by Joe Koizumi



Feb. 24
TOKYO--Korakuen Hall--Slick-punching speedster KEITARO HOSHINO, 105, cleverly outmaneuvered game simon pure MAKOTO SUZUKI, 104 3/4, dominated the proceedings except the 3rd and 8th, and was awarded a TKO win at 0:15 into the 9th round in a scheduled 10. Hoshino, the WBC's #18 105-pounder, raised his mark to 16-6, 5 KOs. Suzuki, the JBC #1 contender, fell to 7-4-2, 3 KOs. Referee was Kazunobu Asao.

Hoshino, like Freddie Pendleton, became suddenly surging in 1995 after he suffered several defeats. Then no one expected him to win the national throne in the future. Hoshino, a light-punching and lantern-jawed ex-amateur boy, showed a rapid progress in skill of hitting without getting hit. In Aug., 1996, he amazingly captured the national straw title on an unexpected 8th round TKO over Keisuke Yokoyama here in Tokyo. In a tune-up go prior to his coronation Hoshino suffered a 2nd round KO by an unknown Filipino named Allan Butlig in Mar., 1996. But the heavy underdog Hoshino impressively captured the title from Yokoyama. Since then, Hoshino kept his title twice, beating Ernesto Rubillar Ibaragi and Satoshi Yoshida on points. Hoshino is handled by ex-world fly champ Susumu Hanagata.

Suzuki was an obviously less experienced novice against Hoshino. He moved up to the No.1 contender of the JBC ratings thanks to a technical draw with hard-hitting ex-champ Keisuke Yokoyama (who will outgrow the 105-pound division) in his previous bout last Sept. Suzuki is managed by former world flyweight challenger Kyo Noguchi who failed to win the title by a 15-round decision to Pone Kingpetch in 1962.

Hoshino cautiously started with a few but more accurate shots to the face of the nervous challenger. The champ utilized his superior footwork in the 2nd, and showed his good defense against Suzuki's reckless rallies. The 3rd was taken by Suzuki, who suddenly turned loose with non-stop attacks that had Hoshino backpedaling. Hoshino, however, dominated the 5th through 7th sessions with a fine display of his superior skill. Hoshino, in the 7th, had him on the verge of a knockdown with an sharp left following a one-two combo. Suzuki, in round 8, desperately fought back with a fusillade of punches and opened a gash (with a legal punch as declared by the referee Asao) at the right eyebrow. The short and skinny champ retaliated with fast combinations in the beginning of the 9th, and the third man abruptly called a halt to save the fading loser. It was Hoshino's 3rd defense of his Japanese 105-pound title, but he needs more gain in physical power and punching power.

Undercards: JBC #4 jr. bantam Takashi Yahara, 115, earned a close but unanimous decision over Fumihiko Sasaki, 115, in 10. Scored: double 98-96 and 97-95. Yahara is 11-5-1, a KO. Sasaki fell to 9-6-3, no KO.

Upcoming prospect Junichi Watanabe, 118, raised his good mark to 13-1, 10 KOs, as he stopped Filipino Golden Boy Chico, 118 3/4, at 1:25 of the 2nd round in a scheduled 8.
Promoter: MI Hanagata Promotions.


Feb. 23 TOKYO--Korakuen Hall--Busy-punching MAKOTO NAKAHARA, 147, survived a 6th-round visit to the deck in the 6th, swarmed over hard-hitting but sporadic TERUO NAGASE, JBC #1 contender, 145 3/4, in the last 4 sessions and kept his national welter title on a split but well-received verdict over 10. Scored: Abe 96-95 and Uratani 96-94, both for Nakahara, and Uchida 95-94 for Nagase. Referee was Kodai Kumazaki. Nakahara, making his 2nd defense, is 10-2-2, 4 KOs. Nagase, in his 3rd attempt to fight for the Japanese title, dropped to 13-5, 8 KOs.

Nakahara battled Minoru Horiuchi for the vacant national welter title in Jan. of the previous year, and it was announced to be a technical draw due to a bad cut of Nakahara in the 3rd. The JBC, however, reversed the official verdict into a TKO win for Horiuchi and recognized Horiuchi as an interim champ, since our Commission viewed a videotape and decided that the gash was produced by Horiuchi's legal punch. But the JBC ordered a rematch between them. Nakahara, a crestfallen loser, became the champ by outhustling the hard-hitting Horiuchi to win a split decision in May. Nakahara, a short but pugnacious puncher, retained his diadem by scoring an amazingly unanimous decision over highly regarded Shinji Saeki last Aug.

Nagase previously had a shot at the national welter title, losing to defending champ the then champ Jintoku Sato twice--both via a TKO route. Nagase, a sturdy puncher with well-developed muscles, whipped hard-hitting Shinji Saeki and lefty speedster Shinichi Komatsu to his credit to move up to the #1 rank.

Nagase, 26, dominated the first session with his opening attack. But Nakahara, 23, kept boring in to mix up with busy body bombardments, which apparently weakened Nagase. The 6th saw Nagase exploded a powerful right to the face of the champ, who went down for the 8 count and looked still shaky. Nakahara showed his determination and superior stamina in taking the last 4 rounds to carry him to a triumph. It was a question why Nagase went all out for a KO in the 7th round without waiting for openings, since Nakahara was then still damaged by a bad knockdown in the previous round.

In a supporting 10, Manabu Fukushima, 124, maintained his aggressiveness until his overhand right sank Fauzi Armes, Indonesian bantam champ, 124, at 1:29 of the 6th round. Armes had suffered a 6th-round KO defeat at the hand of lefty prospect Toshiaki Nishioka in Himeji in Feb. of the previous year. Armes showed his tight guard, but he looked negative and defensive against the Japanese youngster. Armes took the 3rd, but the other rounds were seemingly dominated by Fukushima. The victor raised his mark to 11-2-1, 8 KOs. Armes reportedly fell to 11-3-1, 6 KOs.

Yusuke Umeda, 112, split-decisioned Hironao Nishizuka, 111 1/2, over 6. The former is 4-4-3, 2 KOs. The latter fell to 3-4-2, 2 KOs.

Yoshihiro Yamamoto, 125 1/2, unanimously decisioned Yasushi Igarashi, 126, over 6. The winner is 8-2, 3 KOs. Igarashi fell to 6-5-1, 2 KOs.
Promoter: Yokohama Sakura Promotions.


Former 2-time world champ Hiroki Ioka has been decided to have a shot at the WBA junior bantam title against newly crowned compatriot Satoshi Iida in Nagoya on Apr. 29. Ioka, of Osaka, has moved up to Tokyo to train under the tutelage of Cuban-import trainer Ismael Salas at Kadoebi Gym. If Ioka should win the WBA jr. bantam throne, he would become the first Asian boxer to win the 3 titles in as many different divisions.

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