By Joe Koizumi
Unbeaten southpaw, WBC#14/WBA#13 Yoshimitsu Yashiro (21-0-2, 12 KOs), 129.75, very barely kept his Japanese national super-feather belt as he survived a couple of visits to the deck and desperately dominated the last two sessions down the stretch to be awarded a split draw (95-95, 94-94 and 94-96 against him) with mandatory challenger Takashi Miura (15-2-1, 13 KOs), 130, over furiously hard-fought ten heats on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
It was a very interesting slugfest of southpaws; tall and lanky Yashiro and shorter and sturdy Miura. Yashiro, piloted by influential promoter and latest Hall of Famer Akihiko Honda, was in command in the first four rounds, utilizing his faster one-two combinations and shifty footwork.
In the closing seconds of the fifth, the hard-hitting challenger caught the champ with a southpaw right hook following a one-two combo and had Yashiro staggering to the ropes and down then and there. The bell came to his rescue, though the champ resumed fighting and swapping punches. The sixth was also Miura, who landed a couple of left crosses to the cheek of the still bewildered champ who, though, came back well.
The seventh witnessed a climax of the game, as Miura, the aggressor, caught the champ again with a vicious left hook to the side of the belly. Down he went. Yashiro was flat for seconds. People thought it was over, as the champ absorbed such a heavy body shot and stayed on the canvas as if he would have been prone until the fatal count. The champ, however, amazingly stood up and gamely resumed fighting to have a narrow escape.
After the eighth (though the open scoring system wasn’t adopted), the official tallies were: 77-74, 77-75 and 76-74, all for the challenger. The eighth was close enough, as they seldom scored with good effective shots each other. The champ, in round nine, made good use of southpaw jabs to the fading challenger, clearing winning a point. The scores after the ninth were: 87-84, 86-85 and 85-84, still for Miura. It became a one-round fight.
Miura’s dream to seize the national belt slipped out of his hand, as Yashiro very cleverly kept outjabbing the willing but less positive challenger to win a point. Thus, two judges had it even in the end to make it a split draw.
Have you ever seen a boxer who hit the deck twice (or more) eventually awarded a victory or a draw? Every hardcore boxing fan must remember the legendary come-from-behind knockout of Archie Moore over Yvon Durrelle in 1958.
This reporter still remembers the historically controversial verdict of Wilfredo Benitez and Bruce Curry at the Madison Square Garden in 1977. Curry decked Benitez on no less than three occasions – in the fourth (twice) and the fifth – but dropped a split decision (5-4-1 for Curry, but 7-3 and 5-4-1 for Benitez) in their first encounter. It was like a test piece in deciding the winner since the verdict would have been due to the scoring system.
Johnny Famechon hit the deck three times by a barrage of punches by Fighting Harada (though the champ dropped Harada once) to be awarded a debatable 15-round decision (70-69 by a one-man panel of the scoring referee Willie Pep) to keep his WBC feather belt in Australia in 1969.
Twelve angry men, at the Korakuen Hall, were surrounding the ring to protest against the drawn verdict afterward. This reporter, however, saw it 95-95, a draw, as the champ Yashiro overcame his two-point deficit on the scores after the eighth by completely dominating the last two sessions, while the challenger Miura, probably because of his fatigue, paid no efforts to win more points then.
The promoter Akihiko Honda said, “There will be a rematch between them in the nearest future after they recover from their absorption of damage.” It must be a highly anticipated grudge fight.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.