Kobe - South African Zolani Tete won the International Boxing Federation super-flyweight title by beating Teiru Kinoshita of Japan on a 3-0 decision in a battle of southpaws in Kobe Friday.
There were no knockdowns in the 12-round title bout at the Kobe Portopia Hotel as top IBF contender Tete kept sixth-ranked Kinoshita at bay with sharp left jabs, counting on his 11cm reach advantage.
The two fighters were vying for the title of the 115-pound (52.1kg) division vacated by another Japanese Daiki Kameda in March.
Kameda lost a unification match against World Boxing Association champion Liborio Solis of Venezuela last December.
Despite his defeat, Kameda was allowed by the IBF to keep his champion belt as Solis had been stripped of his WBA title for being overweight at the bout's official weigh-in. But Kameda finally renounced it amid simmering criticism against the IBF decision.
The 26-year-old Tete stretched his professional record to 19 wins, 16 by knockout, against three defeats.
For Kinoshita, 28, who works as a restaurant floor manager at a hotel near the bout venue, it was his first defeat after winning 19 matches, three of them inside the distance, and drawing one.
"After two rounds, I was sure I could win. If I fought more aggressively I might have won by knockout," Tete said.
Kinoshita said after his first crack at a world title: "I felt miserable as soon as the 12th round ended. I could not find a breakthrough. Frankly speaking, Tete was so strong."
Tete's left jabs and right straights prevented Kinoshita from boring in from the first round.
Tete, with more accurate punches, never let Kinoshita upset his pace although the Japanese tried to fight at close range in the last two rounds.
American judge Chris Flores and South African judge Deon Dwarte scored it 118-110 while Japan's Katsuhiko Nakamura carded it 119-109, all in favour of Tete.