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The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
January 30, 2001
by Joe Koizumi
TOKYO, JAPAN-Southpaw hard-puncher Junichi Watanabe, 122, surprisingly captured the Japanese national super-bantam title as he displayed his superior power, often shook up the WBC #20 ranked defending champ Setsuo Segawa, 122, and earned a split decision over 10.

Scored: double 97-96 and 96-96. This victory raised Watanabe’s credentials to 22-3, 18 KOs. Segawa, ex-Olympian and prohibitive favorite, fell to 15-3, 6 KOs.

Segawa started fireworks and mixed up with the hard-hitter from the outset. In the closing seconds of the opening canto, Watanabe, 5 years his junior at 27, almost stunned the champ with heavy southpaw lefts. Segawa might attempt to take the initiative as he thought that Watanabe had a suspect chin due to his previous failure to win the national bantam belt via second round stoppage by Toshiaki Nishioka in 1998. But it turned out to be a mistake, as Watanabe often caught the champ with positive lefts in the close quarter.

In the second half, the cleverer champ almost took back the pace with countering left hooks to the Japanese top contender in such a rough-and-tumble fashion as they grabbed each other to throw another like a sumo game. But Watanabe showed his determination to take a point in the last session to carry himself to a hairline victory.

Segawa, formerly Japanese 118-pound champ, renounced his title because of his whiplash neck injury caused by a car accident. Though people thought he had retired himself, Segawa returned to the ring warfare and brilliantly won the 122-pound throne from highly regarded Manabu Fukushima last year. Segawa also beat a dangerous top contender named Tetsutora Senrima on points in his first defense.

Watanabe is a talented hard-puncher, but his previous stoppage by Nishioka certainly dropped his stock and his chin was regarded as a suspect one. On his comeback trail Watanabe finished Joel Junio, the current PABA bantam champ now rated by the WBA, in the opening canto, Kiyoshi Watanabe also in one, Shun Kunashiri in 8, and Zaiki Wakemoto in 5, scoring 4 stoppages in as many bouts in the previous year. There are good boxers in the 122-division here in Japan-such as ex-champ Fukushima, ex-top contender Senrima (who will have a shot at the WBC international title shot against Manny Pacquiao in Manila on Feb. 17), ex-OPBF champ Shin Yamato, upcoming ex-amateur star Norihisa Momimoto, et al. Watanabe’s real power will be tested in his forthcoming title defenses.


Japanese #8 minimum Hiroshi Kasamatsu, 104 1/4, outscored #5 ranked Takahiro Uomori, 106, over 10. The winner is 9-3, one KO, and the loser 8-10-1, 2 KOs.

Promoter: Kenji Yonekura’s Yonekura Promotions.
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