By Joe Koizumi
Unbeaten but unheralded Mexican Juan Carlos Salgado (22-0-1, 16 KOs), 130, greatly shocked the boxing world when he scored an unexpected TKO over previously unbeaten WBA super-feather champ Jorge Linares (27-1, 18 KOs), 129.75, a prohibitive favorite, at 1:13 of the opening session to capture the belt on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
WBC super-bantam titlist Toshiaki Nishioka (35-4-3, 22 KOs), 121.75, kept his throne as he broke the jaw of Mexican challenger Ivan Hernandez (25-4-1, 15 KOs), 122, with a vicious countering left midway in the contest to have him retire at the end of the third session.
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
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The underdog Salgado’s first solid punch, a looping left hook, surprisingly caught the champ and sent him backward to the deck. Though Linares resumed fighting, he wasn’t ready to exchange punches with the aggressive Mexican challenger only to fall again with his back to the ropes. Watching his shaky legs and glassy eyes, referee Luis Pabon of Puerto Rico wisely declared a halt to save the dethroned champ from further punishment.
No one had expected Linares’ defeat, especially in such a quick fashion, even if we thought Linares’ quick demolition might be possible due to his superior experience against such name opponents as Oscar Larios, Gamaliel Diaz, Saohin Srithai Condo, etc. Though unbeaten, Salgado had not fought so well-known or experienced opponents in his rather short five-year career.
The highly motivated Mexican youngster abruptly threw a left hook-right cross combination, the first caught the champ and the second missed the target. It means the first shot caused the shocker. His Mexican long left hook, against which Linares reacted to block by raising his right hand high, penetrated his guard from inside, hitting the temple of the champ. Reviewing the tape time and again (as this reporter was a TV commentator today), Linares looked dead with this first punch to the head, not to the chin or jaw.
Many ringsiders sensed Linares just took a flash knockdown, but when he barely pulled himself up, he looked like paralyzed so much that his damage was visibly so serious and heavy. As the ref ordered them to go on again, Salgado rushed from the neutral corner to the still dizzy champ and pinned him to the ropes with a flurry of punches. Linares attempted to avert them with his high guard, but Salgado landed a solid right to the head followed by a right uppercut to the face. The champ’s legs appeared buckled and went down again. Linares again managed to raise himself, but his body apparently lost the equilibrium.
Just 73 seconds. It seemed as soon as the fight began, it ended too quickly. It almost made us feel as if we had seen a different drama with a reverse set of the winner and the loser. No, it was true that Linares was the loser and dethroned champ, even upset.
The incredible result was reminiscent of a previous shocker that WBC feather champ Kuniaki Shibata, despite his honorable coronation at the expense of highly regarded defending champ Vicente Saldivar via thirteenth round TKO in Tijuana, too easily forfeited his precious throne to unknown Mexican Clemente Sanchez in only three rounds of his third defense in 1972.
Linares was never a glass jaw, as he proved he could take punch in his tough fight with ex-world challenger Saohin Srithai Condo in 2006 and in earlier rounds of his first title-winning bout with Mexican veteran Oscar Larios in 2007. But Linares of today looked so, mostly probably because he had been too eager and nervous to show a good performance in his seemingly last defense in Japan prior to his expected US campaign under Golden Boy Promotions.
Linares’ future blueprint may be that he will face his conqueror Salgado in a rematch to regain his lost belt, and then move to the US for more and higher competitions. His planned encounter with Humberto Soto or Robert Guerrero temporarily came to naught until he recaptures his belt.
The crestfallen Linares, still 24, said, “As I was knocked down, I lost my coolness. I might have been careless. But I will regain my belt in a revancha (rematch) with Salgado.”
WBC 122-pound champ Nishioka, a 33-year-old Japanese southpaw, occasionally landed southpaw straight lefts to the solar plexus of Hernandez, 26, who displayed a whirlwind attack without precision from the outset. The champ showed his excellent defensive skills as he had the busy-punching Mexican miss plenty of his opening attack, and countered with solid lefts to the body in the first round.
Midway in the second, they had a collision of heads that produced a slight cut on the forehead of Hernandez. The ref Mike Griffin, Canada, penalized a point from the uncut champ due to the WBC rules and regulations in the second, though it looked to have been taken by Nishioka.
The third saw Nishioka find his range and rhythm, and begin to accurately catch the elusive target with sharp lefts to the face and midsection. A smashing left landed the chin of the previously aggressive challenger, who inexplicably began to backpedal against the champ’s pressure since then.
After the third was over, people expected Nishioka’s victory would be a matter of time. Hernandez, however, refused to go on in the corner, claiming that he had a broken jaw and would not continue fighting. The third man accepted his appeal and waived it off and raised the champ’s arm.
It was a disappointment that we failed to watch a clearer end in favor of the champ, but Nishioka showed his improvement in offensive and defensive skills so that he proved that his last impressive stoppage of Jhonny Gonzalez in Mexico wasn’t a fluke at all.
The still champ said, “I wish to fight Rafael Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez or Celestino Caballero anytime and anywhere. By fighting strong rivals, I’ll become stronger and prove I’m really strong.” It might be strange Nishioka has become a better boxer and more dangerous puncher, as he entered in the thirties. He might be a rare old vintage.
Unbeaten WBC#14 Satoshi Hosono (16-0, 12 KOs), 125.75, retained his OPBF feather belt as he scored an important victory over former OPBF champ and ex-WBA world challenger to Chirs John, Hiroyuki Enoki (28-3-2, 20 KOs), 126, by a unanimous nod (116-113 twice and 117-112) over twelve furiously hard-fought rounds.
WBC#11 Japanese super-feather champ Takashi Miura (17-1-2, 14 KOs), 129.75, floored Masayuki Koguchi (19-6-2, 7 KOs), 130, with a wicked southpaw left in the first and second to win a lopsided decision (100-87, 100-90 and 99-89) over ten. Miura registered his initial defense since dethroning Yoshimitsu Yashiro in a rematch after the drawn first encounter.
WBC#7 super-bantam, up-and-coming southpaw speedster Akifumi Shimoda (20-2-1, 10 KOs), 124, flattened ex-WBC top contender Saenghiran Lookbanyai (21-2-1, 15 KOs), 126.25, from Thailand, at 2:23 of the sixth round in a scheduled eight.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.