Chris John successfully defended his WBO featherweight title for the 18th time, but not in the way he would have wanted as his fight with Satoshi Hosono in Jakarta on Sunday night was ruled a draw after an accidental clash of heads in the third round.
The Indonesian was fighting in his homeland for the first time in two years and looking for the 49th win of his career, but the evening ended prematurely when his Japanese opponent cut him in two places with an inadvertent headbutt after less than nine minutes of action.
With blood pouring from two different injuries, the referee decided that the WBA Fighter of the Decade was in no fit state to continue and called a stop to the contest to the disappointment of the fans in attendance at the Bung Karno Stadium.
The fight was ruled a draw, which means John’s record is now 48-0-3, while Hosono moves to 23-2-1.
It was a particularly frustrating end to the evening because the Japanese challenger appeared to be posing a bigger threat to the Indonesian’s unbeaten record than any of his recent opponents.
This was Hosono’s third time fighting for a world title and after falling short on both previous occasions he seemed determined not to leave Jakarta without the WBO belt.
He continued to apply pressure to John throughout the opening rounds and was able to land some hard combinations as the champion struggled to establish his jab.
The southpaw was causing John all sorts of problems, but unfortunately the contrasting stances were probably a contributory factor toward the clash of heads.
A rematch would be fair as neither man was happy with such an unsatisfactory ending to the world title bout.
Fortunately, the co-main event provided more than its fair share of entertainment as Indonesia’s Daud Yordan surrendered his IBO featherweight title to Simpiwe Vetyeka when he was stopped in the 12th round of one of the best bouts to have been held in Asia so far this year.
The South African held his hands below his waist, and looked to use his footwork and movement to elude Yordan, who kept coming forward, looking to fire away at his opponent’s body and head with hard hooks.
Although Vetyeka was on the back foot for the entire fight, he more than held his own in the exchanges, leaping forward to throw jabs and hooks that consistently connected, before expertly vacating the space Yordan was advancing into.
The best moments of the night for the Indonesian came when he succeeded in trapping Vetyeka on the ropes and went to work with his own offense, but for the most part Yordan was getting picked apart by the speed and accuracy of the South African.
It was the sort of fight which, stylistically, can divide judges, because Yordan was the one on the front foot throughout, but any doubts over the outcome ended when Vetyeka put him down with a hard right early in the final round and then finished the fight with a flurry of unanswered punches.
With the win, Vetyeka (25-2) became the new IBO featherweight champion, meaning both him and John are world titleholders in a division which is now home to last year’s Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire, who announced his intention to move up in weight after losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux in New York on Saturday night.