The two men had fought twice in the past with Kiyota twice stopping Matsumoto. We, and many others, expected this to be more of the same with Kiyota's power and strength likely to be too much for the gutsy but limited Matsumoto. Instead however it was Matsumoto who came out on top with a career defining performance.
From the off the challenger set the pace and the distance, he used his jab and movement to neutralise Kiyota who was left shelling up, and hitting air. The tactics were spot on from the challenger who had the lead on the cards after 4 rounds, with all 3 judges scoring the contest 39-37 at the time of the first open scoring.
To his credit Kiyota tried to fight back, and in rounds 6 and 7 he did have some notable success, before Matsumoto regain control in round 8, to secure a lead when the scores were announced for the second time. This time the scores were 77-75, 78-74 and 76-76, giving Matsumoto to majority lead on the cards.
Although winning Matsumoto was cut, from a clash of heads, and in round 9 that cut caused the doctor to stop the fight and take the contest to the scorecards. Given how the open scoring was after 8 rounds, there was no doubting the result with Matsumoto also doing enough to claim the incomplete 9th round on all 3 cards, resulting in scores of 88-84, 87-85 and 86-85.
Following the bout Kiyota made a clear hint that he was going to retire, and we suspect that he will officially announce it in coming weeks, after taking a break to look back over his performance, which was disappointing in all honesty. For Matsumoto however the result is one that really does define his career and it will go down as a victory to genuinely saviour for the man who had been written off by almost everyone, ourselves included.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)