Back in March the boxing world got it's first big upset of the year as one of the all time great Flyweights, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam was stopped in just 6 rounds by the unheralded Sonny Boy Jaro (34-11-5, 24). With the win over Wonjongkam, Jaro claimed the WBC and Ring Flyweight titles and was now making his first defence of the title as he took on the highly regarded Japanese fighter Toshiyuki Igarashi (16-1-1, 10), a former Japanese champion.
The fight started with Igarashi controlling the range well with his more controlled and accurate boxing but every so often Jaro would catch Igarashi with a solid shot as both men repeatedly tested the others' resolve. What started out as a high paced boxer v brawler contested would soon become an incredibly competitive war of wills as both men banged solid shots off the other head. It swiftly become Igarashi's crisper punching and superior handspeed against Jaro's teak tough chin and wild but thudding swipes as neither man took a step backwards. After 4 rounds the judges were split, with a score of 39-37 either way and a draw on the 3rd card.
During the middle rounds it seemed as if Igarashi started to pull ahead of the champion managing to show some glimpses of genuine class but then every time he looked like he was starting to control the bout Jaro would come charging back and try to steal the round. It seemed as if the world title meant everything to both men as neither man backed down. After 8 rounds it appeared as though we were set to crown a new champion then out of nowhere Jaro produced easily his best round and it suddenly appeared as if Igarashi, who had only gone 9 rounds 3 times in his career was starting to tire. Jaro seemed to be coming back into the bout and in a big way.
Going into the championship rounds it was anyone's game and whilst we had Igarashi in a slight lead we could see an argument for almost any score possible with only 3 or 4 clear rounds in the first 10. The 11th round however was, like round 9, a clear Jaro as he caused a nasty cut on Igarashi's eye and landed a number of heavy shots, it seemed as if Jaro was trying to close the show and whilst Igarashi wasn't badly hurt he struggled to get much off offensively.
Knowing the bout was close both men put it all on the line in round 12 with Igarashi taking the round and almost forcing down at one point as Igarashi turned up the heat and took the round with a blistering final 90 seconds.
The fight, one of the best of the year, was competitive through out with the score cards (116-112, 115-113, 112-116) all reflecting the competitive nature of the bout though it was Igarashi's work that was preferred by 2 of the judges with him taking the title back home. For Jaro it may well be his farewell, for Igarashi however it may be his coming out party. Whilst it's unlikely we would love a rematch between these two before Jaro hangs them up.