TOKYO – Takuma Inoue suffered a flash knockdown in the opening round before going on to unanimously outpoint Sho Ishida over 12 inside the Tokyo Dome. The judges turned in scores of 118-109 (twice) and 116-111.

Inoue scurried inside early, looking to attack the body of the taller Ishida, only to walk straight into a short counter left. It didn’t appear a particularly powerful blow – it was a jab-cum-hook – but it certainly landed in the right spot. Inoue tumbled to the mat, more surprised than hurt, and his stay on the floor was brief.

Inoue, defending his WBA bantamweight strap, was soon in control. He raided Ishida’s long, wiry body with hooks and took aim at the head with his honey punch, the right uppercut. By the end of the third round, Ishida's face was marked and, in the fourth, it looked like his nose was paddling in a pool of blood.

The squat champion upped the pressure, staying in close, deftly avoiding anything coming back. In turn, Ishida’s advantages in height and reach were largely made redundant. With the pattern set, Inoue grew ever more confident and Ishida – though dutifully trying to impose himself on the contest – increasingly desperate.

Even so, the challenger never once stopped coming forward, even if he lacked the effectiveness to truly threaten. He had some success in the 10th round and played his part in a furious exchange to close the 11th. Even in those moments, Inoue appeared to retain control.

Inoue boxed smartly in the last before Ishida – with blood still pumping from his nose – came alive with 30 seconds to go. Inoue, however, was never in any real danger.

Inoue is now 20-1 (5 KOs), while Ishida drops to 34-4 (17 KOs).

Earlier, Seigo Yuri Akui defeated Takku Kuwahara on points over 12 rounds to successfully defend his WBA flyweight title.

In 2021, Akui halted Kuwahara in 10 rounds, but a stoppage eluded the champion this time. The scores were 118-110 and 117-111 (twice).

Kuwahara enjoyed pockets of success as he opted to stick and move, but it was the educated aggression of Akui that defined the contest. Akui (20-2-1, 11 KOs) worked excellently behind a powerful jab that regularly snapped back the head of his opponent.

The champion, thanks to raiding the body and head with powerful hooks, had a particularly strong 12th and final round, by which time Kuwahara (13-2, 8 KOs) was exhausted.