Yaegashi holds off tough Mexican
Akira Yaegashi retained his WBC flyweight title when he beat Oscar Blanquet on points in Tokyo on Monday.
The champion was making the first defence of the belt and beat the Mexican challenger 116-110 on two cards and 115-111.
Yaegashi, 30, used his speed to try to catch Blanquet, who relied on his reach advantage to keep the champion at bay.
But as the fight wore on Yaegashi connected more and more body blows, and a straight right in the eighth round put his opponent on the canvas.
"I fought in a way that was far from perfect. I have a lot of things to improve. I must work harder, otherwise I cannot keep on winning," Yaegashi said after the bout. “I am still an untested champion but I want your warm support."
At the end of the fourth round, the two were even at 39-37, 37-39 and 38-38, but from the halfway mark Yaegashi's body blows began to connect and wear down the challenger.
In the eighth round, Canadian referee Len Koivisto slapped Yaegashi with a one-point penalty for a low blow. But with ten seconds left Yaegashi floored Blanquet with a straight right for an eight count.
At the end of the round the champion led 76-74, 77-73 and 77-73. The Mexican chased Yaegashi with swinging punches but the champion countered with right hooks to keep the points gap intact.
After 12 rounds American judge Don Griffin and Thailand’s Noppharat Sricharoen handed in scores of 116-110 and South Korean Lim Jun-Bae had it 115-111.
The win stretched Yaegashi's record to 18 wins, nine of them by knockout, with three defeats. For Blanquet, 28, it was his sixth loss against 32 wins, 23 of them inside the distance, and one draw.
Yaegashi, who stepped up two divisions after holding the WBA minimumweight title, won the flyweight title in April by outpointing fellow Japanese Toshiyuki Igarashi.
On the same card, Shinsuke Yamanaka retained his WBC bantamweight title by knocking out Jose Nieves from Puerto Rico in the first round.
Yamanaka improved his record to 19-0-2, including 14 knockouts. Nieves dropped to 22-3-2; 11.
The 30-year-old southpaw champion finished the fight with a thundering left. Nieves, 32, protested when the referee counted him out but he was probably unable to defend himself after getting off the canvas.