well. Nishioka, in the final session, accelerated his attack, pinned the binman to the ropes and had him at bay with a flurry of punches.
Before the bout commence it had been regarded as a very competitive game of the excellent southpaw 122-pounders. But it resulted in such a one-sided affair on the tallies. Why? Nishioka was simply faster and cleverer than Munroe who engaged in his first world title bout. The Japanese southpaw had failed to win the WBC bantam belt, losing twice and drawing twice with the same champ named Veeraphol Nakhornluang-Promotion of Thailand. He also had his Achilles’ tendon ruptured so that he was forced to be inactive for thirteen months. By overcoming various hardships Nishioka became mentally (and probably physically too) strong enough to eventually welcome his coronation in the 122-pound category.
Nishioka jubilantly said, “I really appreciate your warm supports, with which behind me I could defeat such a tough and strong challenger. I’d like to dedicate this valuable victory to all.” Through his tough life experience, Nishioka has apparently become a good person and good champion. This reporter sees good talents in Munroe for him to become world champ in the future.
Ex-champ Jorge Linares (30-1, 19 KOs), 133, decked his third comebacking bout as also ex-titlist Jesus “El Matador” Chavez (44-8, 30 KOs), 133, retired on the stool after the fourth round. Linares proved too fast and snappy for the declining Mexican from the outset, and it was a matter of time for the Japan-based Venezuelan, still 25, to finish the veteran. Chavez complained of his pain on the left shoulder and didn’t pay any effort to raise himself out of the stool.
Unbeaten Yoshihiro Kamegai (17-0, 15 KOs), 143, finely knocked out ex-champ Jose Alfaro (24-7, 21 KOs), 142, with the referee tolling the fatal ten at his first visit to the deck at 2:36 of the sixth round. Alfaro absorbed much punishment in every round, and abruptly sat down due to his accumulation of punches in the fatal round. The referee Asao kept counting, while watching the Nicaraguan who knelt down. Alfaro turned to his cornermen downstairs, as if he was asking whether to go or not. The third man coolly counted him out because Alfaro didn’t show his willingness to go on. The ex-champ strongly claimed that he could have gone on, but his demonstration of his will was simply too late to appeal to the referee.
WBA#8 Japanese bantam champ Shinsuke Yamanaka (13-0-2, 9 KOs), 119, halted WBA#14 Jose Silveira (13-3-1, 6 KOs), 119, at the end of the ninth session.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.