On paper one of the stand out bouts at the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year final's was the Featherweight bout, that pitted Hikari Mineta (5-1, 3) [峯田光] against Yuri Takemoto (5-1-1, 3) [竹本雄利]. On paper this was something special, with both men reaching the final in impressive fashion. At the Korakuen Hall today, both fighters delivered, albeit in very different ways.
Mineta seemed to realise quickly that his right hand was the danger punch against the southpaw. That however didn't really help him and instead it was Takemoto that took the early advantage, dropping Mineta 3 times in the opening round. That could have been it, Mineta could have been done there and then, but instead he battled on, and slowly began to crawl his way back into the bout, that was despite the fact Takemoto was all over him to begin round 2.
Mineta's success really was dependent on landing the right hand cleanly, something he struggled with. Despite struggling to connect with the right hand he was doing enough damage to leave to leave Takemoto's left eye swelling shut in the third round, with huge, purple bruising around it.
In round 4 it finally felt like Mineta could, some how, get to his man, and it became the edge of the seat type of fight. Takemoto however saw off the storm, and actually hurt Mineta in the 5th, and final, round securing the decision and putting it well beyond doubt.
In the end the score cards were read, 49-44, and 47-46 twice, all to Takemoto, who was a well deserved winner, and we do need to question how judges had the bout 47-46 given the opening round, which we believe also saw a point being taken from Takemoto in what was a genuinely crazy final minute!
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