Undefeated Japanese champion Shokichi Iwata of Teiken Boxing Gym hammered out a 12-round unanimous decision over Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation kingpin Kenichi Horikawa in a light flyweight title unification fight on July 2 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall.
With the victory, the 26-year-old Iwata also captured the vacant World Boxing Organization’s Asia-Pacific light flyweight crown, winning all the three regional titles of the 108-pound (48.97 kg) division. WBO’s regional title was left vacant by Riku Kano of Taisei Boxing Gym earlier this year as Kano moved up in weight to flyweight.
With the day’s win, Iwata also successfully defended his Japanese light flyweight title twice. Meanwhile, the 42-year-old Horikawa failed in his first defense of the title he won by stopping Daiki Tomita in the 10th round to capture the vacant OPBF title in July 2020. It was his first fight since then.
While there were no knockdowns throughout the-12 round fight, it was Iwata who got off to a quick start with his straight rights and right hooks to the body. Iwata continued his offense by befuddling his older opponent by moving quickly.
Though Horikawa gradually pressed forward by landing body shots, he was way behind on three judges’ scorecards after the eighth round and could not put his punches together in the latter part of the fight. But Horikawa showed his mettle by exchanging fierce blows in the 12th and final round with Iwata.
After the fight, Iwata said, ‘’I learned a lot from Mr. Horikawa on various aspects of boxing because of his long career. Anyway, I am glad that I was able to come through today. I am determined to study boxing more so that I can fight my fight for12 rounds. I will train harder and will become a world champion without fail.’’
With the victory, Iwata extended his unbeaten streak to nine, including six KOs. For his part, Horikawa fell to a 41-17-1 win-loss-draw tally with 14 KOs.