UNBEATEN WBA and IBF super-bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev maintained his status as the leading 122-pounder in the world by stopping former IBF titlist Ryosuke Iwasa in the fifth round at the Humo Arena in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Fighting in his home country for the first time as a professional, Akhmadaliev dominated proceedings behind a hurtful, pinpoint jab in what was the maiden defence of his unified crown. The seasoned Iwasa fought gamely but was unable to deter his accurate and aggressive opponent in their all-southpaw battle.

As impressive as Akhmadaliev was, the stoppage did look premature. An array of uppercuts, hooks and straights forced Iwasa onto the ropes, but the Japanese challenger was still attempting to evade the strikes and score with shots of his own when the referee stepped in to halt the contest at 1-30.

Despite the questionable conclusion to the bout, Akhmadaliev was certainly well in command at the time of the finish and seemed to be on track to have his hand raised one way or the other.

With the win, the Indio, California-based Akhmadaliev improved his record to 9-0 (7). Kashiwa’s Iwasa, meanwhile, saw his statistics fall to 27-4 (17).

On the undercard, Akhmadaliev’s highly touted countrymen, super-lightweight Shakhram Giyasov and super-welterweight Israil Madrimov, each picked up emphatic victories of their own.

Giyasov knocked out Mexican portsider Patricio Lopez Moreno in the third (2-21), while Madrimov unanimously outscored the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Emmany Kalombo (100-89, 99-90 and 98-92). Kalombo was down in the eighth.