The Boxingraise service has been truly fantastic and one of the best additions to the boxing scene over the last few years. Whilst it's not the cheapest service out there, costing 980JPY a month, it is a service that has promised a lot, and in terms of quality it has over-delivered with some amazing battles. Today we get to enjoy one of those as part of the The 2019 Treasure Trove. Boy is this a good one!
Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 12) vs Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) II
To put some quick backstory behind the bout. In 2017 the hard hitting Yusaku Kuga won the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, stopping Yasutaka Ishimoto. In his first defense he retained the belt by beating Ryoichi Tamura in a sensational 10 round war. Kuga would make one more successful defense, blasting out Ryo Kosaka, before losing the belt in July 2018 to Shingo Wake. In his second bout following that loss he got a shot at Tamura to reclaim the belt, with Tamura winning it after Wake vacated.
For those who haven't seen Kuga he is a rough and tough boxer-fighter. He's got heavy hands, though due to being a bit crude around the edges he can't always land the big power shots clean. When he does connect he hurts opponents. Sadly for Kuga his biggest issues have always been his defensive issues. Whilst he has a solid chin, he can be out boxed, and fighters who are smart, like Wake was, managed to out box him comfortably in 2018, showing up major flaws with Kuga.
Whilst Kuga is tough and heavy handed Tamura is more tough and high octane, but has the same defensively flaws as Kuga. What Tamura does so well is physically bully opponents around, pushing them around the ring and unloading an incredibly intense barrage of punches. That energy and output was seen brilliantly in his title win, in January 2019 against Mugicha Nakagawa, but like Kuga he could be out boxed. It was always going to take a very, very good fighter to beat him, but he was beatable.
When we get iron chinned puncher against an iron chinned swarmer we can get some spectacular fights and that's exactly what we got here. In fact this was one of those rare fights that got better the longer it went on.
In the early going Kuga took control, boxing and moving well, landing good clean shots and avoiding many of Tamura's wilder shots. The first 2 rounds weren't bad, by any stretch, but they were surprisingly quiet. Then things came alive in round 3, and in round 5 he put Tamura down. Following the 5th round we had open scoring and that point the bout seemed a foregone conclusion with the scorecards reading 50-44, 49-45 and 48-46 all in favour of Tamura.
Then the bout moved up a gear as Tamura fought like a man possessed trying to keep his title and drag himself out of the hole he was finding himself in. It was with Tamura trying to take Kuga out that we ended up going from a great bout into great bout territory.
If you like rough brawls, a lot of heavy leather and great action this is for you. The bout isn't the quickest to get going, but when it moves through the gears it quickly becomes a sensational war and something that is well worthy of 40 minutes of any fight fan's time.
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.