Japan’s Akira Yaegashi made the first successful defense of his World Boxing Council flyweight title on Monday with a unanimous points decision over Mexican challenger Oscar Blanquet.
Yaegashi, 30, used his speed to try to catch Blanquet, while the Mexican relied on his reach advantage to keep the champion at bay. However, as the fight wore on the Japanese boxer connected with a number of body blows and a straight right in the eighth round put his opponent on the canvas.
“I fought in a way that was far from perfect. I have a lot of things to improve. I must work harder, otherwise I cannot keep on winning,” Yaegashi said. “I am still an untested champion, but I want your warm support.”
At the end of the fourth round, the two fighters were even at 39-37, 37-39, 38-38, but after the halfway point, Yaegashi’s body blows began to connect and wear the challenger.
In the eighth round, Canadian referee Len Koivisto slapped Yaegashi with a one-point penalty for a low blow.
However, with 10 seconds left Yaegashi floored Blanquet with a straight right for an eight count.
At the end of the round the Japanese was ahead on points 76-74, 77-73 and 77-73.
The Mexican chased with wide-swinging punches, but the champion countered with right hooks to keep the points gap intact.
After 12 rounds, US judge Don Griffin and Thai judge Noppharat Sricharoen identically scored it 116-110, while South Korean judge Lim Jun-bae carded it 115-111.
The win stretched Yaegashi’s record to 18 wins, nine of them by knockout, with three defeats.
For Blanquet, 28, it was his sixth loss against 32 wins, 23 of them inside the distance, and one draw.
Yaegashi, who stepped up two divisions since reigning as a World Boxing Association minimum weight champion, won the flyweight title in April by outpointing compatriot Toshiyuki Igarashi.