Nishioka defeats Munroe

By Ziggy Shah: Rendall Munroe’s bid to become super bantamweight champion ended in heartache as he was beaten over 12 rounds by WBC Kingpin Toshiaki Nishioka.

Nishioka, 34, who came into the ring unbeaten in six years and with a record of 36-4-3, was always going to be a difficult opponent for the 30 year-old challenger, who was trying to emulate the success of Wayne McCullough and become only the second British boxer to win a title in Japan.

Munroe, who is usually a slow starter, came out fast and boxed well on the front foot. The early signs were that the challenger, former European and Commonwealth champion, was charged up and looking strong. The first three rounds were eagerly contested with both fighters looking to take control and landing clean shots.

Surprisingly, going into the fourth round, Nishioka began to breathe heavily and his work rate dropped. Munroe, who fought and won two eliminators for the right to box for the title, took advantage and put together good combinations as he pressed hard to win the round.

The dream was becoming a reality for the working class hero, as he went back to his corner accompanied by a loud roar from the supporters who had made the long trip from England.

However, in the fifth Nishioka reminded us why he had been unbeaten for so long, as he landed a shot that hurt Munroe. The champion, who was making his fifth defence of the title, carried on the onslaught and threw a fast flurry of punches that had Munroe covering on the ropes.

It was a decisive moment in the fight, as the southpaw champion now seemed full of confidence as he attacked and countered with relative ease.

The ‘Speed King’ Nishioka, who turned pro in 1994 and has boxed at the top level for the past decade, knew he was ahead on points and used his experience in the seventh round to put on an exhibition of silky boxing skills.

Towards the end of the session, he exploded with a hook to the body that seemed to drain the challenger. Munroe had no choice but to lean on the ropes and weather the storm until the bell came to his rescue.

When the results were called out in Japanese after the eighth round, the home crowd cheered. It was confirmation that the Leicester man needed to do more as he was behind on the judges’ cards.

The next round followed the same pattern, as the challenger jabbed bravely on the front foot only to be countered with beautiful shots to body and head.

The championship rounds were very one-sided, and at times it seemed as the onslaughts by Nishioka, who had a 53% knockout ratio, would bring him a stoppage victory. However, the brave Englishman, who was unbeaten at super bantamweight, refused to go down.

Going into the 12th round, the Munroe corner knew their man needed a knockout. But it was going to be difficult, because the champion had only ever been stopped once, a fourth round stoppage in his second pro fight.

Even so, the challenger came out trying to land the big punches, but his bravery was not enough as he was constantly caught by counters.

As the bell went to signal the end of the fight, there was no stupid winning gestures by the level headed Englishman. He just applauded his fans that had come to see him perform, and give it his all in trying to win the title. All three judges scored it the same, 119-109.

Munroe, who know drops to 21-2, boxed well throughout the contest, but the jump from European to world class was just too much for the working class hero.

He left the Sumo Hall arena inconsolable and in tears, but every fan up and down the country is proud of him. And I’m sure they will be many well wishers waiting for him outside their doorsteps, when he returns back to work, collecting bins on Tuesday morning.

Article posted on 25.10.2010

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