The fight in question took place at the Korakuen Hall as Koji Numata (21-7-2, 16), the #3 ranked, fought compatriot Takehiro Shimokawara (19-8-3, 6), the #8 ranked challenger for the vacant title.
Whilst the rankings of the two men were notably different their effective skills, will to win and talent were equal and the men had to settle for a split decision draw in what was one of the most competitive and well fought bouts this year. As soon as one man thought he had the initiative the other came back and took the following round with newly found vigour to win.
Whilst both men could have made a legitimate claim to have won the bout it would have been harsh on the loser and thankfully the judges, between them, came to the right decision in a great bout. Although the draw keeps the title on ice so to speak it was also a fair decision.
Unfortunately for Shimokawara we don't expect to see him getting an immediate second chance and instead we'd expect two other top contenders, such as Australian based Taiwanese fighter Yao Yi Ma or the newly crowned Japanese champion Takayuki Hosokawa to be fighting for the title. As far as thoughts towards a rematch go, it seems highly unlikely with Numata reported to have announced his retirement after the fight. Although he failed to win he did put on a great fight for the fans who will be happy to remember his effort here.
(Photo courtesy of www.boxingnews.jp)