Earlier today Japanese fans saw the first defense of the WBC female Minimumweight title by the popular and surprisingly attractive Yuko Kuroki (12-4-1, 6) who narrowly over-came battled hardened Mexican Katia Gutierrez (19-4, 4), herself a former IBF world champion.
The first started fast with Gutierrez attempting to cut the distance from the opening seconds. Kuroki tried to counter the pressure of the challenger using her movement and whilst the movement did help her find some breathing space it didn't prevent her from suffering notable damage as early as the second round.
What the movement began to do as the bout progressed was make life difficult for Gutierrez to have any sustained success, despite landing the much heavy looking blows, with Kuroki managing to use her reach advantage to fight from a distance. It was fighting from a distance for the most part that allowed Kuroki to rack up the rounds she needed on two of the scorecards to take home the win via a split decision.
The scores rendered by the judges were 96-94 to Kuroki twice and 97-93 to Gutierrez. For what it's worth only neutral judge, a Swiss official, had Kuroki winning in what was effectively the deciding card.
For Kuroki this was a very tough first defense though post fight comments from both seemed to suggest a real mutual respect. Gutierrez thought she had just done enough to win against the fast champion and called for a rematch whilst Kuroki suggest she would like a rematch with the talented and heavy handed Gutierrez or unification bouts if they were possible.
The crowd really got a treat here and hopefully Kuroki's next defense will be just as competitive though we would understand if she took an easy defense following tough bouts with Gutierrez and Mari Ando in her last 2 bouts.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)