Akira Yaegashi captured his third world title on Tuesday, beating IBF light flyweight champion Javier Mendoza by unanimous decision in a world title doubleheader at Ariake Colosseum.
The 32-year-old Yaegashi came out on top of a fiercely contested bout, following in the footsteps of Koki Kameda and Kazuto Ioka to become the third Japanese boxer to win three world titles.
“I thought about quitting at the end of last year but my family and the fans’ warm cheers brought me back to this world title ring,” said Yaegashi, who won the WBA minimumweight title in October 2011 and the WBC flyweight in April 2013 but was knocked out by Mexican Pedro Guevara in a WBC light flyweight title bout a year ago.
“Winning three different divisions is just a bonus. It’s a pleasure and also a job as a professional boxer to fight strong opponents, and the best return of favor from me to you all,” he said.
After evenly matched early rounds, Yaegashi landed a left-right combination to Mendoza’s face in the eighth and another clean strike with a right that wobbled Mendoza in the 10th, but the Mexican still managed to hit back on the counter.
Mendoza also withstood Yaegashi’s rush late in the 11th but finally staggered with a minute to go in the final round, and Yaegashi looked convinced of the win despite the bout going to points. He improved to 23-5 with 12 knockouts.
Also Tuesday, WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue, back a year after his title-winning bout, had much less trouble as he recorded an emphatic win over No. 1-ranked challenger Warlito Parrenas in his first title defense.
The Filipino had no answers to stunningly fast blows from Inoue, who floored him twice in the second round, using both his fists before the referee intervened to hand the impressive Japanese the technical knockout win.
“I was itching all this year and trained like hell, and I’m relieved with the result,” said Inoue. “I fought with a sense of tension today and it was a great experience. I would like to fight in the United States, too, if offers come along.”
The 22-year-old Inoue became the first Japanese fighter to win two world titles in just eight fights at the end of last year when he knocked out defending champion Argentine Omar Narvaez also in two rounds. He injured his right hand in the bout, however, and revealed he had a surgery in March after his win over Parrenas.
Eight of Inoue’s nine wins have come by knockout.