Report by Joe Koizumi
Photo by Boxing Beat
WBC youth super-fly champ Masamichi Nozaki (16-3-1, 6 KOs), 118, Japan, barely kept his belt as he was held to a majority draw (95-95 twice and 96-94 for him) by unbeaten local prospect Yushi Tanaka (9-0-3, 6 KOs), 117.25, over ten fast rounds on Sunday. It was a typical boxer-puncher confrontation, as the much shorter champ Nozaki kept boring in to try to mix it up, while the lanky jabber Tanaka kept sticking to keep him from coming in the close quarter. Nozaki made an early start and took the initiative in the second and third sessions. The open scoring system after the fourth showed: 39-37 twice for Nozaki and 38-38. Tanaka, three years his junior at 21, accelerated his speedy jabbing and combination punching from the fifth on, but Nozaki, despite his nose-bleeding, occasionally displayed his persistent retaliation to refuse to easily yield the initiative to Tanaka. After the seventh, the tallies were: 67-66 twice for the champ and 66-67 for the challenger. It became a three-round fight, but they furiously swapped hot punches on almost even terms. Since it was a graduation fight for Nozaki (according to the WBC youth championship rules and regulations, a champ over twenty-four shall be allowed to do just a defense as a graduation and then have to renounce it to pave the way for younger boxers to compete for the youth belt), Tanaka will face Filipino Vergel Nebran in a quest for the renounced belt in Nagoya on July 14. Promoter: Hatanaka Promotions.