11-year unbeaten run ends

BANGKOK - Japanese challenger Daisuke Naito ended Thai Pongsaklek Wongjongkam's 11-year unbeaten run to win the WBC flyweight title in Tokyo on Wednesday.

BANGKOK - Japanese challenger Daisuke Naito ended Thai Pongsaklek Wongjongkam's 11-year unbeaten run to win the WBC flyweight title in Tokyo on Wednesday.

A determined Naito battled through 12 rounds to win a unanimous decision from the judges, who scored the fight 116-113, 115-113 and 116-113 to deny Pongsaklek a record 19th straight title.

The Thai southpaw, who has dominated most of his professional fights, was sluggish at the start and was taken aback by Naito's tenacity and indomitable spirit.

It was third time lucky for Naito (33-2-2), who has twice been knocked out by Pongsaklek, the first time in a record 34 seconds.

"I was super-focused but I wasn't sure if I could win," Naito was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.

"In the ninth round, I ran out of steam but I just pushed myself with all of my heart."

Naito said the fight could have been his last.

"I was ready to retire if I lost," he said. "All my practice paid off in the end."

Pongsaklek (65-3) looked in control midway through the fight as the Japanese started to tire, but Naito never gave in and had an answer for everything the Thai threw at him.

With both fighters cut above their eyes, Pongsaklek tried to gain the advantage after the eighth round and hurt Naito with a series of fierce left hooks. - Reuters

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