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Japanese WBC super-flyweight champion Katsushige Kawashima won a split decision over top-ranked American southpaw Jose Navarro in a world title doubleheader Monday at Ariake Colosseum.

The 30-year-old Kawashima improved to 28-3 with 18 knockouts. The 23-year-old Navarro, who was previously undefeated, dropped to 21-1 with nine KOs.

It was a bloody slugfest from early in the 12-rounder but the champion damaged Navarro with a flurry of hard body shots and an effective right jab as he got the victory.

“This was really a tough fight,” said Kawashima. “I didn’t know how the judges would score this bout, so I just had to pray that I’d win.”

Navarro opened cuts above both of the champion’s eyes in an all-out war, but Kawashima staggered Navarro with a series of combinations to keep up the pressure.

One judge scored the bout 120-109 in favor of Navarro with the others scoring it 115-113, 115-114 for the champion. Both fighters stood their ground through the final round, neither giving an inch as they slugged it out.

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