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An African father's tough love pushes Japanese boxer to the top

Bullied as a child, Andy Hiraoka now sets his sights on a world championship belt

Andy "The Blade" Hiraoka poses at Yokohama's Ohashi Boxing Gym, which is run by former world champion Hideyuki Ohashi. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Going into the 11th round of the title fight, Andy "The Blade" Hiraoka had yet to shake off a hard-hitting opponent who was pushing him all the way.

Having gracefully dodged dozens of wild swings, the southpaw then fired a straight left and unleashed a right uppercut to put the slugger on the canvas. The referee stepped in to end the contest -- Hiraoka's longest-ever fight -- and the 25-year-old from Yokohama was crowned super-lightweight champion of Japan and Asia.

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