By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Elongated super-fly, ex-WBA interim flyweight champ Koki Eto (20-4-1, 15 KOs), 115, proved too strong and sharp for taller Thailander Sittichai Bensalaeh (10-6-1, 2 KOs), 114, blasting him out with his opening attack at 1:02 of the second round in a scheduled ten on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. Having failed to win the WBC 115-pound belt via hard-fought but unanimous verdict (116-112, 117-111 twice) to defending champ Carlos Cuadras in November 2015, the 5’8.5” Eto decked three victories in a row since. As he said “This is the first time I face a taller opponent than I,” the Thailander was a 5’10” lanky youngster who reportedly experienced more than two hundred Muaythai bouts. But it was Eto that easily caught the awkward opponent with a vicious right to drop him to the deck. Though regaining his feet, Sittichai quickly hit the canvas twice more with Eto’s wicked left hooks to the face. Now that the JBC abolished the three knockdown rule, it was registered as TKO for Eto, not KO as previously, despite the loser’s three visits to the canvas. Eto’s manager, former WBA champ Yoko Gushiken looked delighted to see his boy’s impressive triumph. Eto, though talented and physically gifted, seemingly needs more finesse to be crowned internationally again (he once acquired the WBA interim 112-pound belt in Thailand).