By Joe Koizumi
Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions will present a sensational world title twinbill tomorrow (Saturday) at the Yoyogi Second Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan. WBC super-bantam champ Toshiaki Nishioka (34-4-3, 21 KOs), a Japanese hard-hitting southpaw, will put his belt on the line against ex-WBO titlist Ivan Hernandez (25-3-1, 15 KOs), Mexico, over twelve rounds. Also, unbeaten WBA super-feather kingpin Jorge Linares (27-0, 18 KOs), a Japan-based Venezuelan, will defend his second world belt against also undefeated Juan Carlos Salgado (21-0-1, 15 KOs), an up-and-coming Mexican, over twelve. We saw a weigh-in ceremony, where Nishioka tipped the beam a quarter pound lighter than the limit at 121.75, while Hernandez 122. Linares scaled in at 129.75 to the 130-pound class limit for Salgado. The officials are as follows: WBC 122-pound title bout: referee Mike Griffin (Canada); judges Glenn Trowbridge (US), Bruce McTavish (Philippines) and Douglas Belton (New Zealand); supervisor Gabriel Penagaricano (Puerto Rico).
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
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WBA 130-pound title bout: referee Luis Pabon (Puerto Rico); judges Gustavo Padilla (Panama), Raul Caiz Sr. (US) and Pinit Prayadsab (Thailand); supervisor Yangsup Shim (Korea).
The 33-year-old Nishioka is truly a late bloomer who acquired the WBC super-bantam throne by defeating Thailander Napapol Kiatisakchokchai on points in September last year and elevated to the full championship due to Israel Vazquez’s relinquishment. While fighting in the bantam category, he failed to win the world throne on no less than four times, twice losing to and twice drawing with the same champ Veeraphol Nakhornluang-Promotion in 2000 through 2004. Since then, he moved up to the 122-pound division and scored eleven wins straight including seven knockouts.
Nishioka registered a couple of successful defenses; his first over Genaro Garcia via twelfth-round TKO here last January, and went to Mexico to pulverize official challenger Jhonny Gonzalez by a single haymaker in the third this May.
The Japanese lefty will face the third Mexican challenger in as many title defenses. Sharp and speedy, Ivan Hernandez, seven years his junior at 26, once captured the WBO super-fly belt by demolishing veteran southpaw Mark Johnson with vicious body shots in the eighth in 2004, and yielded it to Fernando Montiel partly because of his severe reduction of weight next year.
Having acquired the NABF bantam title by decisioning ex-champ Roberto Reyva, Hernandez had a WBC super-bantam crack at Israel Vazquez only to retire due to his bad bleeding in June 2006.
The stylish Mexican, handled by Antonio Lozada, became fresh and fast as he moved up to the 122-pound class due to his height and physique. After he arrived in Tokyo a week ago, Hernandez has honed his fists day after day and showed he’s in very good shape.
Nishioka said, “I wish to score another KO victory in this defense. As a chance comes, I’ll finish him to appreciate people’s supports.” Hernandez responded to the champ’s confident comment, saying, “Nishioka is an excellent champ, but I have as excellent speed as he has. I’ve come to win from Mexico. You will see how good condition I have now in the ring.”
In another world title bout, “El Nino de Oro (Golden Boy)” Jorge Linares will engage in his second defense after gaining his second world throne by dispatching Wyber Garcia in five furious rounds in Mexico last November. Linares registered his initial defense by disposing of Josafat Perez via eighth-round stoppage also in Mexico this June.
Linares, still 24, lately executed a co-promotional agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, and this may be his last defense here in Japan as he will positively campaign in the US from the next bout on. Roberto Diaz, a representative from GBP, has come to watch Linares’ successful defense to report it to his boss Oscar.
Juan Carlos Salgado, 24, is a taller challenger than the champ. Having utilized his advantageous height and smooth footwork, plus his good counterpunching, Salgado compiled an unbeaten mark in 22 bouts, though including a draw. Salgado had been training strenuously at the famous Romanza Gym, and seems to be in good shape, showing versatile combinations as well as quick counters here after his arrival.
Linares confidently says, “I’ve had my career best condition this time, and believe I’ll show a good performance. I’m looking forward to my US campaign, but will concentrate on this defense before me. You may expect my good defense without fail.”
Salgado, quiet and modest unlike aggressive Mexican hombres, predicted his triumph and coronation. He calmly says, “Against such a formidable champ as Linares, it may be a tough fight. But it so highly motivates me that I’ll show my very best fight in my career. You’ll see it.”
The Linares-Salgado bout will start at about 4 PM, and the Nishioka-Hernandez fight will follow accordingly. The tickets were already sold out in first two days after Teiken Promotions started the distribution. This show will be telecast not only in Japan but in Mexico and Venezuela.