1988-08-21 Jose Sanabria w pts 12 Vincenzo Belcastro, Sports Palace, Capo D'Orlando, Italy - IBF

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1988-08-21 Jose Sanabria w pts 12 Vincenzo Belcastro, Sports Palace, Capo D'Orlando, Italy - IBF. Referee: Joey Curtis. Scorecards: 114-113, 116-110, 114-115. Making his first defence it was not one of the champion’s best performances, despite doing just about enough to warrant the win over Belcastro (119), his work being the cleaner of the pair. Roared on by his fans and working away with both hands, Belcastro raised his game to take Sanabria (120¾) all the way to the final bell, but it was not to be.

On 1 September, the IBF fell into line with the WBA and WBC and from thereon all world title fights within the weight class would be contested over 12 rounds.