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Wins in Tokyo set up explosive Akira Yaegashi vs. Roman Gonzalez battle

Fighters Network
RING/WBC flyweight champ Akira Yaegashi (left) exchanges punches with Odilon Zaleta at Ota City General Gymnasium on April 6 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

RING/WBC flyweight champ Akira Yaegashi (L) exchanges with Odilon Zaleta at Ota City General Gymnasium on April 6 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Akira Yaegashi retained his RING flyweight championship with a ninth-round knockout of overmatched Mexican Odilon Zaleta on Sunday night in Tokyo. The knockout came at the 2:14 mark, after Zaleta went down from a flurry of rights.

Yaegashi (20-3, 10 knockouts) of Yokohama, Japan, retained his title for the third time since moving up from 105 pounds, where he had briefly reigned as a WBA titleholder. Zaleta (15-4, 8 KOs) has now lost three of his last four fights.

The most interested observer in attendance that night was likely Roman Gonzalez (39-0, 33 KOs), the former two-division titleholder who had knocked out Filipino no-hoper Juan Purisma in three rounds earlier in the night.

After the fight, Gonzalez entered the ring to congratulate Yaegashi and raise his hand in victory. In a moment that most likely had been planned out beforehand, Yaegashi then asked the crowd the question in everyone’s mind.

“Can I fight him?,” asked Yaegashi, according to Agence France-Presse. “I will work hard and try to win as long as there is a chance.”

The Nicaraguan native Gonzalez is promoted by Japanese outlet Teiken Promotions. He has held world titles at 105 and 108 pounds, and is currently THE RING’s No. 1 contender at 112 pounds.

Inoue wrests WBC belt from Hernandez

Earlier this year, two fights were too early for Vasyl Lomachenko to win a world title. But on the undercard of Yaegashi’s title defense, 20-year-old Naoya Inoue  (6-0, 5 KOs) knocked out Adrian Hernandez in six rounds in just his sixth fight to win the WBC junior flyweight title.

The time of stoppage was 2:54, after Hernandez was dropped by an Inoue right hand near the end of a furious round. Hernandez rose, but with blood streaming from a deep gash on his left eye, he turned away in surrender.

Hernandez (29-3-1, 18 KOs), who had made four successful defenses of the title, was ranked no. 4 by THE RING at 108 pounds.

Only WBC junior welterweight titleholder Saensak Muangsurin (3 fights) and WBA bantamweight titleholder Veeraphol Sahaprom (4 fights) have won world titles in fewer bouts than Inoue.