This past weekend Korean fans, and those tuning in on youtube, had the chance to see a WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title fight as Russian born Korean puncher Je Ni Ma (9-2-3, 8) [마제니] battled Japanese visitor Hironobu Matsunaga (11-1, 5) [松永 宏].
Sadly for the fans in attendance their guy failed to come out on top, with Matsunaga claiming a well earned decision win to become the new champion, albeit doing so with a split decision.
both fighters showed a lot of respect to each other early, and it did look like Ma was the naturally bigger fighter, he was however looking confused with the southpaw stance of Matsunaga, who made life very difficult for the local favourite. That southpaw stance opened up chances for Matsunaga's straight left hand with a solid one dropping Ma in one of the early rounds, and Ma was later hurt in the same round from another stiff left hand as the two men opened up on each other and looked to unload.
After Ma was dropped the action did become more excited and Matsunaga grew in confidence and Ma looked to wilt under pressure, looking to land with his power shots but not having success.
By the end of the bout it seemed like Matsunaga had easily done enough for the win, but one judge disagreed, with the score cards reading 114-113, 117-114 and very bizarrely 112-115. We're not sure what the third judge was watching but Matsunaga out landed Ma, hurt Ma and seemed to be the boss for vast swathes of the bout following the slow start. Ma certainly had his moments,and his heavy handed did give Matsunaga some swelling around the face but his lack of consistency and inability to cope with Matsunaga's movement and stance were big players in the result.
For Ma it may be a case of going back to the drawing board. The loss, his first since being defeated on his debut, will be a hard one to bounce back from. For Matsunaga however the win is career defining win and one that sees him claiming a major regional title, and potentially climbing into the WBO world rankings.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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