WBA super flyweight champion Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai 26-0 (15) comfortably outpointed mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez 29-9-4 (16) by unanimous decision at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday night.
The fight was at times a scrappy affair with head clashes and low blows, but the 30-year-old champion from Birmingham, England remained in control for most of the fight to run away the winner by unanimous decision with scores of 117-109, 119-107 and 118-108.
“It wasn’t easy, fighting in front of a very hostile crowd,” said Yafai after the fifth defence of his title he won by defeating Luis Concepcion in December 2016.
“I have a bone to pick with Eddie Hearn, my promotor, he put my fight in the United States for the second time. I am fighting in Providence, but little did I know that it is full of Dominicans!”
The 28-year-old Jimenez, who went 2-8-1 in his first 11 pro fights, was challenging for his second world title belt after previously beign held to a split draw against Kohei Kono for the WBA super flyweight title in Tokyo, Japan in December 2014.
In his second fight on US soil, Yafai outboxed Jimenez from the outside early on in the contest, but his body shots started straying low as early as the fourth round. A clash of heads opened up a small vertical cut on Yafai’s hairline in the middle rounds, which his corner managed well throughout the course of the fight.
Jimenez had his moments in the middle of the fight as he hooked to the body and looked to counter Yafai’s combinations.
In the eighth round a clear pair of low blows from Yafai sent Jimenez to the canvas and the titleholder was lucky not to be deducted a point by referee Danny Schiavone.
Yafai was scored a knockdown in the 12th and final round, but replays showed Jimenez was pulled down to the canvas by Yafai hooking his left arm around his head.
With the victory Yafai is looking for the big fights in the 115-pound division.
“I won easy,” said Yafai. “I learned a lot about myself tonight due to how to react from a cut I suffered in the fight. I want to fight the big fights next. I want (WBC titleholder Juan Francisco) Estrada, Chocolatito (Gonzalez), (IBF beltholder Jerwin) Ancajas. I want them all.”
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