Shuichiro Yoshino Overcomes Determined Former Champion In Masayuki Ito
An interesting crossroads battle went down as Shuichiro Yoshino (15-0, 11 KOs) took on Masayuki Ito (27-4, 15 KOs) on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin – Ryota Murata at the Saitama Arena in Saitama, Japan. Going in, it was Yoshino who had the greater momentum.
Ranked fifth by the WBO, thirteen by the IBF and fifteen by the WBC at lightweight, Yoshino has been impressive leading up to this bout. Defending the regional OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific lightweight titles, the 30-year-old intended to make a statement in front of a huge audience.
He faced an Ito who was the “it” guy, carrying the baton for Japanese fighters across the globe at 130 and 135 pounds. Ito captured the vacant WBO junior lightweight title by out-boxing Christopher Diaz in July 2018, defending that belt once before losing it to Jamel Herring in May 2019. But since moving up to 135, the 31-year-old has been up and down, going 2-1 in his last three fights.
HOLDING NOTHING BACK
There was no feel-out process in this one. Ito was aggressive in the early rounds in an attempt to show he’s the boss. However, Yoshino is a sound, fundamental fighter with power in both hands. He was able to find a home with the jab and land with hard combos to the head and body. The effect of the punches showed on the face of Ito, who was bleeding heavily from the nose by the end of round three.
DISHING OUT PUNISHMENT
The fierce, two-way action continued in the middle rounds. You could see the determination in Ito’s eyes as he was hell-bent on making this trench warfare. But Yoshino was able to respond in kind. Physically strong and the harder hitter, he was landing with sharp counter lefts and rights. By the end of the eighth, Ito was also cut over his left eye.
A hard clash of heads in round eleven clearly hurt Ito, who backed away claiming he was having vision problems. At that point, the action was stopped, and the fight went to the scorecards. The judges had it scored for Ito by technical decision (107-102×2, 106-103).
Overall, this was highly competitive, but Ito seemed to be always one step ahead. Understanding this was possibly his last big opportunity, don’t be surprised if Ito decides to hang up the gloves. Faced with the first big test of his pro career, Yoshino showed his class. Given his high ranking, look for him to continue to progress up the lightweight landscape.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.