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Ryosuke Nishida Drops, Outclasses Emmanuel Rodriguez To Win IBF Bantamweight Title

Another bantamweight title has returned to Japan.

Ryosuke Nishida went down and outpointed Emmanuel Rodriguez to win the IBF bantamweight title. A strong early start, punctuated by a fourth-round knockout, paved the way for a clear unanimous decision. The scores were 117–110, 115-112 and 115-112 for Nishida in their main event broadcast by ABEMA TV on Saturday at the EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan.

Puerto Rico's Rodriguez (22-3, 13 knockouts) entered the fight as The Ring's number three bantamweight. Saturday's fight was his second IBF title defense, and his first fight in Japan.

Things got off to a rough start for 31-year-old Boricua. Nishida (9-0-1, 1 KOs), No. 9 for 118, he was strong early, especially physically. A left hook on the bottom floor ended the bout in one, as Rodriguez collapsed midway through the fourth round.

To his credit, Rodriguez bounced back in the middle rounds and did enough in the fight to earn the benefit of the doubt in every close sequence. Judges Gil Co (115-112) and Carl Zappia (115-112) had a much closer fight than most home viewers who followed the fight online.

Nishida appeared to be in the lead in the second half of the fight, as both fought through exhaustion. Rodriguez tried hard to counter late but didn't have enough to stop the 27-year-old southpaw.

Nishida closed out the fight strongly to seal his most important victory to date. The win marks the eighth straight fight for the five-year trainer, who has gone twelve rounds for the fifth time in his young career. He became the ninth player from Japan to currently hold a major title this Saturday.

Rodriguez is now just 3-3 with one No Contest in his last seven fights.

His only second title reign in less than nine months and without a successful defense. Rodriguez won the belt in a twelve round stoppage over Melving Lopez last August in the Washington DC area.

He was undefeated in the IBF bantamweight division during his May 2019 title defense against Naoya Inoue. Their World Boxing Super Series semi-final belt was white, as Rodriguez was defeated three times in the second round.

Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) continued to fully dominate the 118-pound division and claim The Ring championship. He also did 122, when he was RING, WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO champion.

The Ring Championship remains vacant at 118. Three of the four major titles in the division are back in Japan with Saturday's decision.

Junto Nakatani (27-0, 20 KOs) won the WBC title earlier this year with a sixth-round knockout of Alexandro Santiago.

Takuma Inoue, Naoya's younger brother, holds the WBA belt and defends against countryman Sho Ishida on Monday in Tokyo. The same show features Naoya Inoue's RING/undisputed championship defense against Tijuana's Luis Nery.

Australian Jason Moloney (26-2, 19 KOs) also appears on the show as he attempts to defend his WBO 118-pound title for the second time. Ring's No. 2-rated bantamweight against the undefeated Yoshiki Takei (8-0, 8 KOs), a partner of Inoue. A victory for Takei would give Japan the bantamweight title.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Follow @JakeNDaBox


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