On paper the best looking bout at today's Strongest Korakuen show was the Super Bantamweight bout between veteran Jonathan Baat (32-8-5, 14) battle rising puncher Yusaku Kuga (13-2-1, 9) [久我 勇作], with the two men both battling for the right to challenge for the Japanese title in 2017. On paper it was a great match up, with Baat's experience and battle hardened mentality up against Kuga's youth and power.
Sadly the bout wasn't as competitive or as interesting as we had all assumed, in stead it was a bout that saw Kuga secure himself a title shot and prove that he was another legitimate player at Super Bantamweight, and one of the rising forces in the division.
From the off the 25 year old set the pace, using his jab to establish himself before following it up with the left hand. A headclash in the opening round slowed his charge slightly as the two men had a moment to recover but it wasn't long until he got back to work dropping Baat for the first time in the fight. Baat would recover from the knock down and took the fight back to Kuga, but that was a mistake with Kuga stopping Baat in round 4 with a brutal body shot that left the veteran in agony for the 10 count.
With the win Kuga has secured himself a second bout for the Japanese title and will be seeking revenge over Yasutaka Ishimoto, who beat at the end of 2015 in bout for the then vacant title. The win also netted Kuga a hefty bonus for being the show's MVP. For 36 year old Baat the loss was just his third stoppage defeat, with the others coming to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym and Rodrigo Guerrero, and this could well be the end of his long career.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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