24.05.09 – by James Slater – It was a most eventful and somewhat surprising night of boxing action in Monterrey, Mexico yesterday, as WBC super-bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan got off the floor to KO Mexican hero and former WBO champion Jhonny Gonzalez in the 3rd round, and former bantamweight and super-bantamweight king Rafael Marquez returned to the ring after an absence of fourteen months to stop Colombia’s Jose Francisco Mendoza up at featherweight, also in the 3rd round..
32-year-old Nishioka, making the first defence of the WBC 122-pound belt he won back in January of this year, silenced the huge pro-Gonzalez crowd with his stunning win. Initially, it looked like it was going to be a Gonzalez night, as he put the champion down in the opening round with a big right hand to the head. The Japanese southpaw warrior recovered though, and after a cautious and pretty much eventless second round he scored his career-best win to date.
A hard straight left hand caught Gonzalez at around the midway part of the 3rd round and down he went. Referee Kenny Bayless, then waved the fight off at 1-minute and 20-seconds of the round as it was clear the 27-year-old was in no shape to continue. Now 34-4-3(21) Nishioka may well be on his way to some big paydays. Falling to 40-7(34) Gonzalez, who had won his last six coming in, has a most uncertain future.
Coming back to the ring for the first time since his three brutal and epic wars with Israel Vazquez, 34-year-old Rafael Marquez understandably had some rust on him. Working this rust off, the Mexican great got to his man in the 3rd round, as a right hand to the head staggered 37-year-old Mendoza near the start of the session, and then another big right put him down. Mendoza got back up, but was deemed to be in no condition to carry on. The official time was 2-minutes and 26-seconds of the round.
We still don’t know for sure how much the Vazquez wars have taken out of Marquez, but it was good to see him back and winning anyway. Will there be a fourth instalment in one of the greatest lower-weight series in boxing history? Vazquez, who suffered eye damage against Marquez, has yet to fight again, but has plans to do so. Maybe a part-four will indeed happen.
Last night’s big winner was definitely the man from Japan though. Little-known going in and having only his fourth fight outside of his homeland and his first in Mexico, Nishioka was not fazed by the hostile crowd at all. Not a monstrous puncher on paper (with a respectable 21 KO’s from his 34 wins), the southpaw, who had previously failed in four attempts to win the WBC bantamweight crown from Veeraphol Sahaprom, scored one big KO indeed.
Look out for Nishioka in the coming months.