Yesterday fans in Osaka saw Japan's Shota Kawaguchi (19-7-1, 8) [川口 勝太] claim a career best victory as he narrowly out-pointed Jonathan Francisco (8-6-1, 2) in a 10 round battle, and potentially moved to within a step of a title bout.
The hard working Kawaguchi had a 2015 to forget, twice losing to Sonny Boy Jaro, and his career was looking like it could potentially have been over following a third loss in 4 bouts. Yesterday however he gritted his teeth, fought like a man who knew he couldn't have another set back and fought like a warrior despite an inability to really shake up Filipino opponent Jonathan Francisco.
Francisco, to his credit, was the under-sized man, and the man with something to losing entering as an OPBF ranked Flyweight. He knew he too had to put up a good performance given that last time out he had suffered a loss, in an OPBF title fight, to Ardin Diale.
The fight saw Kawaguchi making the most of his size advantage early on and using his 1-2 to establish range and tempo of the bout. That however was a dangerous move with Francisco swinging in some huge right hands, looking to give the local favourite some genuine discomfort. Francisco tried to land the big right hands but often fell short and become more desperate with Kawaguchi landing the better shots, in a number of rounds.
As the bout reached it's final stages both got sloppy with Kawaguchi suffering a cut from a clash of heads and the final round being very sloppy due to the exhaustion of both men.
Although some rounds were very competitive, and other were won by the fact Francisco landed a number of booming right hands, the bout was never really in too much doubt with Kawaguchi winning a unanimous decision with scores of 98-94, 97-95 and 97-93. Following the win he suggested that he was now looking to get a bout for either a Japanese or OPBF title. Sadly however for him, it's unlikely that he'd manage to win a title at either level, at least for now. Though with strong backing he could be just a fight or two away from getting a big opportunity.
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