A number of recent bouts featured in this series have been bouts at the highest level, with world titles on the line. Today we drop down a level and bring you a Japanese title fight, though it did feature two men who would compete in world title fights. This, like many in this series, is a hidden gem, a bout that didn't get much attention outside of Japan and even now does really ever get spoken about. That's despite the fact it's a real fun bout between two men who really do get over-looked.
Suguru Muranaka (19-2-1, 5) vs Masayuki Kuroda (21-4-3, 13)
Heading in to the bout Suguru Muranaka was the Japanese Flyweight champion, having dethroned Takuya Kogawa in December 2013. His first defense was a mandatory against former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masayuki Kuroda, who had lost to Juan Carlos Reveco in a world title fight just a couple of fights earlier, the following April.
Muranaka is one of those fighters that really could have done so much more with his career, had he been committed and disciplined. He was a solid Flyweight, but struggles with the weight saw him become the first Japanese national champion to lose a title on the scales. He would go on to miss weight a number of times, even doing so when he'd moved to Bantamweight. He would fight for a world title in 2017, losing to Kal Yafai in the UK, but by then his career had started to leave people disappointed. Whilst his career didn't reach the heights once expected of him he was regularly in fun fights. He was strong, tough, came forward and made a fight of things. He had a a rugged toughness, a high work rate and despite his record not showing it, he hit solidly, with his power being enough to keep anyone honest. He was however a bit basic, and relied more on his toughness and work rate rather than his skills.
Kuroda on the other hand was a dedicated professional. He had began his career at Light Flyweight and went on to score solid wins over the likes of Shin Ono and Yuki Sano and he had also fought to a draw against Ryoichi Taguchi. Those came before he moved up in weight and challenged WBA Flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco, giving a Reveco a decent fight. In the ring Reveco was a solid boxer with a solid power on the domestic scene, a good work rate, and seemed to be just a touch under-world class. Coming in to this bout he had been win-less in over 2 years, but that had seen him fight in 3 draws, and lose to Reveco. Although he was lacking momentum at the time he was experienced, and their was real hope for him in the Kanagawa region. Those who are familiar with Kuroda will also be aware that he fought Moruti Mthalane in 2019 for the IBF Flyweight title.
From the off both guys looked to get a read on their opponent. Kuroda boxing smartly, trying to maintain some space and land his jab. Muranaka on the other hand was coming forward in bursts, staying quiet and almost trying to lull Kuroda before putting his foot on the gas. It wasn't a typical feeling out round, but it wasn't a war either, and both men managed to land some solid right hands.
As the bout went on the pace began to slowly increase with Murnaka coming forward more, trying to use his physical strength more against Kuroda. The boxing skills of the challenger were more impressive but Muranaka seemed to be happy to fight with the intention of trying to turn it into a brawl. Round by round we began to see Muranaka turning things his way, with more exchanges.
By the middle rounds the footwork of Kuroda was slowing down, and we began to see the two men spending more and more time up close. This was causing the action to get more and more brutal, more and more exciting and allowing Muranaka's arsenal to shine through with combinations of uppercuts and hooks. This caused Kuroda to respond as we got some amazing rounds of inside action, trading back forth at an incredible pace.
This had started calmly enough but warmed very nicely, and got better and better and better as the rounds progressed, becoming an excellent war through the middle and later rounds!
This was great, and this is our final treat in this series for you guys before Christmas, so please enjoy this bout, and enjoy tomorrow! Have a Christmas and stay safe everyone. We'll be back the final Closet Classic on New Year's Eve, giving you one more classic before the year is out!
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features