The Green Tsuda gym isn't one of the biggest ones in Japan. In fact in recent years the gym has struggled to create champions at any level in the sport. Today however they got their hands on the OPBF Bantamweight title as the battle hardened Yu Kawaguchi (23-6, 10) managed to claim a split decision win over Ioka's gym hard hitting Takahiro Yamamoto (15-4, 12).
Kawaguchi, who was considering retirement if he lost, seemed to know this was a make or break fight for his career and was his second title fight following a loss last year to Kentaro Masuda in Japanese title fight. Although aware that this was a must win bout he was also confident that he knew what he opponent had in his arsenal, having previously sparred with Yamamoto.
The two men didn't take long to get to know each other once again and the action, whilst not the highest quality, was engaging from very early on. It always seemed like Kawaguchi was the one landing the better blows but the force on Yamamoto's punches always made him appear dangerous.
The action was tight and swung one way and then the other with both men trying to have the last word in the exchanges. This lead to some really competitive rounds and great action though in the end Kawaguchi's experience seemed to help him just get over the line and take home the win.
The win for Kawaguchi will see him continuing his career and will see him looking to defend his title later this year, likely in the fall. As for Yamamoto it is back to the drawing board though it's clear he will come again and we wouldn't be surprised to see him claiming a title in the next year or two. The loss for Yamamoto will serve him very well in the long run and will help him with development as a professional fighter.
(Image courtesy of the Ioka boxing blog)
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