Miguel Berchelt watched the prior wars for the World Boxing Council super-featherweight belt, and made note of the tolls they exacted.
The result of that study came Saturday night when Berchelt (32-1) roughed up Japan’s Takashi Miura by unanimous decision at the Forum, as judges awarded him scores of 116-111, 119-108, 120-109.
Miura, the former WBC champion who surrendered his belt to Francisco Vargas in the 2015 fight of the year, showed up as a reduced version of that fighter.
The 33-year-old swung his power punches in a desperate pursuit of a knockout and Berchelt, 25, spent the night avoiding the bombs while retaliating with clean blows to the head and body in his first title defense after stopping Vargas by 11th-round technical knockout in January.
“He’s fighting guys who’ve been battle-tested, battle-worn,” Berchelt promoter Eric Gomez said. “Miura’s dangerous, but, at this level, counting on one big punch to win it, that’s hard. Miguel fought a smart fight."
According to CompuBox, Berchelt outlanded Miura, 245-134, by wisely popping Miura with counter-punches and effective combinations.
“I knew this fight was going to be won with intelligence,” Berchelt said.
The tactical battle was a sharp switch from the prior brawls for the belt dating to Miura-Vargas, which was followed by Vargas’ 2016 fight-of-the-year draw against Mexican countryman Orlando Salido.
While Salido said he’s been promised the next shot at Berchelt by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, Gomez said Berchelt wants to return home to Cancun for a fight against someone else.
“I have proven that I am the best by taking on the two toughest champions in the division,” Berchelt said.
In the co-main event, the longshot bid of Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos to become a world champion with 12 losses proved a dramatic but ultimately frustrating pursuit.
Castellanos, after earning a World Boxing Assn. super-featherweight title shot at Panama’s Jezreel Corrales by upsetting Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa in May, scored two fourth-round knockdowns of Corrales to inspire his supporters.
The relentless Castellanos (24-13) was out-boxed through the next few rounds, however, and then was knocked down by a Corrales punch in the eighth.
By majority decision, Corrales won by scores of 94-94, 94-93, 96-92, successfully defending his belt for the second time.
The action extended into the 10th, when Corrales (22-1) accidentally head-butted Castellanos under the right eye.
“That head butt should have disqualified him. It could have been fatal,” Castellanos said after a cut burst open under his eye and a ringside physician advised the referee to stop the bout.
A relieved Corrales said, “This is probably the best fight that I’ve had in my career so far.”
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