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Top-ranked challenger Gakuya Furuhashi of Kawasaki Nitta Boxing Gym came from behind to stop Yusaku Kuga in the ninth round and wrested the Japanese super bantamweight title on Jan. 22 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall.
The technical knockout of the scheduled 10-rounder came 24 seconds into the ninth round when the 33-year-old Furuhashi, who had previously failed to win the Japanese title twice, rushed out of his corner and hit Kuga with a powerful right to the head, sending the champion hard to the canvas. While Kuga tried to get up, the referee waved off the fight. Up until the stoppage, Kuga was ahead on points.
After the fight, Furuhashi said, ‘’I was able to become the Japanese No. 1 at long last. Kuga was very strong. My heart felt like it was going to break. The result of my mental training has paid off. Also, I practiced many times by trying to get to his left side and hit him with my right. When the fight ended, I was so fatigued that I almost lied down then and there.’’
For his part, it was the 30-year-old Kuga’s second straight TKO loss following his first- round defeat to Jhunriel Ramonal of the Philippines in December 2019 in the World Boxing Organization Asia-Pacific super bantamweight title match.
While Kuga got off to a good start by landing left jabs and straight rights, Furuhashi managed to force the fight at close range. Kuga unleashed a barrage of left-right combinations to Furuhashi in the eighth round, Furuhashi withstood them and hit the champion with an overhand right shortly before the end of the round, and Kuga momentarily stood bolt-upright.
With the victory, Furuhashi improved his record to 27 wins, including 15 KOs, against eight defeats and a draw. Kuga fell to a 19-5-1 win-loss draw record with 13 KOs.