by Joe Koizuni

Mar. 8, 1998
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN--Yokohama Arena--Power-punching Thailander SAMAN SORJATURONG, 106 3/4, floored taller but skinny Japanese SHIRO YAHIRO, 107 1/4, twice and proved too strong in their rematch in stopping him at 2:20 of the 4th session to retain his WBC light flyweight title with great ease. It resulted in a disappointedly lopsided affair. Sorjaturong wrested the 108-pound crown by a stunning come-from-behind stoppage of Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez in Jul., 1995, and thus kept his throne 9 times to his credit. The 5'3" short but very sturdy Thailander raised his credentials to 38-2-1, 31 KOs. Yahiro, a year his senior at 29, dropped to 23-4-2, 13 KOs.

They met in Thailand in Aug., 1996, with Sorjaturong winning on a 9th-round stoppage due to Yahiro's bad cut. Yahiro, however, then fought well as he averted Sorjaturong's vaunted punches. So, this rematch took place here before Yahiro's adherents.

Yahiro, some 4 inches taller, threw plenty of fast jabs over the shorter champ in order to follow his game plan. It was a good round for Yahiro, a soft-punching speedster, though Sorjaturong took it by a slight margin as he scored some left-right combos to the chest and the belly.

Sorjaturong turned more aggressive in the 2nd, when he put on pressure to the lanky jabber and landed solid one-two combos and a powerful left hook. Yahiro looked overpowered and outhustled by the willing mixer. The 3rd followed a similar pattern, but Sorjaturong threw a looping left hook that caught the face of Yahiro in the closing seconds. Yahiro fell on the seats of his pants and stood up to beat the count, when the bell sounded to his rescue.

In the 4th and final stanza, Sorjaturong cut off the ring and nailed him to the ropes. He landed a left-right combo to the face and followed a heavy and well-timed right (which was a double right). Yahiro fell foward and sat down on the deck. When he attempted to stand up, he fell backward. Referee Lou Filipo didn't hesitate to call a halt.

Yahiro should have ridden a bicycle until the 5th, as Sorjaturong was an early starter. The Japanese failed to utilize his footwork more busily. It was his mistake that he though he could outjab to stop Sorjaturong boring in, because the Thailander is a KO specialist to come close to a taller opponent and land solid shots to the face and midsection. It was expected to be a better fight and Yahiro was thought to have a chance provided that he made good use of his speed. It's Sorjaturong's easy payday.

Scored after the 3rd: Barbara Perez (US; who gave just the 2nd round to Yahiro) 29-27, Gelacio Perez (Mexico) and Glenn Hirsh (US) both 30-26 (10-9, 10-9, and 10-8), all for the defending champ.

Promoter: Teiken Promotions.
WBC supervisor: Frank Quill (Australia).

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