Masatate Tsuji: R.I.P.

By Ted Sares: One more round and you’ll become the champ. --- Tsuji’s corner

Fall seven times, stand up eight —Japanese proverb

Tsuji recently upset ex-world challenger and ex-OPBF title holder Akira Yaegashi by majority decision last July to become a top contender..

With a 12-2-2 mark, he met Yuji Kanemitsu, 12-2, in a bout for the vacant Japanese minimumweight belt in Tokyo last Saturday and had won virtually every round before he abruptly was taken out in the tenth and final stanza.

Kanemitsu looked less skillful, having blocked Tsuji’s fast combos with his badly swollen and cut face. Prior to the shocking end, it was a one-sided affair with Tsuji battering his opponent from the outset. Tsuji pummeled the slower Kanemitsu seemingly at will and piled up the points with a high punch volume as the fight progressed. However, in so doing, he used up his energy in throwing so many punches. Still, Kanemitsu appeared to have no chance to win going into the final round, but suddenly Tsuji seemed gassed at the end of the ninth and wobbled back to his corner. But he needed only to finish one more round to become champion as he was leading on the scorecards 89-83, 88-83 and 88-83.

However, the slick punching and speedy southpaw’s bid for the vacant belt recently vacated by the OPBF ruler Yasutaka Kuroki was not to be. He abruptly gave way in the tenth. The shocking and dramatic come-from-behind knockout came at 1:09 of the tenth and final round.

Tsuji was immediately rushed to the Jikei Medical University Hospital where he tragically passed away on Tuesday due to brain hemorrhage.

It was the very first ring death that happened in a title bout in Japan and left the Japanese boxing community, known for its high safety standards, in a state of horrific shock.

May his soul rest in peace

Article posted on 28.03.2009

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