• Kyodo News


Daisuke Naito won a unanimous decision over Xiong Zhaozhong of China on Tuesday to successfully defend the WBC flyweight title for the fifth time.

With the victory, Naito rewrote his own record for the oldest Japanese boxer to defend a world title at 34 years, 8 months. He improved his record to 35 wins, 22 by way of knockout, two defeats and three draws.

“I want to apologize for a poorly fought match but this was the extent of my ability. I still have a lot to work on,” Naito said. “No one is weak in the world rankings. I didn’t take my opponent lightly, but I realize how difficult boxing is.”

The 10th-ranked Xiong, the first Chinese male to take a crack at a world title, slipped to 12-2-1 (eight KOs). But Xiong had Naito on the ropes at points in the bout and sent the champion to the canvas with a crushing right to the jaw in the sixth at Differ Ariake.

Naito, who never relented despite being cut above both eyes in the slugfest, also matched the late Masao Oba for the number of flyweight title defenses by a Japanese boxer.

The match was originally scheduled to take place the same day in Shanghai but it was switched to Tokyo just three days prior after negotiations between Naito’s Miyata gym and its Chinese counterpart broke down.

Elsewhere, Japanese challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka lost a split decision the same day against Thai champion Denkaosan Kaowichit for the WBA flyweight crown in his second attempt at a world title held in Uttaradit, Thailand.

Denkaosan, who captured the title in a stunning second-round knockout of former champion Takefumi Sakata on New Year’s Eve, was successful in his first title defense.

Hisataka was hoping to become the first Japanese challenger to win a world title bout overseas since WBA super lightweight champion Akinobu Hiranaka achieved the feat in Mexico in 1992 but instead became the 26th consecutive casualty.

Denkaosan improved to 47-1-1, including 20 knockouts.

“I was able to maintain my stamina up until the sixth round. I got hit with a lot of Hisataka’s punches. If he punched harder, I might have been knocked out,” Denkaosan said.

Hisataka, who slipped to 17-8-1 (six KOs), kept his distance as he tried to set up Denkaosan with a counterpunch and pushed the tiring Thai champion to the brink.

“He was an easy opponent for me. After hitting him with a big punch and piling on more he would escape in the clinch,” Hisataka said. “It’s too bad I wasn’t able to win this match. I’d like to fight in Japan next.”

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