Earlier in this series we looked at a Japanese Midddleweight title bout, and amazingly the men involved in that would later go on to have a second thriller a few months later, giving us more amazing rounds of their rivalry. Unlike their first bout, which ended in a draw, the rematch left us with no questions as to who was the better man. Whilst we had a conclusive ending this time, it doesn't take away from the fact we ended up with another cracker.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
In March 2019 Kazuto Takesako saw his perfect stoppage run come to an end, as he was held to a draw by Shuji Kato in a mandatory Japanese title fight. For Takesako it was a successful defense, his second, but was a less than impressive performance. He had struggled mightily with the southpaw jab, the movement and the relaxed defense of Kato. The challenger exceeded expectations in not only taking the power of the champion but also landing plenty of leather of his own.
After 10 rounds both men had felt like they had deserved the win. Just 5 months later we saw them go again.
This time Takesako knew what to expect from the slippery Kato, he knew he had to find a way around the jab of the challenger and that he needed to find a way to neutralise the southpaw stance of Kato. As for Kato he knew he had to do more, and make sure the judges didn't have any questions as to who deserved the win.
The opening round was very much round 11 of their rivalry, rather than round 1 of fight 2. Just like their first fight Takesako was on the offensive, backing up Kato who tried to slip and slide, use the ring and his jab. Unlike the early staged of fight 1 Takesako was having success very early and was forcing his fight on to Kato, with the pressure having success early on. Kato was able to soak it up, and landed some meaty blows of his own, but it was clear, this wasn't a normal opening round.
If the opening round was round 11 of their rivalry then round 2 of this bout was certainly round 12, with the round being violent from the off. It was clear Takesako wanted to get revenge for being taken the distance and he was unleashing massive power shots. Kato was taking them, and landing some solid counters, but was clear having his toughness tested early. If he could see out the early storm then there was a chance he could get to Takesako late, especially with the way the champion was throwing everything with bad intentions, and leaving himself open for counters.
We won't ruin any more of the fight, but lets just say this is brutal, this is exciting and this is a bout that mean so much to both men following their draw. Neither man was in the ring to lose, and both had to dig deep with both men landing some very heavy leather as they both began to slow. A genuinely punishing battle for both men!
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.