Earlier today Japan crowned a new interim champion at Light Welterweight as Masanobu Nakazawa (18-1-1, 7) narrowly out pointed the gritty Masayoshi Kotake (9-10-2, 5) in an enthralling and wonderfully competitive 10 round bout at the Korakuen Hall.
The bout, which came about due to an injury to regular champion Hiroki Okada, was hot from early on with Kotake trying to bring the pressure and neutralise the height, and reach, advantages enjoyed by Nakazawa. Through the first 5 rounds it was competitive, though two judges felt Kotake was the over-all boss giving him a 49-47 lead on their cards when the scores were announced at the mad way point, the third had it to Nakazawa by a score of 48-47.
Knowing he was behind heading into the second half of the fight Nakazawa changed his tactics, let his hands go more, used his legs intelligently and began to carve back the difference round after round. By the end of round 9 it looked like he had just done enough to get his nose in the lead and in round 10 he refused to let that lead go.
Having been behind after 5 rounds Nakazawa managed to claim a unanimous decision win with scores of 97-95 and 96-95, twice. He'll now be the mandatory challenger for Okada when he returns to the ring.
Despite the loss of Otake it's clear he could be in some fun bouts with the likes of Koichi Aso or even Shinya Iwabuchi. For Nakazawa the focus must be on Okada and winning the title outright in 2016.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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