By Joe Koizumi
Slick-punching southpaw, OPBF#2 ranked Japanese middleweight champ Tetsuya Suzuki (25-8, 15 KOs), 159.25, successfully kept his national belt as he patiently responded to opening attacks of his challenger Toru Tanaka (7-2-1, 2 KOs), 160, with counterpunches in the first four rounds and turned loose from the fifth on to win a unanimous technical decision (88-85, 89-82 and 90-82) at 1:08 of the ninth session on Sunday in Osaka, Japan.
Tanaka sustained a bad cut on the left side of the skull caused by an accidental butt midway in the eighth, and the referee had the gory laceration examined by the ringside physician twice and finally called a halt. Tanaka, an early starter, lost every round from the fifth as the champ accelerated his revenging rallies with precision, often bouncing the head off with solid southpaw lefts to be in command. Suzuki, then a dual champ, lost his OPBF throne to ex-titlist Koji Sato (a Felix Strum victim with the WBA belt at stake in Germany) last December, but could keep his national diadem despite a close but unanimous verdict. Suzuki finely displayed his superior defensive skills to the aggressive challenger Tanaka, four years his junior at 24, and also showed his ring finesse in controlling later rounds with ease.
Promoter: Shinko Promotions.