by Joe Koizumi

Mar. 16, 1998
TOKYO--Korakuen Hall--Japanese-based US military worker RICKY YOSHIMURA, 134 1/2, kept his Japanese national lightweight title for the 13th time, as he outsped and outhustled an overmatched YOICHI IWAMOTO, 134 1/2, to halt him at 1:54 of the 5th round in a scheduled 10.

Rick, whose real name is Frederick Roberts, got married with Ms. Yoshimura, a Japanese lady, so he has been fighting under the name of Rick Yoshimura. The New Yorker fought twice prior to his debut in Japan in 1987--in accordance with Phil Marder's record book (page 609 of the 1998 edition under the name of Rick Yoshimura)--losing to Michael Dominguez in 1983 and to Thomas Oteru in 1984, both in NY.

Rick, who has been ranked #10 in the 135-pound division by the WBA, is an excellent boxer-puncher who is unmatched here in Japan except the WBC #3 ranked lightie Hiroyuki Sakamoto who had upset Rick on a surprising 9th round TKO to win the national light throne in 1993. Since then, Rick regained the Japanse title and thus kept it 13 times, scoring 15 wins in a row.

Rick recently tends to swap punches recklessly with his Japanese opponents, though he was a legitimate outboxer and fine jabber with a lanky and stylish physique a la Alexis Arguello. As he overpowered them to continue defending his national title with ease, Rick is likely to exchange punches with mediocre challengers without throwing his favorite jabs.

So did he this night. Rick battered Iwamoto to the punch with wild left hooks and solid left-right combinations. He had the slower and less skillful foe at bay in the 4th, and referee Kodai Kumazaki wisely declared a halt to save Iwamoto from further punishment though there were no knockdowns. Rick raised his ledger to 30-5, 17 KOs, although his record announced here is 30-3, 17 KOs, minus his two losses in NY. Iwamoto, a bit too tense and nervous, fell to 15-12, 12 KOs.

Masayuki Takeda, JBC #3 jr. welter contender, 140, was awarded a TKO win over Shigeo Okayama, a fast-rising hard-puncher ranked #4 in the 140-pound class, at the lmit, at 1:28 of the 6th in a semi-final 10. It was a good matchup, since both were exciting hard-hitters. They took each other round before referee Uchida abruptly halted the affair. Takeda, piloted by ex-WBA feather champ Shozo Saijo, is 18-1, 12 KOs. Okayama dropped to 10-4, 7 KOs. Both had defects in the defense despite their gameness and hard-hitting abilities.

Rugged fighter Ryuji Muramatsu, JBC #3 jr. fly, 108, earned a close but unanimous nod (97-96, 98-96 and 98-95) over Koji Sano, 108, over 10. It was a close affair, but Muramatsu remained a bit more aggressive, which carried him to a victory. Muramatsu, a stablemate of Rick Yoshimura, failed to win the national title, losing to Hidenobu Honda, a tricky and elusive lefty, in the champ's home turf, Osaka, twice. But he proved that he was a game warrior. Muramatsu is 14-4, 7 KOs. Sano fell to 11-3-5, 3 KOs.
Promoter: Ishikawa Promotions.

Mar. 11
TOKYO--Korakuen Hall--Lefty prefight favorite KAZUHIRO RYUKO, JBC#3 fly, 114, was a bit too overconfident to carefully outbox SHIN TERAO, 113 3/4, JBC #3 strawweight, who occasionally caught him with good rights en route to a hard-fought draw over 8. Terao floored him with a well-timed short right in the 6th, though Ryuko denied it and claimed that it was just a slip. Ryuko, ex-amateur speedster, should have utilized his potential speed and footwork. Ryuko, who had failed to win the national title from Nolito "Suzuki" Cabato in Osaka in the previous year, is 7-1-1, no KO. Terao is 10-2-1, a KO.

Satoshi Yoshida, JBC #7 jr. fly, 108, kept punching more blows to Kotaro Ando, 107 1/4, all the way to win a unanimous nod (double 79-77 and 78-77) over 8. Yoshida is 12-9-2, 2 KOs. Ando dipped to 7-6, 3 KOs.
Promoter: Watanabe Promotions.

Joe Koizumi japjoe@t3.rim.or.jp If you wish to refer to my previous reports, please access to: http://www.ring-japan.com/oriental.htm

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