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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Toshiaki Nishioka retires

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Former junior featherweight titlist Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan, one of the finest Asian fighters of this era, announced his retirement at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Boxing gave me so much happiness and I was able to experience special feelings. I was touched and moved with strong emotion from fighting and boxing.

-- Toshiaki Nishioka

Nishioka's retirement comes one month after he was knocked down twice and ultimately stopped in the ninth round challenging 122-pound titleholder Nonito Donaire on Oct. 13 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

"Boxing gave me so much happiness and I was able to experience special feelings. I was touched and moved with strong emotion from fighting and boxing," Nishioka said in remarks translated into English. "I was able to become a world champion and able to fight against Donaire in the United States in the main event on a major television station (HBO) in U.S. I am very satisfied with what I have accomplished with my life as a boxer."

During his 18-year professional career, Nishioka (39-5-3, 24 KOs), 36, had his ups and downs. He won the Japanese national title in 1998 and made two defenses. In 2000, he lost a decision challenging then-bantamweight world titleholder Veeraphol Sahaprom of Thailand. It was the first of four title bouts against Sahaprom during their 2000-2004 rivalry. But Nishioka never was able to win the belt at 118 pounds, settling for draws with him in the second and third fights followed by another decision loss.

Nishioka moved up to junior featherweight and, in 2008, he claimed an interim belt by outpointing Napapol Sor Rungvisai before being elevated to a full titleholder. He defended the title seven times, beating a series of top opponents.

For one of the defenses, Nishioka traveled to Mexico and scored a sensational third-round knockout in an upset against Jhonny Gonzalez, a former bantamweight titleholder who later won a featherweight belt.

Nishioka counts the win against Gonzalez as the best of his career.

"Looking back, I was very exited to defend my title outside of Japan," he said. "The emotion that went through my mind right after the fight was unspeakable. That was the kind of fight that I will never be able to experience that kind emotion ever again in my life. As a fight that I have emotional attachment is the fight against Napapol, (because I) became a world champion, which I dreamed of since I was 11 years old."

Nishioka also defeated top contender Rendall Munroe from Great Britain and former champion Rafael Marquez of Mexico in October 2011 in Las Vegas. After the fight with Marquez, Nishioka took some time off, during which he vacated his belt. He wanted Donaire all along and returned a year later to challenge him for his version of the title last month.

Nishioka said he was not retiring simply because he lost a lopsided fight to Donaire.

"The first week (after the fight), I was frustrated and angry, but it was just a result of the fight," he said. "I have given everything toward this last fight against Donaire and trained this past year. For that, I am very proud of myself and satisfied.

"To be honest, I feel I can still become world champion against anybody except for Nonito Donaire. There is no more motivation and emotional satisfaction I will receive by fighting anybody other than the last fight I prepared myself and fought against Donaire in October. This is the reason I decided to retire from boxing."

Nishioka, who does some part-time work as a boxing analyst on Japanese-televised fights, said he plans to start his own boxing gym in his hometown of Amagasaki, Japan.