Masayuki Ito will get to count down the New Year with a big stoppage victory in his first world title defense.
In the main event of a boxing card in Tokyo, Ito stopped Evgeny Chuprakov to retain the WBO super featherweight title. The fight was aired in the United States on ESPN+ as well as the interim WBC bantamweight title fight between Takuma Inoue and Petch Sor Chitpattana that took place just before the main event.
Ito opened things up with a solid first round, landing the right hand with ease while Chuprakov barely landing anything as he clinched throughout the opening frame. The champion would continue outboxing Chuprakov throughout the first three rounds, but Chuprakov would land big punches in the fourth, including a left hook to Ito's chin. The rest of the round saw both men trade blows as the crowd at the Ota-City General Gymnasium was cheering loudly for the action to continue.
As the fight progressed into the middle rounds, both men would start receiving cuts thanks in part to several clashes of heads throughout the fight. Ito would still continue to land the bigger punches even while dealing with a cut right above the left eye. In the seventh round, Ito lands a flurry of punches that stunned Chuprakov into the corner and Ito let his hands go, trying to find the stoppage. The referee would step in to stop the fight with less than a minute remaining in the seventh round.
The 27-year-old Ito won the WBO title back in July when he defeated Christopher Diaz on an ESPN+ boxing card in Florida. The title was previously held by Vasiliy Lomachenko, but vacated the belt when he won the WBA lightweight title in May by knocking out Jorge Linares.