We may have seen a changing of the guard yesterday in Tokyo’s Ariake Colosseum, as stablemates Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi saw very different results in their latest title defenses.
Inoue (13-0, 11 KO) had no trouble with Ricardo Rodriguez (16-4, 5 KO) in the co-main event, blasting him out with vicious left hooks in the third round. The win marked Inoue’s fifth defense of his WBO super flyweight title, fourth by knockout. Hopefully, we’ll see him against one of the Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai-Estrada-Cuadras quartet once they resolve things among themselves.
Yaegashi (25-6, 13 KO), looking for the third defense of his IBF light flyweight title in the main event, squared off with interim champion Milan Melindo (36-2, 13 KO) one fight prior. Melindo, who had not stopped an opponent since 2013, stunned Yaegashi with three first-round knockdowns for the finish in just 2:45.
After the fight, Yaegashi was noncommittal about his future in the sport.
“I got hit with his left hook (for the first down), and looking back, it won him the fight,” Yaegashi said. “I wasn’t good enough to win. I have to accept it.”
Yaegashi added that he would have to sit and think about his future.
“I don’t know,” he said. “If there are needs for me, I’ll do it, and if there will be something that inspires me again, if there’s a fire left in myself, I’ll stand back again.”
Yaegashi is 34 in a weight class that’s notoriously cruel to its elder statesmen. Whatever decision he makes, he’s enjoyed an excellent career.