Junior lightweight world titlist Masayuki Ito returned home for his first defense and laid a beating on mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov en route to a seventh-round knockout victory on Sunday at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Ito systematically broke down Chuprakov in a dominating performance before Chuprakov's corner threw in the towel to end the fight, which streamed live on ESPN+ in the United States. Ito used a consistent and punishing right hand and a withering body attack with his left hook to batter Chuprakov throughout the bout.
Ito suffered a cut over his left eye in the second round from an accidental clash of heads and though it bled, trainer and cutman Rudy Hernandez did a marvelous job of keeping the bleeding under control between each round.
Ito shook off the cut and dominated against the reckless Chuprakov (20-1, 10 KOs), 28, of Russia, who walked straight in against Ito, swinging wild punches and then paying the price by getting nailed repeatedly with clean shots.
The 5-foot-8½ Ito used his 3½-inch height advantage to his benefit. He kept Chuprakov on the outside and let his hands go against an opponent who stood right in front of him and suffered cuts over both of his eyes, though the one over his left was much worse. In the seventh round, Ito connected with numerous hard shots, one of which knocked Chuprakov's mouthpiece out. When referee Laurence Cole called a timeout in order to replace the gumshield, Chuprakov's corner threw in the towel and Cole waved off the fight at 42 seconds.
Ito (25-1-1, 13 KOs), 27, of Tokyo, won a unanimous decision in a mild upset against Christopher Diaz in an action-packed ESPN+ main event on July 28 in Kissimmee, Florida, to claim a vacant 130-pound world title. Ito won the belt that pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko relinquished in order to move up to lightweight, where he has unified two world title belts.
According to Top Rank, Ito, who has won eight fights in a row since a 10-round majority decision loss to then-undefeated Rikki Naito in February 2015, could return to the United States to make his second title defense against Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KOs), 33, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Coram, New York, who has won three fights in a row.
In the co-feature, Takuma Inoue claimed a vacant interim bantamweight world title by winning a clear unanimous decision against southpaw Petch CP Freshmart. All three judges scored the fight 117-111.
Inoue defeats Chitpattana for WBC interim bantamweight title
Takuma Inoue becomes the new WBC interim bantamweight champion winning by unanimous decision against Petch Sor Chitpattana.
Japan's Inoue (13-0, 3 KOs), who turned 23 on Dec. 26, was the obviously faster fighter and landed straight right hands and counter right hands throughout the fight to blunt the aggressive attack by CP Freshmart (48-1, 33 KOs), 25, who was fighting outside of his native Thailand for the first time and facing by far the best opponent of his career.
Inoue, who is the younger brother of three-division world titleholder and top-10 pound-for-pound fighter Naoya Inoue, outpointed Mark John Yap on Sept. 11 in a title elimination bout to earn the opportunity to fight for the interim belt.
With the victory, Inoue became the mandatory challenger for the winner of the vacant full title fight between former world titlist Rau'shee Warren (16-2, 4 KOs), a three-time United States Olympian, and former French Olympian Nordine Oubaali (14-0, 11 KOs). Warren and Oubaali will meet for the 118-pound belt on Jan. 19 on the Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner Showtime PPV undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
An accidental head clash in the second round opened a small cut on the bridge of Inoue's nose as well as a much uglier, bloodier cut over CP Freshmart's left eye. He bled from the wound for the rest of the fight.
Because the WBC's open scoring system is used for the organization's world title bouts that take place in Japan, in which scores are announced after the fourth and eighth rounds, Inoue knew he was ahead 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75 after the eighth round.
Although Inoue appeared to be tiring through the middle rounds, he came on strong to close the eighth round with a series of clean punches. He continued to land clean punches to the head and body in the 10th round as he stunned CP Freshmart and ignited the crowd.
In a third world title bout on the card, junior flyweight titlist Ken Shiro (15-0, 8 KOs), 26, of Japan, retained his 108-pound belt for the fifth time with a one-sided unanimous decision over Saul "Baby" Juarez (24-9-2, 13 KOs), 28, of Mexico.
The quicker Shiro moved constantly against Juarez, who could never catch up to him to land anything cleanly, en route to winning by scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109.
The loss was Juarez's second in a world title fight. He also lost a unanimous decision when he challenged Wanheng Menayothin for a strawweight belt in August 2016 in Thailand.