Earlier today Japanese fans in Kyoto saw the national title change hands as Nihito Arakawa (27-6-1, 16) [荒川 仁人] reclaimed the title that he held back in 2010/2011, with a decision victory over Kyoto local Kota Tokunaga (17-2, 11) [徳永 幸大] .
The bout was Tokunaga's third defense and although he had been unbeaten in 9 bouts coming in to this one it was viewed as a step up in class. It was a step up that his team would have felt confident in, but one that saw him face a man who refuses to back down and always comes to fight.
The desire of the challenger was seen very early on as he dropped Tokunaga in the early stages, and again in round 5. Those knockdowns assured Arakawa the lead on the cards after 5 rounds, with the judges scoring the contest 47-46, 48-46 and 48-45 at the mid way point.
Tokunaga, to his credit, refused to just be beaten and tried fighting back in the second half, having a very good round 8 in particular, but it seemed that no matter what he did he couldn't hurt Arakawa or turn the fight around.
Despite the good round 8 Tokunaga was the clear loser, with the cards all judging Arakawa the winner with scores of 96-94,95-93 and 96-92.
The win for Arakawa completes a remarkable comeback to form for a man who's career looked essentially over just 10 months ago, after he suffered a 4th loss in 5 bouts. The move to Watanabe that he made last year has really revitalised his career. Notably this is the first "big" win for a Watanabe gym fighter in recent months following a run of high profile losses on the domestic or regional scene, including losses for Hikaru Nishida, Yusaku Kuga, Rikiya Fukuhara and Shin Ono. For Tokunaga however the loss is a major set back for the exciting Woz gym fighter.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
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