After bringing a world title home earlier this year, Masayuki Ito got the chance to thrill his hometown fans with a successful defense of his WBO junior lightweight title on Sunday.
Ito (25-1-1, 13 knockouts) pounded Evgeny Chuprakov (20-1, 10 KOs) relentlessly in round seven, sending his mouthpiece flying and convincing the Russian’s corner to step into the ring to force a stoppage at the 42-second mark at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
Ito, who outpointed Christopher Diaz in an entertaining brawl this past July to win the vacant belt, had a significant height and reach advantage, and was in control from the opening bell against the relatively uncoordinated fighter.
Ito was most vulnerable in the third round when a nasty headbutt caused a long cut over his left eye. Ito’s corner, led by Rudy Hernandez, kept the cut under control and didn’t allow the abrasion to be a factor in the fight.
In the fifth round it was Chuprakov’s turn to start bleeding after a head clash opened a cut – a less serious one than Ito’s – on the corner of his left eye, warranting a visit to the doctor. Ito’s strength was apparent as he pushed Chuprakov to the ropes and landed right hands to the chin.
By the sixth, Chuprakov’s cut began to drip blood as Ito’s right hands continued to find their target. Chuprakov’s tactic of holding his gloves up in a peekaboo fashion while on defense gave Ito the invitation to pound the body on both sides.
With Chuprakov outclassed and overwhelmed, the corner threw in the towel, awarding the victory to Ito, who is rated no. 6 by The Ring at 130 pounds.
In earlier bouts on the card, Ken Shiro retained his WBC junior flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Saul Juarez, and Takuma Inoue claimed the interim WBC bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Petch Sor Chitpattana.
The Inoue-Sor Chitpattana and Ito-Chuprakov fights were broadcast in the United States on ESPN+.
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