At the start of 2017 only a small handful of fight fans outside of Japan would have known who Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) [木村翔] was. By the end of the year however he was a revelation. He went 3-0 (3) for the year, claimed the WBO Flyweight title and made his first defense of the belt.
Not only did he win and defend the WBO crown but he did so against Olympians. Stopping 3 time Olympic medal winner Zou Shiming in 11 rounds to win the title in China and then stopping 2004 Japanese Olympian Toshiyuki Igarashi to defend the title on New Year's Eve. Now it appear that he could be set for a bout with a third success Olympian.
That's because Irishman, and 2-time Olympic bronze medal winner, Paddy Barnes (5-0, 1) has called out the world champion in a friendly challenge on twitter.
At the moment Kimura hasn't got any mandatory obligations and is free to negotiate his next fight with any WBO ranked fight. The popular view seems to be that Kimura will pursue a bout with countryman Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成], who is seeking a third weight world title, but Barnes does give the champion an alternative, and a chance to face a third straight Olympian. It could be a very compelling option if Tanaka's team can't provide a worthwhile offer for the champion, who is expected to make his ring return in late Spring or early Summer.