Japanese streaming service boxingraise gave us yet another treat earlier today as we got a Japanese Lightweight title fight between the popular Nihito Arakawa (28-6-1, 17) [荒川 仁人] and the gutsy Yusuke Tsukada (8-6, 3) [塚田 祐介]. On paper the bout was a total mismatch, with Arakawa a clear favourite to make the first of his title, but in the ring we genuinely got something really enjoyable.
The first round saw Arakawa stalking his pray, looking to put Tsukada under pressure whilst the challenger had the "deer in the headlights" look about him. Things went from bad to worse for Tsukada who was hurt in round 2 and then dropped as Arakawa looked for a quick finish. By the end of the second round Arakawa's left hand was like a laser pointed weapon and seemed unable to miss, as seen again in round 3 when he dropped Tsukada for a second time, with a single left hand.
Having been dropped twice it was fair to assume that Tsukada was a goner and that the end was neigh for the challenger who was set to crumble. That assumption however was wrong and instead of crumbling Tsukada seemed to growing in confidence and set off for round 4 with the intent of proving himself, and prove he was still a game fighter. As a result he really let his hands got and let Arakawa know that he was in a fight, cutting the champion around the right eye and leaving the champion with swelling under the left eye. It was a bullish effort from the challenger who was defiantly fighting off the champion.
The confidence of Tsukada was again seen in round 5, though by the end of the round Arakawa had regained control and the round ended with Tsukada wobbling to the corner, with help from his team. It was clear that Tsukada was running on fumes but with the crowd loudly cheering his name it was no surprise his team allowed him out for round
Sadly for the challenger it was little more than a last stand with the champion starting on the front foot and eventually dropping Tsukada again and immediately his corner threw in the towel knowing that enough was enough.
Going into round 6 Tsukada was well behind, with the open scoring having Arakawa up with scores of 49-44, twice, and 48-46, and his only chance of winning seemed to be based on the facial damage of Arakawa. The knockdown in round 6 seemed to make it clear that the challenger really did need saving, despite a gallant fight following the knockdowns.
We now expect to see Arakawa defending the title against Shuhei Tsuchiya (21-4, 17) [土屋 修平], who defeated Rex Olisa (11-30-1, 8) with a unanimous decision, in 2017.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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