Masayuki Ito came to the United States in search of his first world title, and he’ll head back to Tokyo with the WBO super featherweight belt after a decision victory over crowd favorite Christopher Diaz tonight in Kissimmee, Florida.
Ito (24-1-1, 12 KO) won on scores of 116-111, 117-110, and 118-109. BLH had it 116-111 for Ito, who was fighting outside of his native country of Japan for the first time in his boxing career.
Ito, 27, started well and just kept it up throughout the fight. He dropped Diaz (23-1, 15 KO) in the fourth round on a combination that saw him land three right hands in quick succession, but the 23-year-old Diaz, a native of Puerto Rico, got up quickly and fought on.
By the later rounds, Diaz’s left eye was both swollen shut and bleeding, making him a sitting duck at times for the right hand of Ito, who was able to control the fight at pretty much every distance. That’s not to say that Diaz ever looked totally out of it — he was game throughout, never stopped fighting hard, and kept landing enough that he remained in the contest.
But Ito was the better fighter tonight, and the judges got it right — and there was certainly plenty of skepticism as we went to the cards, with Diaz having had the crowd heavily behind him, cheering everything he threw, let alone landed.
On the undercard, veteran Gabriel “Tito” Bracero stepped in on 10 days notice to replace the injured Carlos Adames, and wound up stopping Artemio Reyes at 2:43 of the fifth round on a body shot and a follow-up right to the head.
Bracero (25-3-1, 6 KO) came in 1-2-1 in his last four, while Reyes (25-3, 20 KO) had won 10 straight over marginal opposition prior to this loss. It’s not really an upset, but it’s a solid win for Bracero and will keep his name in the mix for TV dates. I could see Top Rank calling his number to fight a healthy Adames, for instance.