Report and photos by Joe Koizumi
Hard-punching Japanese Naoko Yamaguchi (20-3-3, 16 KOs), 114.75, very impressively kept her WBA female super-flyweight belt as she dropped game Italian challenger Loredana Piazza (9-2, 4 KOs), 114.25, four times and chalked up a TKO victory with the loser’s corner tossing in the towel at 0:10 of the seventh round on Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan.
Yamaguchi, making her second defense since dethroning compatriot Tsunami Tenkai last year, quickly caught the taller Italian with a vicious right cross, flooring her in the third session. The champ, in round four, decked Piazza twice more in the fourth, but the Italian challenger showed her heart with desperate combinations.
Yamaguchi, formerly a javelin thrower (who won the national high school championship when young), finally exploded a devastating right to the face of Piazza, who so badly fell down that her cornerman Dino Orso promptly threw in the towel to save her from further punishment.
The short but strong champ Yamaguchi, a year her senior at 34, previously had an ambitious shot against WBC 115-pound ruler Ana Maria Torres, losing a unanimous decision in 2011. Since then, she scored six victories with four inside the distance by displaying her power-punching, which is far beyond female boxers.
Yamaguchi, handled by ex-WBA junior flyweight champ Yoko Gushiken, said, “I’ll fight anybody Mr. Gushiken decides.” The WBA already told her to meet interim champ Daniela Bermudez in the next defense. The loser’s manager Orso said, “Naoko was much stronger than we expected. We admit she could punch.”
Gushiken jubilantly said, “It’s a very fine victory that entertained the crowd. Yamaguchi should utilize her left hand more, and she will get better judgment of distance and connect with her solid punches with better precision.”
Lanky jabber Tomoko Kawanishi (7-1, 3 KOs), 115, captured the OPBF super-fly belt by halting defending champ Noriko Tsunoda (3-1, 2 KOs), 114, at 0:40 of the fourth session. The challenger had the champ on the deck in the second, twice in the third and once more in the fatal fourth. Tsunoda inexplicably revealed her vunerability and hit the deck whenever she took a good shot from the skinny challenger.
Promoter: Shirai Gushiken Promotions.