By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Boxing Beat
WBC#3/WBA#5 super-fly Yota Sato (22-2-1, 11 KOs), 115, kept his national 115-pound belt as he had a tough time with busy-punching speedster Yoshihito Ishizaki (6-2-1, 4 KOs), 114.75, but controlled the second half with a successful stick-and-move strategy, winning a close but unanimous decision (96-95, 97-94 and 97-93) on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. Sato, making his fourth defense, didn’t look as sharp as usual early in the contest with Ishizaki scoring with light but busy combinations to have it a close affair. Sato, a lanky jabber, began to utilize his superior footwork and kept circling with stinging lefts that hurt the less experienced upright stylist. The champ was in command in the last three rounds to confirm his triumph.
In the first of a twinbill, OPBF welter champ Akinori Watanabe (23-4, 21 KOs), 147, an awkward but hard-hitting southpaw, also retained his regional belt when he dug a wicked left uppercut to the liver of OPBF top ranked Korean ruler Jung-hoon Yang (6-3, 2 KOs), 145.25, sinking him in agony for the count at 2:46 of the fourth session. Watanabe decked his initial defense since he dethroned compatriot Yo Inoue via second round demolition, capturing a couple of OPBF and national belts at once this April. With more sophistication Watanabe will technically improve more since he still throw a punch at a time.
Promoter: Kyoei Promotions.