On July 28, in Qingdao, Sho Kimura returns to the ring for the first time in 2018, to defend his World championship against Filipino challenger, Froilan Saludar.
Sho Kimura (16-1 / 9 KOs) started his boxing career at 25, later than most fighters do. Despite suffering a KO loss in his debut, he quickly bounced back, earning 11 wins and 2 draws within 3 years. In 2016 he faced undefeated Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0*) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. After 12 rounds of back and forth action, Kimura got the majority decision and the gold.
However, his real test came in last year’s July, when he challenged Shiming Zou for the WBO World Flyweight championship. Zou, with a record of 9-1 at the time, was a 3-time World Amateur champion and a 2-time Olympic champion, with victories over the likes of future WBC Silver Bantamweight title holder Nordine Oubaali and WBO Intercontinental & European flyweight champion Paddy Barnes. Kimura was coming in as the underdog and was even fighting the champion in his own country. On paper, Zou was going to walk through the Japanese contender, as he had already bested much more experienced fighters as a pro, like Luis de la Rosa (23-3*), Prasitsak Phaprom (28-0*) and Prasitsak Phaprom (40-1*). In a shocking turn of events, Kimura dominated the match in every single round while going for the kill in the 11th, as he blasted Zou with a plethora of body shots and when the Chinese was at his weakest, he nailed him in the head 20 consecutive times to get the TKO win and to finally become the World champion.
Kimura made his triumphant return to Japan, on December of 2017, defending against the former WBC, The Ring and Lineal Flyweight World champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2*) at Ota-City General Gymnasium. Once again, he was facing a great amateur boxer (77-18) and just like Zou, a well-versed rival, who already owned wins over strong boxers like Wilbert Uicab (33-5*), former World champion Sonny Boy Jaro (34-10*) and Nestor Daniel Narvaes (19-0*). Kimura, much like his previous bout, surprised the crowd with his physical prowess and technique, outclassing Igarashi. The fight picked up in the 8th round where both men were swinging for the fences, bringing the fans on their feet. Kimura delivered a vicious combination during the 9th that stunned Igarashi and rendered him unable to respond, leaving no option for the referee but to stop the match.
His next challenge will bring him back to the same place that he originally became famous, as he takes on Filippino prospect Froilan Saludar (28-2 / 19 KOs) later this month. Compared to his last 2 fights, this one is definitely an easier task but Saludar is not to be taken lightly, as himself has won numerous championships, including the WBO Asia Pacific Youth, Oriental and Intercontinental Flyweight titles.
Prediction: It’s almost guaranteed that Kimura will come out the winner of this fight, which, in my guess, will serve as a tune up for his inevitable collision with 2 division World champion Kosei Tanaka (11-0), probably later this year.
*The boxer’s record before the fight.