2003-07-12 Noel Arambulet w pts 12 Yutaka Niida, The Arena, Yokohama, Japan - WBA

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2003-07-12 Nohel Arambulet w pts 12 Yutaka Niida, The Arena, Yokohama, Japan - WBA. Referee: Armando Garcia. Scorecards: 115-114, 115-114, 114-116. Showing nifty footwork, the wily Arambulet (105) ran all night against the hard-hitting Niida (104½), who was forced to chase the champion throughout but lacked the experience to corner him effectively. Occasionally there were successes for Niida, especially in the seventh, eighth and 12th rounds when sharp lefts and good pressure pinned Arambulet on the ropes, but in the main he was outflanked and outboxed.

On 31 January 2004, Juan Jose Landaeta won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title on outpointing Chana Porpaoin over 12 rounds at the Poliedro, Caracas, Venezuela and successfully defended it over the same distance against the same man at the Rajadamnern Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand on 5 May 2004.

Arambulet (105¾) eventually forfeited his crown on 3 July after failing to make the weight for his title defence against Niida at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. However, the fight went ahead and Niida (104¾) was awarded the title after a 12-round-points win. Niida’s first defence would be against the ‘interim’ champion, Landaeta.