By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Unheralded Korean underdog OPBF#13 Sa-Myung Noh (11-3, 3 KOs), 126, astoundingly captured the OPBF featherweight belt when he turned the tables on WBC#7/IBF#6 defending champ Ryo Takenaka (16-4-1, 9 KOs), 126, by scoring an unexpected knockout at 1:26 of the tenth round on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. After the ninth Takenaka was comfortably leading on points: 88-82, 87-83, 87-84—all for him.
But the champ, in round ten, very abruptly became slowing down and exhausted only to fall with a right shot to the head by the Korean challenger. Though barely raising himself to resume fighting, Takenaka looked so physically weak and powerless that he collapsed again with a towel fluttering from his corner. In Japan a towel-tossing during the referee administering a count has a stoppage recorded as knockout like this, not a TKO. His high pace in earlier rounds may account for his surprising forfeiture of the belt.
In the semi-windup, we also witnessed a come-from-behind stoppage as Japanese super-lightweight champ Koichi Aso (22-7-1, 15 KOs), 140, very barely kept his national belt when he, apparently behind on points, displayed a go-for-broke retaliation and finally halted the mandatory challenger Yusuke Konno (11-4, 5 KOs), 140, at 2:18 of the tenth and final session.
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