By Joe Koizumi
Dominican challenger Elio Rojas (21-1, 13 KOs), 124.5, captured the WBC featherweight throne by winning a unanimous decision (116-113, 117-111 and 118-110) over Japanese defending champ, southpaw Takahiro Aoh (17-2-1, 8 KOs), 126, over hard-fought twelve rounds on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.
Slick-punching Rojas, whose amateur mark was reportedly as excellent as 205-3, made a good start as he connected with light but busy combinations to the defending champ. After the first four rounds, the open scoring system showed: 39-37 twice and 40-36 in favor of the challenger.
The Dominican, 26, maintained the initiative by connecting with direct rights without left leads to the southpaw champ who had dethroned Mexican veteran Oscar Larios by a unanimous verdict this March. The seventh saw Aoh unleash good combinations to bring him to the standstill, but Rojas cleverly grabbed the aggressor to keep him from accelerating his retaliation. The official tallies announced after the eighth were: 78-75, 78-74 and 79-73, all in favor of Rojas.
The 25-year-old champ, who had acquired six national high school championships here prior to his entry into the paid ranks, showed his best in round nine, when he connected with a vicious southpaw right hook and almost stunned the skillful challenger. Aware of being behind on points, Aoh attempted to display his last surge in the final three rounds, but Rojas caught the champ with more accurate shots to keep his pace.
Aoh might have paid too much respect to the highly regarded challenger, and should have showed his usual aggressiveness to keep his belt in his initial defense. Promoter: Teiken Promotions.