Prior to the contest we had expected a war, and it wasn't long until one broke out with both men letting their hands go early. Strangely Kogawa looked off from the early seconds and quickly ate a monster hook from Kuroda, which put the champion down. For a fighter with lesser resilliency that Kogawa it could have been the end, but he dusted himself off and went back for more.
The action, after that, was pretty 50-50 with both men giving and taking a lot. But it continued to look like Kogawa was just half a step off his usual self, as if his lay off due to injury had taken away some sharpness.
Despite the knockdown there was nothing between the two men after 5 rounds, with two judges having the bout 47-47, and the third favouring Kogawa 48-46. Sadly for Kogawa it seemed like those cards angered Kuroda and he stepped it up, putting Kogawa on the back foot and letting his shots go freely. That forced something of a response from Kogawa, but not enough to impress the judges, who were swayed to Kurodain a split decision, with scores of 96-93 and 95-94 in favour of Kuroda, and a card of 95-94 in favour of Kogawa.
With the win Kuroda avengesa previous loss to Kogawa, becomes a 2-weight Japanese national champion and takes a huge step towards getting a second world title fight. For Kogawa however the loss is a huge hit to his career, and has potentially cost him a world title fight and could be the start of the end. He didn't look his usual self at times, and his hard career may well be catching up with him, after so many tough and hard bouts during his 33 fight career.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)