Later this month we'll see former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔] battle against Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24), aka Wicha Phulaikhao in China.
Today, ahead of that bout, Kimura took part in a public work out.
The work out saw saw Kimura hitting the mitts with his trainer and show a real heaviness to his punches. There seemed to be real spite in what Kimura threw and a new found compactness to his work, something that is different to what we have come to see from the popular fighter form the Aoki gym. Interestingly he will be wearing tailor made Adidas gloves for the bout.
Kimura sounded confident of stopping Pigmy, something we all seem to expect and after today's work out it seemed a case of "when" not "if" that stoppage would come.
Also, a rather interesting note for Japanese fans, Kimura will be commentating on the upcoming bout between Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] and Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], though that will only be for Japanese fans watching the TV broadcast, not those watching on the international feed.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Lats month we reported that former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔] was planning to return to the ring in Spring in China. We have bow seen the OPBF confirmed that news, and also confirm the opponent and title status of the bout.
The OPBF revealed that the exciting Japanese fighter, who is hugely popular in China following his 2017 upset win over Zou Shiming, will be battling for the OPBF Silver Flyweight on March 30th in Shanghai. His opponent will be Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24), aka Wicha Phulaikhao, a 37 year old who has been around the block a few times.
For Kimura the bout will be his first since losing the WBO Flyweight title to Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] in September. His career was in doubt following that loss, but recently announced that he would be returning, and if we're honest few will complain about him having an easier bout. It's also worth noting that this will be his third bout on the Chinese mainland, and he's also fought once in Hong Kong.
For Pigmy this will be his first contest in almost a year, last being seen losing in 6 rounds to Masahiro Sakamoto last April. He's been a professional since 1999 and has twice fought for world titles, losing in both of those world title bouts.
It's a disappointing bout if you're a Kimura fan, but an understandable one, an easy comeback contest for the former world champion.
Interestingly this bout will take place on the same show as a number of Japan Vs China bouts, including the very interesting Flyweight contest between Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) [山内涼太] and Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5)
Last year we saw Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔] lose the WBO Flyweight title in an amazing fight with Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成]. Following that bout Kimura seemed to hint at a possible retirement, before changing his mind and getting back to training. Despite being in training however there was no official confirmation as to whether he would be fighting again or not.
Today the former champion held a notable press conference, at the JBC headquarters in Tokyo, to announce some details about his future, and confirm that he would indeed be continuing his career.
Not too many specific details were shared today, but Kimura revealed that he is planning his return for Spring and it's likely that the plan is to return to China, where he won the title in 2017. He revealed that it took around 2 months from the date of the loss before he had decided to continue to fight, and seemed to realise that despite the loss his support and value in the sport had actually risen as a result of the loss.
We have to remember that in the eyes of many it was a a good loss, it was a bout that was widely regarded as the fight of the year and saw Kimura not only build his fan base in the west but also solidify his domestic and regional fan bases.
Masayuki Ariyoshi, the president of the Aoki Gym, revealed that the plan is to fight at the end of March in the Chinese mainland. The suggestion was that the bout wouldnn't be a world title bout, no real surprise given the current state of the Flyweight division, but there was some suggestion that it could be a regional title bout.
At today's press Kimura revealed "I do not understand Chinese, but I was surprised at how many voices Hiroshi was translating and saying" I want you to challenge again "and" Do not give up. "Until now I thought it was over if I lost the belt, If you play a game that you can lose, your fans will not leave. The values have changed." [Translated]
We'd expect more details of Kimura's return to be revealed in the coming weeks, when the opponent, date and venue are all confirmed.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Over the last couple of hours we have looked at some individual award winners at today's Japanese boxing awards, held in the amazing Tokyo Dome Hotel. For those who just want to see the winners in a list here we go:
The MVP was:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥]
The Skills Award was won by:
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成]
The KO Award was won by:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥]
Special Award was won by:
Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪]
The Effort Award was won by:
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義]
The Newcomer Award was won by:
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登]
The Best World title Fight:
Sho Kimura [木村翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成]
The Best Japanese Domestic fight:
Yusaku Kuga [久我勇作] Vs Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾]
Female fighter of the year was:
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ]
Female Fight of the Year was:
Kayoko Ebata [江畑佳代子] Vs Etsuko Tada [多田悦子]
Trainer of the Year was:
Shingo Inoue [井上真吾]
A Special Achievement Award was won by:
Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介]
Special Prizes were given to:
Toshiyuki Igarashi [五十嵐 俊幸]
Naoko Shibata [柴田 直子]
Nana Yoshikawa [好川 菜々]
Ryuya Yamanaka [山中 竜也]
And Momo Koseki [小関 桃]
A social Contribution prize was given too:
Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子]
JBC Service Achievements were won by
Akira Tabata, who has served as a timekeeper, and Hiroyuki Tokuzaki, a referee who sadly passed away in October.
Several other officials earned awards for their roles in the sport as well, as did Atsushi Sato, a producer at WOWOW.
It's also worth noting that every male fighter who held a world title at some point during the year won an Outstanding Fighter Award, this is a normal thing to recognise all champions. We won't list them all here though they obviously included Kenshiro [拳四朗] and Hiroto Kyoguchi [京口 紘人] among others.
As for amateur awards, the best male fighter was:
Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介]
and the best female fighter was:
Tsukimi Namiki [並木月海]
(Image courtesy of Boxingnews.jp)
Last year we had the honour of being the streaming partner, in association with CBC, for the WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] and Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔].
Today that very bout has been announced as the Best Fight at the Japanese boxing awards, which were held at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
The bout was an incredible 12 round battle that gained international respect for the none-stop action and the fantastic skills, toughness and heart of both men. It was none-stop action and proved to be something that put both men on the map internationally.
Today the two fighters posed happily with each other for photographs, explained that a friendship had grown and looked like men with real respect for each other whilst being honoured for their incredible bout.
We know that Tanaka will return to the ring next month, to defend the title he took from Kimura against former IBF and WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一]. As for Kimura he revealed that he would be returning in Spring, with details to be released shortly.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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