Kimura won the title last year by narrowly out pointing Kenichi Horikawa. In his title win he had looked a little bit fortunate though since then he has improved and shown world class traits in his last two bouts. Despite the improvements he had made no one would have expected him to stop Yamaguchi, after all Kimura hadn't scored a stoppage win since taking out Takuro Habu back in January 2013.
Despite not being viewed as a puncher Kimura knew he had to make a statement. He had openly spoken about getting a WBA world title fight later in the year with Ryoichi Taguchi and knew that he needed to look good here. Looking good is exactly what he did.
From the off Kimura looked sharp and hitting home with his 1-2's almost at will. Those shots took their toll on Yamaguchi who was swollen and bloodied in the first 5 rounds. The success of the champion wasn't just damaging the face of the challenger but also the challengers hopes and after 5 rounds the open scoring was all in favour of Kimura, with all 3 judges having the bout 49-46 to the champion.
In round 6 Yamaguchi's hopes took another hit as he suffered another cut. That was the start of the end and in round 8 a Kimura attack finally forced the referee to save the challenger who was beginning to take a beating from the accurate and skillful Kimura.
Although Yamguchi wasn't the toughest challenger for Kimura that shouldn't take away from a sensational performance from the champion who now looks set to fight Taguchi, if Taguchi is successful on May 6th against Kwanthai Sithmorseng.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)