Nagahama looked relaxed as he began the bout, whilst Inoue looked like a man feeling the pressure of being a champion. The confidence of Nagahama showed early on, as he looked to apply pressure to Inoue, but it didn't take long for Inoue to find his range and use his his skills to gain Nagahama's respect, and build his own confidence.
The challenger had a good second round, pressing the action and landing one or two body shots, but it was clear that Inoue was settling and using his feet to counter the challenger, landing his stiff right hands and looking like a man who was realising he was the champion.
In round 3 it was Inoue who began to up the tempo, and Nagahama was forced to grit his teeth, with the challenger looking to move up a gear himself just to keep up with Inoue. It was something he couldn't do and by the end of 5 Inoue looked in total control, something that was shown on the score-cards which read 50-45, twice, and 49-46 in favour of the champion.
With a comfortable lead behind him Inoue could have turned negative and took an easy decision. Instead he turned vicious, looking not to just win but to make a statement and in round 8 he finally broke through Nagahama's resilience and forced the referee to save the challenger, who was spent and beaten by the time he was saved.
After the bout it was revealed that Inoue would look to fit in one more defense before the end of 2017, whilst it's back to the drawing board for Nagahama, who stepped up massively here, and was found wanting as Inoue was too good, too aggressive and too experienced for the challenger.
(Image coutesy of boxmob.jp)