Yesterday, former three-division titleholder Akira Yaegashi officially announced that he is retiring from boxing with immediate effect.
The 37-year-old Japanese warrior won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight and flyweight in an action-packed 15-year career.
Yaegashi turned professional in 2005. In his fifth outing, he claimed the vacant OPBF 105-pound title. He made one successful defense before facing vastly more experienced Eagle Kyowa for the WBC strawweight title and was widely outpointed.
He lost his second comeback fight but rebounded to win three fights, which included a third round stoppage over a debuting Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He added the vacant Japanese national title and gained valuable experience with three successful defenses to earn a second major title opportunity.
This time Yaegashi wouldn’t be denied and stopped WBA titlist Pornsawan Porpramook in 10 rounds. Never one to duck a challenge, he met countryman Kazuto Ioka, then the WBC strawweight beltholder, in a unification scrap in June of 2012.
Both men fought on near-even terms but Ioka edged matters by a close, hard-fought unanimous decision.
Yaegashi returned north at flyweight and after one fight, won The Ring and WBC titles, outworking Toshiyuki Igarashi over 12 rounds. He turned back the challenges of Oscar Blanquet (UD 12), Edgar Sosa (UD 12) and Odilson Zaleta (KO 9).
He lost his 112-pound titles to supremely talented Roman Gonzalez in nine one-sided rounds.
Yaegashi dropped to junior flyweight and unsuccessfully challenged WBC kingpin Pedro Guevara (KO 7) in December of 2014.
After back-to-back championship losses, the end looked near. However Yaegashi decided to fight on and won two low key fights, then was matched with IBF 108-pound titlist Javier Mendoza.
Little was expected of Yaegashi but to his enormous credit, he found a way to summon one last big effort and won a 12-round unanimous decision.
He looked ready for the taking after barely getting by Martin Tecuapetla (SD 12) and stopping Samartlek Kokietgym (TKO 12) in title defenses.
Milan Melindo stunningly relieved Yaegashi of his title in a single round in May of 2017 to signal the wheels coming off but Yaegashi wanted one final title attempt and was hoping for a chance to become a four division titleholder at junior bantamweight.
Although his title opportunity came, it was down at 112 pounds, when he met IBF beltholder Moruti Mthalane in December of 2019.
It was a close-run fight until the South African took over from the midway point and stopped Yaegashi in nine rounds.
Since then, Yaegashi has debated his future and decided to call it a career with a record of 28-7 (with 16 knockouts).
The Ring would like to wish Yaegashi a very happy retirement.
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