By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten OPBF 105-pound champ, WBC#11/WBA#12/IBF#13 Tsubasa Koura (12-0, 8 KOs), 104.5, barely kept his regional belt as he had a tough time coping with game and gallant compatriot Masataka Taniguchi (8-2, 6 KOs), 105, but showed a last surge to earn a hairline majority verdict (115-114, 115-113, 114-114) over twelve see-saw rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
It was such a close affair that they mixed it up with solid shots each other. After the fourth, the champ Koue was leading on points—39-38, 39-37, 38-38. After the eighth, however, Taniguchi overcame his early deficits on points and was slightly ahead 77-76 for him, 76-76 twice. It became a four-round fight with Koura scoring with a little more accurate shots to be awarded a very close decision.
Taniguchi may deserve a rematch.
It’s Koura’s first defense since he acquired the vacant belt by finishing Filipino Jaysever Abcede in four positive rounds this July. Koura, 23, is a bright prospect with speed and power, but this tough affair might be a good lesson for his future.
The main event was an eliminator to decide the mandatory challenger to national 154-pound ruler Takeshi Inoue, and former welter titlist, JBC#1 Takayuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8 KOs), an elongated southpaw at 153.5, opened a bad gash over the right eyebrow on JBC#2 Cobra Suwa (19-13-2, 11 KOs), 53.25, and was declared a TKO victor due to the latter’ bad bleeding at 2:08 of the third round in a scheduled eight. It will be a competitive combat between the slick-punching Shindo and the hard-punching champ Inoue that we will be able to watch in the Carnival of Champions next spring.