In a battle of former world champions to open the telecast, Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17 KOs) knocked out the Philippines’ Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16 KOs) with a devastating straight left-hand at 1:09 of the 11th round.
With the win, Iwasa earned the vacant Interim IBF World Junior Featherweight Title.
Iwasa, who held a six-and-a-half-inch reach advantage, was more consistent throughout the entirety of the bout, stringing together multi-punch combinations. The decisive moment of the 12-round fight came in the penultimate round, when Tapales was caught with a counter left-hand that connected flush on his chin and put him sprawled on the canvas. Tapales beat the count, rising after eight seconds, but referee Shada Murdaugh waved the fight off.
At the time of the stoppage, Iwasa led on all three scorecards (97-92, 95-94, 97-92). While Tapales was more accurate throughout the night, Iwasa was busier and landed 163 total punches compared to 148 for Tapales and held a 125-99 advantage in power punches landed. In the third round, Tapales was dropped to a knee after an accidental clash of heads. The clash, which was incorrectly ruled a knockdown, caused severe swelling under Tapales’ right eye and swung a would-be 10-9 round in his favor to a 10-8 round in Iwasa’s favor.
“I knew that I had him hurt in the 11th round and I was ready for the finish if the referee had let him keep fighting,” said the 29-year-old Iwasa. “It was a tough fight but I trained really hard for this performance. My height and reach was definitely an advantage. I was able to put my punches together well. He never hurt me but he was still difficult and I had to focus to figure him out.
“We’re ready for anyone next. I’m going to keep working hard to become a world champion again next year.”