Earlier today Japanese Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (30-8-3, 9) [野中 悠樹] recorded his 5th defence and over-came the hungry and young Ryosuke Maruki (12-4-1, 7) [丸木凌介].
The 38 year old champion was under-pressure early as Maruki, more than a decade his junior, took the fight too him and forced Nonaka to response, which he did time and time against. The pressure of Maruki had it's success, though Nonaka did land the more eye catching shots, including a vicious hook as Nonaka managed to find holes for his counter shots.
After 5 really competitive rounds the judges had their scorecards announced publicly, with Nonaka leading on two of those cards, 50-46 and 49-47, whilst the third card had the bout a more accurate and fair 48-48. Knowing he was behind Maruki looked to up the ante and increase the pressure, unfortunately the more he attacked the more he was countered and the more he was caught coming in by the more rounded boxing skills of Nonaka.
The challenger refused to back off until round 10, when he was starting to look tired, though it seemed clear that he hadn't quite done enough to over-come the champion. He had however impressed and done his career no harm with a sterling effort.
Despite the great effort Maruki did indeed come up short courtesy of cards that read 98-94, 97-94 and 97-95, all in favour of the defending champion.
For Nonaka the win keeps alive his hopes of, one day, having a world title fight. Though given his age and lack of internal acclaim he may find it difficult to get that opportunity. For Maruki the loss will be a set back, but not one that will derail his career and he will almost certainly bounce back and fight for this title again in the near future.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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