Cruiserweight Yosukezan Nishijima came to the United States from Japan to avoid crowds. But when he stepped into the ring Thursday night at the Irvine Marriott, he was welcomed by eight Japanese still photographers and a cameraman from Japanese television, which bought exclusive rights to the show.
Nishijima gave his countrymen in the media something to write home about with an impressive six-round unanimous-decision victory over Kenny McCullough of Tampa. Nishijima raised his record to 7-1 with five knockouts, while McCullough fell to 4-7.
Nishijima's performance was far more interesting than the main event, which was won by Liberia's Sammy Stewart (7-1-1), who stopped Jose Luis Peralta (10-11-2) of Mexico in eight rounds. Referee Burt Gilliam stopped it on the advice of the ringside doctor.
Nishijima got McCullough's attention early with some heavy combinations in the first two rounds. He kept up the attack and never let McCullough find any punching room. McCullough, normally a super middleweight, said Nishijima was simply too big for him.
"I don't think he felt my punches that much," McCullough said. "I had to gain 10 to 15 pounds to take this fight. But I took it because I thought I could beat him."
Nishijima, who spoke through an interpreter, seemed more frustrated than pleased with his outing.
"It's the first time I've seen a left-puncher," he said. "I couldn't see where the punches were coming from."
Nishijima didn't have much side-to-side movement, but his body shots moved McCullough back far enough to give him punching room. In the sixth round, Nishijima did a little hot-dogging as he threw a karate-like jump punch that didn't connect.
"I think he was hurt and he tried to play it off," McCullough said.
McCullough said he was impressed with Nishijima's stamina.
"He's the type of fighter that you think is out of gas and then he comes out of nowhere with a bunch of punches," McCullough said.
Nishijima's next fight will be in Japan, but he expects to return to the United States, where he has fought five times.
"I prefer to fight here," he said. "I'm a very shy person. I don't like having people know me. I was very nervous with all the cameras here."
Japanese media said Nishijima is such a celebrity because he is Japan's only promising heavyweight.
On the undercard, junior welterweight Manny Castillo (8-1-1) of East Los Angeles withstood a first-round knockdown to win a five-round majority decision over Jose Ferrer (5-5-1) of Hanford. Junior lightweight Rodrigo Arando (2-1) of San Pedro won a four-round decision over Fresno's Rudy Cruz (2-8-3). Bantamweight Oscar Saenz (9-2) of San Diego won a decision over Rogelio Sosa (3-7-1) of East Los Angeles.