FILIPINO veteran Donnie Nietes won a world title in a fourth weight category on New Year’s Eve in Macau, China. However, he was the beneficiary of a contentious split decision, with many observers believing that his Japanese opponent, Kazuto Ioka, deserved to be awarded the verdict.

Ioka was also attempting to become a world champion at a fourth different weight, but it was Nietes who secured the vacant WBO super-flyweight title via scores of 118-110 and 116-112, overriding a 116-112 card in favour of Ioka.

Now-former two-weight world ruler Hekkie Budler surrendered the WBA light-flyweight belt in the chief support. The South African was pulled out by his corner ahead of the 11th round against Japan’s unbeaten Hiroto Kyoguchi, who himself is now a double-division world titlist. All three judges had Kyoguchi ahead at the time of the finish.

In the third world title fight on the bill, two-time IBF flyweight king Moruti Mthalane kept his crown by halting Masahiro Sakamoto. The South African – undefeated since November 2008 – dominated his Japanese adversary, forcing the referee to call the contest off prior to the start of round 11.

The previous day in Tokyo, Japan, Masayuki Ito retained his WBO super-featherweight strap with a seventh-session stoppage of Evgeny Chuprakov. The local man was in command throughout against his previously unbeaten Russian rival. The end came after Chuprakov’s team threw in the towel at the 2-11 mark.

In the co-feature, Japan’s Ken Shiro maintained his perfect record by registering a wide unanimous points victory over Mexico’s Saul Juarez, who was challenging for world honours for a second time. The WBC light-flyweight boss triumphed by tallies of 120-108 and 119-109 twice.

In a clash of unbeatens further down the card, Japanese bantamweight Takuma Inouethe younger brother of pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue – unanimously outpointed Thai southpaw Petch CP Freshmart by three identical scores of 117-111. Inoue is now in line to face the winner of Rau’shee Warren-Nordine Oubaali, who contest the vacant WBC bantam belt on January 19.