Yota Sato / Photo courtesy of Hiroaki Yamaguchi.
Sidney Boquiren recaps Sunday's super-flyweight clash between Yota Sato and Sylvester Lopez. For more Japanese boxing updates, you can follow Sidney on twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter
Yota Sato successfully made the first defense of his WBC super flyweight crown Sunday night, safely outpointing Sylvester Lopez to earn a unanimous decision. The swift 28-year old used his advantages in speed and height to keep the heavy-hitting Filipino challenger at bay. Boasting 15 stoppages among his 19 pro victories, Lopez was viewed as a dangerous opponent, but Sato took control early and continued to dictate the distance and pace of the fight throughout. Final scores were 119-109, 116-113, and 118-110.
Working behind his jab, the champion connected with his right cross frequently in the opening rounds to establish an early lead. Sato was well aware that Lopez had struggled to make weight – requiring three attempts to clear the 115-pound limit – and targeted the Filipino’s body early. Unable to build steam, Lopez’s wide punches would fail to find the mark as Sato skirted out of harm with ease.
According to Sports Hochi, the key round of the bout was the third. Though the challenger pressed forward and found some success in the opening moments when he pinned the champ to the ropes, Sato would turn things around later in the stanza. The beltholder followed a one-two with a hard right that buckling Lopez upon contact. Re-establishing his superiority, the champ regained momentum and would keep it for the remainder of the fight.
Sato would slow things down in the middle frames. While he would occasionally tighten up his defense to bring the fight to close quarters, much of his work was done from a distance as he looked to land the counter right. Lopez clearly had a difficult time scoring against the elusive strapholder, and Sato would land lefts to the body and one-twos upstairs while avoiding the challenger’s attempts.
Based on Nikkan Sports’ report, it sounds as if the titleholder was on autopilot for much of the later rounds. The tenth was a particularly good one for the defending champ, as he effectively blended pressure and out-boxing while increasing his overall output. The championship rounds were merely a formality as Sato cruised through the final six minutes, never in too much danger from the heavy-handed Filipino.
Sato, now 25-2-1 (12KO), may land a date with Tomoki Kameda for his next defense. The youngest (and perhaps most talented) of the fighting Kameda brothers, Tomoki (23-0, 15KO) has several regional and minor belts in his trophy case, but this would be his first world title shot. Kameda was ringside for Sunday’s bout and seemed to be unimpressed with Sato’s performance.
For more coverage of Japanese boxing, follow Sidney on Twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter