In Birmingham, England, earlier this evening fight fans world wide got the chance to see the warrior mentality of Japan's Suguru Muranaka (25-3-1, 8) [村中 優], who gave his all in a losing battle against WBA Super Flyweight champion Khalid Yafai (22-0, 14). It was an effort that saw Muranaka come up well short, but gain incredible credit in a performance that showed his desire, hunger, energy and toughness.
Early on it looked like the bout was going to be a total blow out with Yafai landing bombs whilst Muranaka walked in. Although Muranaka's game plan, like he said before the fight, was based on his pressure, that pressure seemed to be getting used against him as Yafai landed some thunderous shots to both head and body, and scored a very flash knockdown in round 2.
Despite being tagged hard early on Muranaka hardly looked bothered and he continued to press the action through the whole fight. He occasionally looked hurt, occasionally looked tired but always looked hungry and in rounds 4, 5 and 6, he had real success as Yafai seemed to run out of ideas a bit. The champion was still landing the better shots, but it was clear that he wasn't expecting Muranaka to still be there, and still be pressing the fight in the way he was.
Yafai managed to change things up a big in round 7 as he began to use his boxing skills and make the most of his more mobile legs whilst landing some solid shots, shaking Muranaka once or twice, and doing the same in round 8, a round that saw the champion being deducted a point for a low blow, his third or 4th clear low one.
Despite the point deduction Yafai was a mile ahead, and he further extended that lead in the following few rounds. It was however Muranaka who had some of the more eye catching success in round 11 as he went out looking for a stoppage. Although he went looking for it, it never looked likely to happen, though it did force some really big shots form Yafai as he looked to get Muranaka's respect again.
In the final round Muranaka again went looking for the stoppage and turn the bout around but was hurt late and never managed to land the blows he needed to shake up the champion.
The bout was a clear win for Yafai, with the judges scoring it close to a shut out, but Yafai was forced to work incredibly hard in every round and was given his stiffest test as a professional. As for Muranaka he's opened the door to some exciting international bouts, including a potential fan friendly bout against Jamie Conlan in the UK.
The loss sees Japan's hunt to win a world title in Europe continue, but the loss has really helped put Muranaka's name up there as a genuine continued, and helped restore some pride in the fighter following some real issues in the past with his weight. The loss was a clear one, but Muranaka's determination, heart and work rate won him a whole new fan base, and it's fair to say that he will be welcomed into the ring against almost any other Super Flyweight.
Interestingly Muranaka's countryman Sho Ishida is ranked #1 for Yafai's title, and that could be Yafai's next defense, later this year.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.