KOBE - Ryuya Yamanaka was unable to defend his WBO minimumweight title on Friday night, relinquishing the crown to Filipino challenger Vic Saludar in a unanimous decision.
Yamanaka (16-3, five knockouts) started his second title defense at Kobe’s Central Gym strongly and appeared to get the better of Saludar (18-3, 10 KOs) in the early rounds.
The 23-year-old tagged Saludar with a left hook to the head and landed scoring punches to his body in an impressive second round.
However, the 27-year-old Saludar picked up his pace as the rounds progressed and looked firmly in control after dropping Yamanaka to the canvas in the seventh.
After an exchange of blows in the center of the ring, Saludar followed a left jab with a straight right to the head that floored Yamanaka with a minute left in the round.
Yamanaka won the WBO minimumweight crown from countryman Tatsuya Fukuhara last August. He successfully defended the belt against Moises Calleros of Mexico in March.