By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Japan’s perennial top contender Kyosuke Sawada (15-2-2, 6 KOs), 117.75, finally acquired the vacant national bantamweight belt when he was awarded a split technical decision (48-47, 48-46; 47-48 against him) over JBC # 2 Kenshin Oshima (7-2-1, 3 KOs), 118, upon the victor’s bad bleeding from the head with an accidental headbutt at 0:27 of the fifth round in a scheduled ten on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. Sawada, a 33-year-old workman stylist, caught Oshima, 26, with a flurry of punches to down him to the ropes midway in round two. It was a close affair with Sawada’s experience prevailing in the short-range mix-ups, but a second-round knockdown eventually favored him to seize the long-vacant belt.
Sawada was a very unfortunate victim of a COVID-19 pandemic. He won an eliminator to be the mandatory challenger to the then national champ Yusuke Suzuki in October 2019, but Suzuki abruptly retired to renounce his belt prior to his defense with Sawada last April because of a livelihood for his family. Sawada, last July, faced # 2 Ikuro Sadatsune, dropped him in round one, but was held to a second-round technical draw by an accidental butt and his bad laceration. Their rematch was re-scheduled in November, but Sawada was in hot water as Sadatsune did not appear at the weigh-in allegedly because of his failure to make weight. The JBC therefore suspended Sadatsune for a year. Now the Sawada-Oshima was authorized by the JBC to decide the new titleholder. That’s such a long story for the patient Sawada.
On the undercard, a couple of ex-champs’ sons emerged victorious to prove their talents. Unbeaten bantam Shinba Yamaguchi (2-0-1, 2 KOs), 119.5, displayed a Nonito Donare-like left hook counter in decking Ren Kobayashi (4-2-1, 2 KOs), 119.5, three times and scored an impressive stoppage at 2:24 of the sixth and final session. Shinba, 21, is the son of former WBA 108-pound champ Keiji Yamaguchi (30-8-1, 11 KOs) who dethroned Panamanian Carlos Murillo in 1996.
Tall super-light southpaw Kaiki Yuba (8-1-2, 5 KOs), 139.75, dropped Tetsuya Kondo (6-5, 4 KOs), 140, with an eye-catching long left in the fifth and pounded out a unanimous nod (78-74, 78-73, 79-72) over eight. The 23-year-old Kaiki’s father is five-division champ Tadashi Yuba (46-10-2, 33 KOs) who could not become world champ but was a very popular crowd-pleaser during his 18-year career from 1996.
Promoter: Dangan Aoki Promotions.