Earlier today the Watanabe gym held a press conference with Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平], to announce Kono's retirement at the age of 37.
The former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion last fought on May 19th, when he lost by TKO to Jason Moloney, and although still showing signs of his trademark aggression there was a clear decline in his energy and punch resistance in that bout, compared to what he had been a few years earlier.
The "Tough Boy" had been one of the longest active professionals in Japan, having debuted in 2000. Since the he has a remarkable career, full of thrilling fights and great memories, including his FOTY contenders with Liborio Solis and Rex Tso, his sensational win in the US over Koki Kameda, his upset win over Tepparith Kokietgym and his second title win, stopping Denkaosan Kaovichit.
Between September 2008, when Kono fought in his first world title fight against Nobuhiro Nashiro, and his final bout against Moloney he took on a bit of a who's who's who including not only the men mentioned already but also Tomas Rojas, Yota Sato, Luis Concepcion and Naoya Inoue, and consistently delivered action fights. Sadly however he would 4 of his last 5, and would be stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts.
It's worth noting that he played a key part in helping the Watanabe gym establish it's self as a leading gym in Japan, along with Takashi Uchiyama and Ryoichi Taguchi, who all held world titles together as the gym put it's self on the map and began to use those 3 fighters to attract the young talent that the gym is now building around, such as Hiroto Kyoguchi and Ginjiro Shigeoka.
Kono's retirement ceremony will take place on January 12th 2018 at the Korakuen Hall, with more details on his future plans expected to be released during that ceremony.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we had the chance to catch an Australian show thanks to FITE TV, who broadcast the show on a PPV basis. The card was an interesting one for us as it featured a number of notable Asian fighters.
The first of those was former world title challenger Richard Claveras (18-4-2, 15), who took on Andrew Moloney (17-0, 10) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Super Flyweight title. Claveras went out aggressively but the more technically skilled Moloney proved to be too smart and too quick on the whole, and even fought southpaw at one point as he racked up the rounds. The Filipino was always dangerous, and showed that by dropping Moloney in round 7, sadly though the Australian was pretty much able to avoid Claveras's power in the final 3 rounds to take home a clear and wide decision.
The second bout saw former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平] move up to Bantamweight to face off with unbeaten Australian prospect Jason Moloney (17-0, 14). Kono fought like he always does, looking to force a high tempo war, and to begin with Moloney tried to avoid a fire fight, using his better boxing skills to land at range. Both men landed some great though remarkable Kono was dropped by a jab in round 3. Kono suffered a cut in round 4 that worsened through the fight and in round 6 it was a mess, covering the ring and Moloney in claret. Kono managed to get past a doctor's inspection in round 6 but was stopped at the very start of the following round, with the cut ruled to have come from a punch.
With the win Moloney is thought to have secured his spot in the Bantamweight World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) whilst Kono will be expected to think hard and long about his future. This is only the second stoppage loss of Kono's careeer, but it does seem like he's looking his age now.
Before either Claveras or Kono fought there was also a loss for Korean fighter Dong Young Kang (3-5-2), who was dropped in round 2 before losing a decision to Tim Hateley (4-4-1)
Japan's popular former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-11-1, 14) [河野 公平] will be back in action this coming Saturday when he takes on unbeaten Australian prospect Jason Moloney (16-0, 13) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Bantamweight title. The bout will be Kono's first since a controversial technical decisiuon loss to Rex Tso in Hong Kong last October, and will see the "Tough Boy" look to turn around his struggling form, which has seen him score 1 win in his last 4 bouts. On the other hand Moloney will be looking to record his first win over a former world champion and establish himself as a legitimate contender in the talent laden Bantamweight division.
Coming in to this bout the Australian is the champion, the unbeaten man, the younger fighter and the guy fighting at home. Given all those things it will be little surprise to see him as the betting favourite, with the bookmakers in the UK pricing him at 2/9 to pick up the win against the Japanese veteran and extend his unbeaten record. It's short odds, given he's stepping up quite significantly from the likes of Immanuel Naidjala, Julias Kisarawe and Lolito Sonsona but it's clearly a step up his team feel he's comfortable with and ready for.
The Japanese veteran is priced at 9/2 to score the shock win and give his career another shot in the arm at the age of 37. Despite being seen as beyond his best it is worth noting that Kono has regularly scored surprise wins, including his 2012 win over Tepparith Kokietgym for the WBA Super Flyweight, his 2014 win over Denkaosan Kaovichit and his 2015 win over Koki Kameda. Many though Kono's career was coming to an end back in 2011, when he suffered a third straight loss and came up short to a then novice Yohei Tobe. Despite all of that a fighter can only pull off so many surprises and we may have already had all of Kono's shock wins.
As for the draw that is best priced at 22/1 at the moment, with many bookies pricing it at 20/1
This coming weekend fight fans will be able to see former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-11-1, 14) [河野 公平] battle against unbeaten Australian prospect Jason Moloney (16-0, 13).
Today Kono set off from Japan with his trainer for the bout, and looked in good spirits ahead of what is essentially a must win contest for the Watanabe Gym fighter.
Kono is 1-1 outside of Japan and last fought in October 2017 when he lost a technical decision in Hong Kong to local star Rex Tso (22-0, 13) [曹星如]. There had been talk of a rematch but Tso hasn't been in a rush to return to the ring, and it looks like he could be out until the end of this year. With that being known by Kono and his team it appears they weren't willing to continue waiting around, and have taken this bout instead.
The fighter seemed relaxed and confident, but beating Moloney will be a big ask. IF he can defeat the Australian prospect Kono will remain relevant in the world scene, though many are expecting him suffer his 4th loss in 5 fights.
For fans wanting to watch this bout, and the card in general, it will be available ona PPV basis from Fite TV.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-11-1, 14) [河野 公平] has been out of the ring since losing an all action bout against Hong Kong star Rex Tso (22-0, 13) [曹星如] last October, with Tso taking a 7th round technical decision win over Kono. Despite the long break from the ring Kono has been staying involved in boxing, with recent blog posts talking not only about renewing his license last month but also his recent sparring, and the fact that his weight was 56.6KG, or 124.75lbs.
It appears that that gym work was for a reason with Kono now set for his ring return on May 19th, as he travels to Australia to take on unbeaten Australian prospect Jason Moloney (16-0, 13) in a bout for Moloney's WBA Oceania Bantamweight title, which he won last October against Julias Kisarawe.
For Kono the bout will be his first title fight at Bantamweight. He has flirted with the division in the past, fighting a number of bouts there between 2004 and 2006, as well one off bouts here and there since, but is clearly a career Super Flyweight having claimed the Japanese title there, OPBF title twice, the WBA title twice and lost in bouts for the WBA, WBC and WBO titles.
At the age of 37 Kono might see this move up in weight as a chance to give him that little bit of extra spring in his step for one final run, before closing out a career which has really been something a bit special. Kono was talking about retirement way back in 2012, prior to his first world title win which came as a shock against Tepparith Kokietgym. For him to have remained a relevant force on the world scene for years after that is a real testament to his desire and hunger to be a world class fighter.
Aged 27 Moloney is a decade younger than Kono and is regarded by many in Australia as one of the countrie's biggest and brightest prospects. He looked sensational earlier this year, when he stopped Immanuel Naidjala inside 3 rounds and has looked really promising so far. This is however a clear step up in class and will see the Australian really being pushed hard by a man who will, potentially, be fighting for his career once again.
Coming in to this bout Jason Moloney holds world rankings with the IBF, WBA and WBO and could see this bout as his final test before his promoter pushes him towards a world title fight in the dangerous and stacked Bantamweight division.
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