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Masayuki Kuroda loses decision to IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane

Kyodo

Japanese challenger Masayuki Kuroda fell short in his bid to unseat International Boxing Federation world flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane on Monday, losing a unanimous decision to the South African.

The judges’ scorecards at Korakuen Hall showed Mthalane winning 116-112, 116-112, 117-111 as he completed a second successful title defense in his second stint as IBF flyweight champion.

“I’m feeling very much happy because today I defended my best,” said Mthalane, who beat Japan’s Masahiro Sakamoto in his previous title defense.

“Kuroda kept working. He wanted the belt and gave his best as a challenger.”

Following a cagey start, the two exchanged heavy blows in the fourth round, with Kuroda taking a jab to the head before immediately rocking Mthalane with a right hook.

With Kuroda bleeding from a cut above his right eye, the 36-year-old Mthalane went on the offensive in the fifth, finding success with his left jab-right hook combination.

The 32-year-old challenger, meanwhile, looked to exploit his seven-centimeter reach advantage, attacking the body to keep his opponent at a distance.

Kuroda earned a huge cheer from the crowd as he tried to land a combination to end the sixth, but the champion appeared to maintain his guard.

Mthalane took control of the bout in the eighth and ninth rounds, inflicting damage with his left jab as Kuroda showed heavy swelling around both eyes.

Sensing he was behind on the cards, Kuroda tried to land big blows late in the fight, opening himself up to further damage from the champion.

With the win, Mthalane improved to 38-2 with 25 knockouts. Kuroda, the Japanese flyweight champion, dropped to 30-8-3 with 16 KOs.