Cristofer Rosales pulled off a shock victory in Yokohama to claim the WBC flyweight belt as the Nicaraguan defeated out-going title holder Daigo Higa.
Higa, previously undefeated and having knocked out all 15 opponents thus far, struggled to deal with Rosales’ constant pressure and eventually buckled.
Following an inside beatdown from Rosales, Higa’s corner pulled their man out in the ninth round after some solid uppercuts and combinations did the damage.
Prior to the ending, Higa attempted bravely to battle fire with fire but didn’t look the same fighter as before having struggled to make weight.
Losing his belt on the scales for coming in two pounds over, it was a step too far for Higa, who could now move up to 115 or even 118 pounds for his next bout.
At the time of the stoppage, judges cared 77-75, 79-73 in favor of Rosales as one had it an even 76-76 draw.
Rosales, who knocked Andrew Selby down in their 2017 meeting, picks up the first world title of his career.
In the co-feature, once-beaten Ryota Murata successfully made his first defense of his WBA ‘regular’ middleweight strap when halting Italian Emanuele Blandamura right at the end of the eighth round.
To the delight of the crown, Japan’s 2012 Olympic gold medalist proved too strong for Blandamura and moves one step closer to a possible meeting with the ‘super’ title holder Gennady Golovkin.