Fighting with one eye swollen shut and a bad cut over the other eye, Masayuki Kuroda did everything in his power to try and win the IBF flyweight title, but it was Moruti Mthalane who came out on top.
After weathering an early storm of jabs and left body hooks, Mthalane outboxed and powered through the second half of the fight to retain his world title by unanimous decision. Mthalane won the fight, taking place in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall, with scores of 116-112, 116-112, 117-111.
The first few rounds saw Kuroda land crisp, sharp jabs to Mthalane, who did not really have much of an answer for them, as well as the occasional body shot. Kuroda looked to be in control of the fight for the first four rounds, but Mthalane started to work his way to the inside and uppercut his way to victory. Mthalane landed numerous combinations that did serious damage to Kuroda's face later on in the bout.
As the fight got to the middle rounds, Mthalane would win numerous exchanges and land harder punches as Kuroda's right eye started to see some swelling. Mthalane, in control of the fight, was the aggressor and pushed Kuroda back in the second half of the title bout. But as Kuroda's back was up against the wall in the last three rounds, he stood in the middle of the ring for large portions and attempted to trade with the fresher Mthalane. Kuroda found some success in the final stages of the fight, but it was not enough to win on the scorecards.
This was Kuroda's second attempt at a world title after coming up short in in 2013 against Juan Carlos Reveco with the WBA flyweight title on the line. After that loss, Kuroda wouldn't find consistent success in the ring until 2017 when he he won the Japanese national flyweight title and scored six straight victories before facing Mthalane.
Mthalane has now defended his world title twice since winning the belt back in July 2018 when he defeated Muhammad Waseem. Before the fight against Kuroda, Mthalane defended his title on December 31 by beating Masahiro Sakamoto with a 10th-round stoppage win.