STARS OUT FOR JOSHUA SHOWDOWN
KAL Yafai successfully defended his WBA superflyweight title for the second time by outpointing Sho Ishida to move into contention to fight some of the division’s biggest names.
The 28-year-old, fortunate to be fighting in an era in which there is an unusually high level of interest in those at 8st 3lbs, again demonstrated his potential at world level by easing to a unanimous decision victory at the Principality Stadium last night.
Japan’s Ishida, 25 and previously undefeated, consistently fought without the belief required to defeat the ambitious champion, succumbing by scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112 via the three judges.
Despite his superior range, he was outworked by Yafai - targeting both the head and body - from almost the opening bell, and took until the sixth to land a punch of note when he threw a strong right hand.
Yafai responded with three fine shots at the start of the seventh, and in the eighth landed the fight’s biggest punch when a powerful left sent the challenger back onto the ropes.
His constant and unanswered aggression ensured he continued to remain in control, and that only in the 12th round there was a need to resist anything beyond single shots from the unambitious Ishida, who rallied far too late.
Among his reputable divisional rivals, it is to be hoped Yafai can secure a unification fight against the highly-rated WBO champion Naoya Inoue, also of Japan, or Nicaragua’s once-great Roman Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, Irish star Katie Taylor claimed her first world title in Cardiff just 11 months after turning professional.
She came out on top in an engrossing contest with Argentine Anahi Sanchez that went the distance to walk away with the WBA lightweight world championship.
Things looked ominous early on as Sanchez, who was forced to vacate her title after missing her weight in the build up to the fight, dropped to her knees after a searing left hook from Taylor ripped into the midriff.
The count went deep but Sanchez survived and she began to grow into the fight as an all-out tear up ensued.
It was dangerous for Taylor, of whom so much is expected, and she took her fair share of shots as flurries of punches flew.
But to the judges it went and they scored it unanimously in Taylor’s favour.
Kal Yafai lands a right on his way to victory in Cardiff last night