WBC #11 Kuga keeps Japanese 122lb belt

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda

We felt like slipping into another time, that is, 1980s. In such a furious and fierce give-and-take battle, WBC#11 Yusaku Suga (15-2-1, 10 KOs), 122, impressively kept his Japanese national super-bantamweight belt by winning a unanimous decision (97-94 twice, 96-94) over gallant challenger Ryoichi Tamura (8-3-1, 5 KOs), 121.75, over ten hard-fought frames on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.

Having dethroned then world-rated Yasutaka Ishimoto via second round stoppage this February, Kuga, a durable hard-puncher making his initial defense, took the leadoff, piling up points steadily, but Tamura, who lately scored four knockouts in a row, fought back much better than people expected.

Despite absorbing much punishment, Tanaka showed an incredible retaliation to hurt the champ with strong and smashing lefts to the liver time and again. But Kuga, one of our 122-pound world-level prospects, showed his heart in battering the game challenger down the stretch. It must be unanimously Fight of the Month.

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