TOKYO (AP) — WBA middleweight interim champion Hassan N'Dam survived a fourth-round knockdown on Saturday and went on to a split-decision win over Japan's Ryota Murata.
The crowd at Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo jeered after the decision making N'Dam the regular WBA middleweight champ was announced. Two judges scored 116-111 and 115-112 to the French boxer, but one judge gave the fight to Murata at 117-110.
Murata, who won gold at the London Olympics, was making his first world title challenge.
Murata kept edging N'Dam toward the ropes, often landing straights and bringing him down in the fourth. But N'Dam scored effectively with multiple jabs, circling around Murata, especially in the final rounds.
N'Dam, 33, improves to 36-2, 21 knockouts. It was the first loss for the 31-year-old Murata, who has 12 wins, nine by KO, after turning professional four years ago.
In other action, the 21-year-old Daigo Higa (13-0, 13 KOs) stopped Mexico's Juan Hernandez in the sixth round for the WBC flyweight title. Higa's win brought the first championship to the gym run by Japanese Hall of Famer Yoko Gushiken.
Hernandez fell to 36-4, 26 KOs.
Although Hernandez used his trademark footwork to flit around the ring, Higa's left hook brought Hernandez down in the second and fifth rounds. Higa stopped him in the sixth after landing a flurry of punches to Hernandez's body and head.
"I had faith in him. He promised me he would become champion," said Gushiken, who hugged Higa repeatedly in the ring afterward.
In an earlier bout, Japan's Ken Shiro (10-0, 5 KOs) defeated Mexico's Ganigan Lopez (28-7, 17 KOs) by a majority decision for the WBC light flyweight title. Two judges scored the fight 115-113, and one had it 114-114. The 25-year-old Japanese put the belt first on his father, a former Asian and Japanese boxing champion.
Separately, in Nagoya, central Japan, Japan's Kosei Tanaka (9-0, 5 KOs) defended his WBO light flyweight title for the first time, beating Angel Acosta of Puerto Rico by unanimous decision.
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