On July 27th we'll see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) [木村翔] defending his belt against Filipino challenger Froilan Saludar (28-2-1, 19), with the bout taking place in China.
Despite the bout being known about for a while it hadn't actually had a press conference in Japan to announce it, something that tends to happen weeks before the contest. That however changed today when the Aoki gym held a press event in Tokyo to announce the bout, talk about how life has changed for Kimura, and talk about the future.
The champion spoke about how much life has changed since winning his title a year ago. He has gone from being an unknown, living in relative poverty, to having moved to a new apartment and has managed to focus on boxing. It certainly seems like Kimura has made the most of his opportunity and will not be looking to hand over the title to the once touted Saludar.
The bout has apparently been made due to options that the Chinese promoter had on Kimura, with the original plan being to have him fight Zou Shiming in a rematch. Those plans were scuppered due to Shiming suffered from serious sight issues but they still prevented the much anticipated match up between Kimura and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) [田中恒成], who will be the mandatory for the winner and will likely look to organise that bout for late December.
Kimura spoke about being aware of what Saludar brings to the table, but feels like his own stamina will be the key and that he will come on strong in the second half of the fight. He seems to have scouted the challenger and know what he brings to the table, something that he could have gained extra insight by watching Saludar's fight with Takuma Inoue in Japan, a bout that saw Saludar being dropped late in the bout.
Sadly the bout doesn't appear to be set for any Japanese TV coverage, a real shame given the great story of Kimura's win last time he fought in China, though it will be televised on CCTV5 in China, and streams will likely be available for those wanting to watch the bout.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Barnes had eyed up Shiming, a former amateur rival who twice beat Barnes in Olympic semi-finals, from early in his professional career, but Shiming's loss to Kimura essentially scuppered that bout. It hasn't however dampened Barnes's wish to win a world title, and it seems he has now decided to chase the conqueror of his former amateur nemesis.
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.
Earlier this year we saw Chinese star Zou Shiming (9-2, 2) [邹市明] lose the WBO Flyweight title, suffering a shock loss to Japan's Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 8) [木村翔]. Earlier today saw the news that things have gotten a lot worse for Shiming, wih the fight being taken to the doctors in regards to an issue with his sight.
The reports suggest that Shiming is complaining of a sudden issue with blindness, and can't currently see properly. The issue is that bad that he and his wife, Ran Yingying, have spent a significant time with medical professionals and it now appears that Shiming is suffering from a detached retina.
Ran Yingying revealed through her social media that the day had been the worst for her, as she revealed her husband's situation. She spoke about the fact that some problems have arise in regards to Shiming's health and there is said to be serious worries about the fighter suffering permanent blindness.
As of December 22nd Shiming is said to still be in hospital and under-going tests to try and fully diagnose the seriousness of the issue which is currently effecting his sight.
(Image courtesy of http://news.sina.com.cn)
It's been a long and frustrating year for fight fans who follow 3-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔].
He began the year on the high of a great fight with Stamp Kiatniwat, who he stopped on December 31st 2016. Going into the New Year he looked like the de facto #1 Flyweight, and a man who looked set to have big fights. In April he went on to end the long winning run of Noknoi Sitthiprasert [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] and their was serious talk about travelling to China to challenge the then WBO champion Zou Shiming [邹市明], in what would have been a huge fight for Asian boxing.
Whilst all looked good for Ioka in the world of boxing issues were arising outside of the ring as his father, Kazunori Ioka - pictured, critcised Ioka for his relationship with pop singer Nana Tanimura. Later in the year Ioka and Tanimura got married. The fighter would begin to show frustration with the relationship with his father, and promter, who seemed to be continually promising big fights, but not delivering on them.
Shiming would later lose the WBO title to the little known Sho Kimura [木村翔] and it seemed as if the loss of the title by Shiming was another issue that had frustrated Ioka,as he saw a massive fight fall through as a result of Shiming's defeat.
With tensions in the Ioka camp rising we began to see rumours emerge from Osaka in September suggesting that Kazuto Ioka, one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing, was set to vacate the WBA Flyweight title, and potentially retire. That was happening whilst the WBA were ordering Ioka to takeon Ukrainian Artem Dalakian (15-0, 11) in a mandatory title defense.
In October it seemed like a deal was done, and Dalakian's promoter reported that a bout between their man and Ioka had been agreed for December 31st in Osaka. That however doesn't seem like it was ever actually agreed, and today Kazunori Ioka held a press conference, announcing that Kazuto had vacated the WBA title, citing a lack of preparation time.
At today's press conference Kazunori Ioka stated that his son had taken some personal time after the marriage in May. He saw Kazuto abouit 6 weeks ago and stated that as a parent and as a gym chairman he was decided that Kazuto wasn't going to be fit to fight. That extend as far as stating that Kazuto's future as a boxer is in oubt and that it down to Kazuto to decide whether or not he has the motivation to return or will be retiring, and if he choses to retire they will do a proper retirement ceremony for him.
Interestingly it was also revealed that Kazuto has moved to Tokyo, perhaps further distancing himself from his father. According to Kazunori his son would need 3 months to get into fighting shape.
Notably today's press conference was the first one form Japan to officially give any indication about the end of year bouts that will be taking place in the country. It confirms that Ioka will not be in action on December 31st, ending a run that began way back in 2011, and although other bouts are said to have been made it does leave the end of year run for Japanese boxing looking very different to recent years, which also featured former WBA Super Featherweight world champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志].
The Flyweight scene, which has really been put on notice by the rise of Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) [比嘉 大吾], is obvious set for a big shake up and it seems likely that Dalakian will now have to face Thai Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (47-3, 32) [ยอดมงคล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] for the vacant title in the new year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier this year Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 8) [木村翔] shocked the boxing worldas he scored a stoppage of Chinese star Zou Shiming (9-2, 2) [邹市明] and claimed the WBO Flyweight title.
Earlier this week the WBO denied Shiming's request for an immediate rematch with Kimura, and today ordered the champion to begin negotiations for a mandatory title defense against fellow Japanese fighter Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3 12) [五十嵐 俊幸], himself a former WBC Flyweight champion.
At the moment the two sides haven't come close to a deal, though both have made it clear that they will look to make one as quickly as they can, with both fighters already in good condition and ready to begin their camps.
Whilst Kimura's career has really taken off in recent times, especially with his big win for the title back in July, Igarashi's career has been a bit frustrating. That frustration certainly peaked after his last bout, which saw the Teiken man left with a serious injury, and a technical draw, following a nasty head clash with Miguel Cartagena. It appears those injuries have healed but but the Caragena bout has been his only contest in 12 months, and he has fought just 20 rounds in the last 24 months.
The fight is expected to be sorted shortly, and could well take place before the end of 2017.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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