The Super Bantamweight division is one that has really failed to shine at the world level in 2015, with the likes of Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton and Guillermo Rigondeaux all continuing to avoid each other*. At the lower end however the division has had some compelling bouts, several of which have included Japanese veteran Yasutaka Ishimoto (27-8, 7).
Ishimoto had a thrilling contest in August, with Gakuya Furuhashi, and followed it up on Monday with a brilliant Japanese title bout against the touted Yusaku Kuga (11-2-1, 7).
The match up looked great on paper, with a veteran skillster taking on a young upcoming puncher, and it proved to live up to the expectation.
The action was hot from the off with Ishimotop seemingly the more active and the more accurate but Kuga the more powerful, leaving Ishimoto with a bloodied nose early in the bout. Despite the facial damage Ishimoto managed to hold himself together and started to use his brain to jab and move, which saw him take a narrow lead after 5 rounds, with two of the judges supporting the Teiken man 48-47 whilst the third judge favoured Kuga by the same score.
In the second the competitiveness of the fight remained with Kuga looking for big, powerful right hands whilst Ishimoto looked for the counter shots and used intelligent work up close. The smart was what seemed to impress the judges, despite the fact Ishimoto did seem hurt in the final round as the two tried to close the show.
At the end the bout was seen as being razor thin either way by the fans, and that was shown on the cards which favoured Ishimoto by scores of 96-95, twice, and 96-94 giving him one of the narrowest unanimous decisions in history.
Following the bout Ishimoto seemed to suggest that he wanted to advance to a world title fight in the future, though timing is ticking on his career given he's 34, as for Kuga he will clearly come again and a bout in 2016 with Furuhashi may well be something he's looking towards. Despite the fight it's fair to say both are some way behind Japan's top Super Featherweight, Shingo Wake, who is expecting a world title fight next Summer.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
*Note we are aware that Quigg and Framtpon will face off in 2016, however that hasn't been this year.
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