The defending champion fought well behind a busy left jab early on, but Nagamine refused to back off, and continually brought the pressure, despite his right eye becoming swollen and reddening quite badly early in the bout. The pressure of Nagamine had an effect on Kuroda, though the champion had done enough to impress the judges in the early stages, leading 48-47 on two of the 3 cards when they were announced after the 5th round, with the other judge aving the bout level at 48-48.
In round 6 it was Nagamine's turn to really up the ante, and he cut the distance and workd the body well, Kuroda tried to respond but it was a round to Nagamine who surged over the following few rounds, despite his eye swelling badly, and forcing a doctor's inspection in round 8. Almost immediately after the restart from the inspection Nagamine had a big break through, dropping Kuroda with a left hook.
Kuroda showed his championship level expeience in round 9 as he upped the pace and took advantage of Nagamine never going beyond 8 rounds. The change in tempo from Kuroda was impressive and something he managed to keep going with in round 10, despite a firce fight back from Nagamine. In the end those two rounds essentially decided the result with the judges scoring the contest 96-93, 96-94 and 95-94 all in favour of Kuroda, who moves a step closer to a world title fight.
Fans in attendance have suggested it's the top contender, so far, for the Japanese fight of the year and really was a special fight, as fans would have expected given the styles of the two men involved. For Nagamine the loss is a set back, but the performance will keep doors open for him going forward. For Kuroda a world title fight looms, and he could be just a few months from a shot at one of the champions.
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports)