The early stages saw Tamura apply pressure on Kuga, but the champion managed to make the most of his speed to evade the pressure, and did just enough to take the first round, before landing a monster of a right hand in round 2, that Tamura took cleanly and stayed upright. Tamura seemed to be woken up by the shot and in round 3 he really got going, with 2 judges giving him the round.
Kuga battled back well in rounds 4 and 5 to strengthen his grip on the bout, but Tamura refused to go away, and continued to try to turn things around. This lead to some thrilling back and forth moments, though it seemed like the judges were always prefering Kuga's work, until round 8 when a clearly tired Kuga began to show his exhaustion. That really gave Tamura a big chance and in rounds 8 and 9 the challenger did all he could to try and stop the champion, who was running on empty.
Thankfully for Kuga he got a second wind in the final round, a thrilling round, and managed to see out the distance in a greulling contest.
With the bout going the distance the cards were read, with cards of 97-94, twice, for Kuga and a card of 96-94 to the champion, who took the unanimous decision and recorded his first defense.
The win for Kuga will serve as a great lesson, and exposed a number of flaws, notably his stamina, which he will have to work on going forward. As for Tamura he will almost certainly bounce back from this loss, and could well find himself in the title mix again in the near future.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)