- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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If there is any kind of offseason in boxing, in most of the world anyway, it’s usually the second half of December and early January. But not in Japan, where having a big show -- or shows -- on New Year’s Eve is becoming something of a tradition.
So on Monday, there were two major cards in Japan featuring five world title bouts.
There were three In Tokyo and two more about 300 miles away in Osaka.
Here’s a look at the what happened in Tokyo:
• Junior lightweight titlist Takashi Uchiyama (19-0-1, 16 KOs) stopped Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez (29-1, 15 KOs) at the end of the eighth round to retain his belt for the sixth time. Vazquez was the mandatory opponent because he had been the interim titleholder.
• Junior bantamweight titlist Yota Sato (26-2-1, 12 KOs) kept his belt with a unanimous decision against countryman Ryo Akaho (19-1-2, 12 KOs). Scores were 118-110, 117-112, 117-111.
• Kohei Kono (28-7, 11 KOs) pulled an upset against Thailand’s Tepparith Kokietgym (21-3, 13 KOs) to claim a version of the junior bantamweight title. Kono scored three knockdowns in the fourth round for a TKO at 2:08. Kokietgym’s three previous defense had come against Japanese challengers -- Daiki Kameda, Tomonobu Shimizu and Nobuo Nashiro -- so Kono got a little revenge. Kokietgym led on all three scorecards through three rounds.
And here’s what went down in Osaka:
• Ryo Miyazaki (18-0-3, 10 KOs) won a vacant strawweight belt by split decision over Thailand’s Pornsawan Porpramook (27-5-1, 17 KOs) on scores of 116-111, 116-112 for Miyazaki and 114-113 for Porpramook, who is best known for being stopped in the 10th round by Akira Yaegashi 14 months ago in the spectacular 2011 ESPN.com fight of the year.
• Former unified strawweight titlist Kazuto Ioka (11-0, 7 KOs) stopped Mexico’s Jose Rodriguez (28-2, 17 KOs) at 2:50 of the sixth round to win a vacant junior flyweight belt. Ioka, who vacated his strawweight belts and moved up in weight, dropped Rodriguez three times, once in the first round and twice more in the sixth.