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Fukunaga stops Nakagawa, becomes super flyweight triple crown titlist in grueling battle

Dec 15, 2020 11:19 am

World Boxing Organization Asia Pacific super flyweight champion Ryoji Fukunaga of Kadoebi Boxing Gym stopped Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa of Misako Boxing Gym in the 10th round and became a triple crown champion in a tremendous slugfest at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on Dec. 14.

The technical knockout of the scheduled 12-rounder came 2 minutes and 24 seconds into the round when Nakagawa was severely staggered with Fukunaga’s hard left, prompting the referee to call off the hard-fought battle.

With the victory, Fukunaga added the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation super flyweight title, which was vacant, in addition to the Japanese title. The 34-year-old Fukunaga became Japan’s fourth boxer in history to win triple titles simultaneously following now-retired heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto, super welterweight Takeshi Inoue and lightweight Shuichiro Yoshino.

Both southpaws started fast with Fukunaga throwing voluminous punches while the 35-year-old Nakagawa countering with his favorite straight lefts.

Fukunaga wobbled Nakagawa in the third round by landing a hard straight left to the head. But, nothing daunted, Nakagawa rallied by connecting with a pair of straight lefts.

In the fourth stanza, Fukunaga landed a right hook followed by a straight left to the head, sending Nakagawa down to the canvas. But Nakagawa struggled to his feet to beat the referee’s count and continued fighting.

Aware he is behind points, Nakagawa visibly rallied in the fifth with his voluminous punches with Fukunaga countering with left punches. The seesaw battle continued in the following rounds. Late in the eighth round, Fukunaga almost knocked down Nakagawa by landing sharp lefts. But Nakagawa was hanging tough.

While Nakagawa showed everything in his arsenal in the 10th round, the referee saw enough and stepped in to end the fight when Fukunaga landed a well-timed powerful left to the head.

With the victory, Fukunaga improved his record to 13 wins, all by knockout, against four losses, while Nakagawa fell to a 19-4-1 win-loss-draw record with 12 KOs.

After the fight, Fukunaga said, ‘’I like to get in a slugfest more than hit-and-away kind of boxing. I intentionally hit him hard since my (right) jabs landed my opponent well. True I am happy to have three championship belts. But I am happier because I was able to beat Mr. Nakagawa. I will be ready to take a crack at a world title next.

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