1960-05-23 Joe Becerra w pts 15 Kenji Yonekura, Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - WORLD

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1960-05-23 Joe Becerra w pts 15 Kenji Yonekura, Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - WORLD. Referee: Ramon Berumen. Scorecards: 147-141, 146-142, 143-148. Considerably outreached, Becerra (117½) was consistently caught by lefts and rights to the body, and for long periods was unable to get to close quarters where he could settle down to work. However, despite being cut on the right eye in the ninth round, the champion chased the retreating Yonekura (117½) around the ring to just about deserve the split decision, if only for his aggression. Even the home judge considered Becerra to have been outboxed.

Becerra announced his retirement immediately after being knocked out in eight rounds of a non-title bout by his compatriot, Eloy Sanchez, at the Monumental Bullring, Juarez, Mexico on 30 August.

Shortly afterwards, Sanchez was matched against Eder Jofre, the unbeaten South American champion, for the NBA version of the title on the proviso that the winner would fight either Alphonse Halimi or Freddie Gilroy within 90 days. Unbeaten in 37 contests, Jofre certainly warranted the opportunity of a crack at the NBA version of the vacant title against Sanchez, having already beaten Joe Medel (w co 10 at the Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California on 18 August 1960) in a 12-round eliminator for the right to meet Becerra.

The news that Sanchez would be meeting Jofre ahead of the best in Europe, was totally unacceptable to the EBU who immediately responded by sanctioning a match between Halimi and Gilroy as a world title bout in its own right. A hard-punching southpaw, Gilroy had progressed well since winning bronze at the 1956 Olympics, having become the British, British Empire and European champion following victories over Peter Keenan and Piero Rollo. Along the way he had beaten Pierre Cossemyns, George Bowes, Johnny Morrissey, Jose Luis Martinez, Al Asuncion, Mario D'Agata, Bernie Taylor and Billy Rafferty before being outscored in his last contest by Ignacio Pina.