Last year Japanese fight fans saw the popular Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-5, 18) [土屋 修平] claim the Japanese Lightweight title, with a career defining victory. Today he sought his first defense of the title, though unfortunately came up short against a determined Kazuhiro Nishitani (17-4-1, 9) [西谷 和宏], who scored his career best win.
The bout, a Champion Carnivalbout aired live on G+, looked like a really good one on paper with a heavy handed, but flawed, champion taking on a tough but light hitting challenger.
To begin with it was the challenger who looked the better boxer, using his skills to make the champion look second rate. the champion seemed to take offense to being out boxed in the opening round and turned the contest into a slug fest for the second round. The slugging was a better option for the defending champion and Nishitani knew it as he turned back to boxing for rounds 3 and 4.
Nishitan's success couldn't last and in round 5 the two men engaged in an up close battle, which suited the champion. The champion made the most of his opportunity to land his power shots and a powerful shot sent Nishitani down. The knockdown seemed to encourage Tsuchiya who then jumped on his man in search of a stoppage. Nishitani, to his credit, saw out the storm and was even on the open scoring after 5 rounds, with all 3 judges having the bout 47-47.
In rounds 6 and 7 both men looked tired and clean work as at a premium as neither man looked capable of sustain an attack. It seemed, with the exhaustion of both men, that we would be heading to a decision but remarkable Nishitani got his second wind in round 8, taking some solid shots before getting Tsuchiya on to the ropes and landing a brutal left uppercutt that helped send the defending champion down. Tsuchiya, to his credit, got up but looked spent and Nishitani knew it, charging in and dropping him for the second time, forcing the referee to stop the contest.
With the win Nishitani becomes a champion at his second attempt whilst Tsuchiya's title reign comes to an end after less than 3 months.
At the time of the stoppage all 3 judges had Tsuchiya leading 67-65, having given him rounds 6 and 7.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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