It took light flyweights Elwin Soto and Katsunari Takayama to add excitement to the Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Sauders undercard.
The undercard bouts for the Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders fight card were awful. Luckily, light flyweights Elwin Soto and Katsunari Takayama gave boxing fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, some excitement.
Soto successfully defended his WBO light flyweight title against Takayama and looked fantastic doing it. The 37-year-old Takayama was a great champion, but he showed his years early on against the fresh 24-year-old Soto.
Takayama was a four-time minimumweight champion and had a two-fight winning streak going into his contest with Soto, but his inactivity and age were major obstacles. Sadly, referee Laurence Cole was another.
In round 1, Takayama was hurt on at least three occasions by Soto’s right hand. Takayama was staggered and nearly fell in the closing seconds but managed to stay on his feet.
Things didn’t get much better in the next few rounds for Takayama as Soto repeatedly target his head with rights and left. Takayama was too upright and showed no shoulder movement.
Elwin Soto vs. Katsunari Takayama got stopped in round 9 by a terrible referee stoppage
Takayama got busier in round 4, but his pitter-patter punches couldn’t hurt Soto. The thuds from Soto’s hands were much louder than Takayama’s. Still, Takayama’s activity helped him recover a bit of lost ground and stay in the fight.
By round 6, Takayama looked loose and rejuvenated as he danced and showboated inside the ring. Takayama kept moving his hands, but Soto continued to power punch. Takayama got hit a lot in the last minute of the round.
The action slowed a bit down the stretch, but Soto started to hit Takayama a bit more in round 9, but Takayama was still in the fight and throwing back. That’s when the inexplicable happened.
Referee Laurence Cole stopped the fight for no reason and awarded Soto the TKO victory. Yes, Takayama got hit a few times, but they were trading shots. Cole’s interference was inexcusable. There was no reason to stop the fight.
Takayama continued to shadowbox to show that he wasn’t hurt. Soto was winning the fight, but the fight shouldn’t have been stopped. Soto and Takayama put on a show and deserved to have a better ending, but that was taken away from them by Laurence Cole.