Report and Photos by Joe Koizumi
Unbeaten WBA#11/WBO#10/IBF#8 Ryuji Hara (15-0, 10 KOs), 104.75, barely kept his Japanese national 105-pound belt as he had a tough time coping with aggressive challenger Shuhei Ito (12-3-1, 3 KOs), 105, but whipped him with precision down the stretch, winning a unanimous verdict (all 97-94) over ten hard-fought rounds on Sunday in Fuji city, Japan.
Hara, a 22-year-old ex-jockey aspirant making his second defense, made a slow start, while Ito, 23, started fireworks with less accurate but busy attacks in earlier rounds. But it was the defending champ Hara that began to dominate the contest with his accurate combinations that caught the onrushing opponent in the middle of the affair. Ito, in round seven, displayed a desperate attack entirely for three minutes, winning a point but burning the champ’s fighting spirit. Hara, with a bruised face, desperately fought back to take back the initiative with good left hooks, which obviously hurt the game challenger.
It was a good fight, but Hara, fighting at his native place, said afterward, “Sorry not to be able to show a better performance this time, but I’ll show a good fight next time.” Hara who had given up his jockey career might realize it is much more difficult to handle the challenger than the horse.
Promoter: Ohashi Promotions in association with Suruga Danji Gym.