Every fighter likes to perform well every time they are in the ring, they will however take a bad performance if it comes with a win, as was the case earlier today when Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (18-1, 15) [尾川 堅一] put in a forgettable performance but retained his title, with a 9th round stoppage against a determined Satoru Sugita (11-3-1, 7) [杉田 聖].
The fight started tensely, both men showed a lot of respect to each other and whilst it was clear their was some danger for both neither man really showed too much in the opening round. It seemed like their was simply too much fear and too much on the line for the two men to feel happy letting their shots go.
It was until the second round that we began to see the vaunted power of Ogawa, but even that didn't seem to really hurt Sugita who took the shots well and fired back, with both men keeping their output to single shots. It wasn't the barn burner we had been hoping for, but it seemed like the fight could catch fire at any time and that it could be over any second.
Sugita, feeling the power of Ogawa changed tactics slightly in round 4, and rather than backing off, he began to come forward and land clever jabs on Ogawa's face. Forcing the champion to back up exposed a number of flaws in Ogawa's skill set, including the fact that he appeared to have no inside game, and had little offensively other than his jab and straight. More worryingly it showed a lot of defensive flaws with the champion who continually dropped his hands after being hit. The jabs, whilst not hurtful, did take their toll on his face and lead to bleeding from the nose and swelling around the eyes.
Although less than impressive Ogawa was doing just enough to win rounds, and after 5 rounds all 3 judges had him winning, with the opening scoring stating the champion was winning by scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45. We couldn't possibly see a case for a shut out, but the 48-47 card for the champion did seem to be accurate.
In the second half of the fight Ogawa finally seemed to change the way he was fighting and appeared to hurt Ogawa for the first time in round 6. The challenger did excellently to see himself through the round, but it was a sign of the dangerous power and speed of Ogawa, who would have felt relieved to have finally broken through and hurt his foe. Ogawa's success grew in round 7 as he again let his hands go but that was soon forgotten with the champion have a very lacklustre round 8, in fact it was a round in which all of his flaws were shown whilst Sugita was made to look excellent.
With round 8 being a terrible round for the champion we suspect he was read the riot act, and in round 9 his power really told as he broke through the guard of the challenger, dropping him. Sugita, to his credit, beat the count, but was wobbling all over he place as the towel came in to save him.
From what we understand Ogawa's team were just as disappointed as his fans with a number of sources reporting that Ogawa's team thought he took too many shots, though of course the record books will merely show the result, which was a 9th round TKO win for the champion.
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