Just moments ago we saw Japan's Kenichi Ogawa (26-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] put in a career defining performance as he beat up slick South African fighter Azinga Fuzile (15-2, 9) to claim the IBF Super Featherweight title, and score the biggest win over his career. By far.
The match up was one that was slow to get going, with both men fighting very technically early on. Fuzile, fighting out of the southpaw stance, took to the ropes early on, fighting on the back foot and trying to lure Ogawa in. Ogawa came forward, but did so at a very controlled, intelligent tempo, as he looked to show that he two was a cerebral fighter. In the first round there wasn't much landed by either man and that was the same through the first 4 rounds if we're being honest. Despite there not being a lot of action, it was high level chess and it was Ogawa who was getting the better of it overall.
After the some what slow start that saw both have moments, not many of them, we saw the action really change in round 5, when an Ogawa right hand dropped Fuzile, hard. To his credit Fuzile got to his feet following the shot, which would have finished off most fighters, but he wasn't all there and he knew it as he got on the back foot and did what he could to survive the round.
The middle rounds were all Ogawa, as he pressured intelligently, backing up Fuzile and landing shots regularly, unlike the earlier rounds where his success was limited. The middle rounds really saw Fuzile struggle to get anything going and instead he ended up having his face bursted up around the right eye and his nose, which was bloodied in round 2, was leaking over the ring. Unfortunately for Fuzile his best shots never had much of an effect on Ogawa, whilst Ogawa's shots were having an effect on Fuzile, and Fuzile wasn't throwing enough whilst he was taking a lot.
In round 9 Fuzile's face got worse after a clash of heads left Fuzile with a bad cut over his left eye, which Ogawa jabbed repeatedly in the final rounds. To his credit however Fuzile had a very strong response to that cut, putting in fantastic efforts in rounds 10 and 11, as he appeared to throw caution to the wind and became the aggressor for the first time in the fight. It was nice to see him try something new, but it seemed like too little too late.
Thinking he was behind came out aggressively for round 12, but it appeared that Ogawa had lulled him in a little bit in the previous 2 rounds, and in round 12 the Japanese finished big, dropping Fuzile twice in the round to put any dounbt about the winner to bed. The first knockdown came with over a minute left and Fuzile got to his feet, but was down again in the final seconds of the bout, securing Ogawa a 10-7 final round.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Ogawa had clearly taken the win, but the judges, being judges, had the bout much closer than expected, scoring it 115-110, twice, and 114-111, a score that suggested Ogawa needed the big final round to win.
For Ogawa this win is, understandably, a hugely emotional one. He had fought in one previous world title bout, winning a decision against Tevin Farmer before being stripped due to a drug violation. This win will help but the ghost of that bout behind him. As for Fuzile, we wonder just what he will have left after this beating which was painful, tough, and punishing.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.