by Joe Koizumi

March 8, 1998
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN--Yokohama Arena--Faster and sharper JOICHIRO TATSUYOSHI, 118, kept his composure against a negative and defensive Argentine named JOSE RAFAEL SOSA, 116 3/4, and successfully retained his WBC bantamweight throne on a unanimous decision over 12 lopsided frames. It was Tatsuyoshi's first defense since he captured it by an upset 7th round stoppage of Sirimongkol Nakorthorn-Parkview in Osaka last Nov. Scored: Gale Van Hoy (US) 120-108, Cliff Heaver (Australia) 117-111, and Miguel Acuna (Mexico) 116-112, all for the Japanese champ.

Tatsuyoshi, 27, was well-known for his pugnacious fighting, but he cooly and cleverly kept outjabbing the shorter Argentine all the way. It was a question why the Mexican judge gave no less than 4 points to Sosa, 28, who continually remained on the defensive to our disappointment. This reporter saw it 120-108, giving all the rounds to Tatsuyoshi. The flamboyant champ obviously showed his technical progress, constantly moving in and out and stepping side-to-side. His stinging lefts prevented Sosa from retaliating except in the last session.

Tatsuyoshi, ex-WBC bantam boss, had failed to win the WBC super-bantam crown, losing to Mexican lefty Daniel Zaragoza twice in 1996 and 1997. He simply showed his physical and technical superiority to Sosa, who had previously had an unsuccessful shot at the WBO 115-pound crown against Johnny Tapia in Albuquerque, 1995. Tatsuyoshi, the most popular Japanese ringman, started outjabbing him and occasionally threw his favorite combination, a left-right followed by a solid left uppercut to the belly, which was averted by Sosa's tight guard. The 3rd round saw Tatsuyohsi pin him to the ropes with a flurry of punches, while Sosa attempted to fight back with his back to the ropes.

It became a monotonous affair, chiefly because Sosa didn't show any aggressiveness but remained very defensive. Though winning every round, Tatsuyoshi became frustrated at Sosa's nagative way of fighting and at his incapability of finishing it to bring home the bacon soon. The champ's cornermen advised him to keep cool and keep jabbing and outpunching him.

Tatsuyoshi, in Round 10, accelerated his incessant attacks to the still cautious Sosa, who occasionaly tried to counter him. The 11th round witnessed Tatsuyoshi go for a kill with his energy left, but in vain. Sosa was simply too defensive.

The 12th was the most hard-fought round. Sosa, for the first time in the fight, turned loose and came out fighting to land a solid right to the champ's face. Tatsuyoshi was bewildered by Sosa's sudden retaliations, but he furiously fought back to nail Sosa to the ropes with a barrage of punches. It was Tatsuyoshi that took the 12th. However, if this reporter shows his kindness and generosity in giving a round, it may be this 12th. All other rounds were definitely dominated by Tatsuyoshi.

Tatsuyoshi, 16-4-1, 12 KOs, showed his displeasure in his own performance agaisnt his predicition that he would finish Sosa within the distance, but he didn't lose his composure and kept jabbing with precision and throwing good combinations. Sosa, formerly Argentine national 115-pound champ, was overpowered and fell to 30-10-5, 21 KOs.

Referee: Tony Perez (US).
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.
WBC supervisor: Antonio Martinez (Hong Kong).

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