Yutaka Niida stopped challenger Jose Varela of Venezuela in the sixth round Saturday to successfully defend his WBA minimumweight crown for the seventh time.
Niida packed a heavy punch and wore down the 13th-ranked Varela with a combination of body blows, sending his opponent to the canvas at 2 minutes, 16 seconds of the sixth round at Korakuen Hall.
Niida could already taste victory after sending Varela down with a devastating left hook once in the third and knew it was only a matter of time.
“I’m so happy because it was the first time I was able to get a knockout in a world title bout,” Niida said.
Niida improved to a record of 23 wins, one defeat and three draws with nine knockouts. Varela failed in his first title shot, slipping to 15-4 (seven KOs).
It was Niida’s seventh consecutive title defense since beating Venezuelan Noel Arambulet in a rematch in July 2004, placing him fourth on the Japanese all-time record for title defenses.
Niida, who retired once while still the WBC minimumweight champion, came out of retirement and reclaimed the title after failing on his first attempt against Arambulet in July 2003.