TOKYO (AP) _ Shinji Takehara of Japan dethroned WBA middleweight champion Jorge Castro tonight bu winning a unanimous decision over the Argentine fighter.

Takeharam, the WBA's fourth-ranked contender, floored Castro once in the third round of the 12-rounder.

Takehara became Japan's first world middleweight champion.

Unbeaten as a pro, Takehara now has 24 career victories, including 18 by knockouts. He turned pro in May 1989.

For Castro, 28, it was his fifth defeat against 98 victories, 68 of them by knockouts, and two draws.

The referee was American Mitch Halpern. Judges were Manuel Gonzales of Panama, Washington Gonzalez of Chile and Moon Moo-hong of South Korea.

Manuel Gonzales saw the fight 116-114, Moon 117-111 and Washington Gonzalez 118-112, all in favor of Takehara.

``He's a good fighter, and I couldn't close in and catch him because of his longer reach and jabs,'' Castro said. ``I'll fight him again and beat him next time.''