Japan can be one of the best countries for boxing, with a huge number of outlets for fights, a very active scene across the country and some of the most exciting match ups we can see, both at world and domestic level. It can be very frustrating with television outlets not always being able to show the full show, and having so much delay footage. That issues reared it's head again today when TBS failed to broadcast the second defense of IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人], who had to get through some real adversity to over-come Filipino challenger Vince Paras (13-1, 11).
Despite the lack of TV coverage the bout was a cracking contest, with some early drama and the type of excitement that left fans in the arena clamouring to see both men back in action, not just their local champion.
In the build up to the bout Paras had come across as confident, like a man who had travelled with a purpose and wasn't worried about the powerful champion. He started the bout with a tight guard, looking for openings and opportunities to land his power left hook, with an opening in round 3 seeing him connect clean and dropping Kyoguchi. The knockdown was the first that the champion had suffered since turning professional and showed that Paras had the power to trouble the champion.
Kyoguchi bounced back the following round and was in the face of Paras with hard blows as the action heated up. The following round a clash of heads left Paras cut around the right eye and from then on it seemed like the Filipino began to a bit, whilst the champion began to build on his momentum, landing big combinations as we got further into the fight. Paras however showed his toughness and refused to go down.
The final round was a tough one for both fighters, with both men holding their feet and digging to the body. Though neither could put the other down.
In the end Kyoguchi, who showed impressive defense after the knockdown, ran out a clear winner on all 3 cards, taking the decision 117-110, but clearly was left knowing he had improvements to make.
After the bout Kyoguchi seemed to admit his legs were tired later in the fight and questions remain as to how much he is taking out of himself to make the 105lb limit, having had to drop a lot of weight yesterday. It also seems like the type of bout where both men will learn a lot, and fans in the crowd seemed impressed not only by the winner, but also the loser, who at 19 looks a real talent and will certainly come again.
One of the under-the-radar stories of 2017, from a Japanese perspective, has been that of Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) [京口 紘人]. The Watanabe youngster won the IBF Minimumweight title earlier this year, in a lacklustre bout against Jose Argumedo, having previously won the OPBF title even earlier in the year. Today he continued his rise as he became the first man to stop talented Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (30-3-1-1, 17) in an unexpectedly one-sided contest.
The bout, screened live on Canal 4 in Nicaragua, saw Buitrago starting well, applying his pressure and taking the fight to he challenger. Buitrago, to his credit, fought back but seemed unable to ever get Kyoguichi's respect with the champion closing the space the space between the two very easily. At close range Buitrago had some success, but lacked the power to do the damage that the champion was doing, as he began to chip away at the challenger with heavy hooks and uppercuts.
By round 4 Buitrago was clearly showing signs of slowing down, his eyes swelling and his output dropping whilst Kyoguchi was looking like a steam train, coming forward no matter what was being thrown in his direction. The pressure continued to tell and round by round Buitrago was becoming more and more negative, backing up on to the ropes and throwing “stay away” punches, rather than anything with serious intent.
By the end of round 6 it began to look like the referee was looking for a chance to stop the bout, but every time it seemed like he was going to Buitrago would have a spurt of action, throw back and make Kyoguchi momentarily back off. It wasn't that the challenger could ever hurt the champion, even clean right hands seemed to bounce off him, but it was enough to show life to the referee.
Sadly for Buitrago that fight just left him taking more punishment and in round 8, after several shots snapped his head back, the referee stepped in for the mercy stoppage. Buitrago was still throwing back at the time, but it was a stoppage that few would have complained with.
Having only debuted in April 2016 Kyoguchi's rise to champion has been incredible. This year he has gone 4-0 (2) claimed a regional and world title, defending both belts once, and has been one of the unheralded stars of 2017. He has answered questions regarding his chin, stamina and ability and in 2018 he's going to be a monster of a champion, who perhaps has his eyes on winning a title at 108lbs or unification.
For Buitrago the bout is a clear sign that he needs to give up fighting at Minmumweight. He had had persistent rumours about weight struggles coming in to the bout and now needs to move up and try to resurrect his career at Light Flyweight, before taking too many beatings like this.
Japanese prospects rising through the ranks quickly seems to be the thing at the moment, and there has been a string of super talented Japanese youngsters racing through the rankings and claiming world titles after just a handful of fights. The latest Japanese fighter to do just that was Minimumweight Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) [京口 紘人], who claimed the IBF Minimumweight title earlier today, dethroning Jose Argumedo (20-4-1, 12). The youngster may have had more fights than some of the other Japanese youngsters who have raced to titles, but he had been a professional for just 15 months leading into this bout.
The bout promised a lot. Both are aggressive fighters, both have power and both have been in some entertaining bouts so far. It seemed in the first round that we were set for something a bit special as the two men stayed close, and let their shots off, with both landing some pretty solid and eye catching shots. By the end of the round though it seemed like Argumedo, who had spoke about a war at the signing ceremony, had felt the power of Kyoguchi and didn't want to taste too much of it using a lot of movement to avoid a fire fight.
The movement of Argumedo's continued in round 2, with Kyoguchi struggling to pin his man down, though he did land some eye catching body shots. The movement seemed to frustrate Kyoguchi, but came at an expense in regards to the power Argumedo could land with himself. In round 3 Argumedo decided to change tactic again, looking to land bombs, that came with with the problem of missing and being countered. His solution to that was to smother Kyoguchi, which became a problem through much of the bout, with the action descending into a slop fest of holding, hugging, rabbit punches and leaning on each other.
Argumedo got back on the move in round 4, with Kyoguchi fighting conservatively. Although holding back the Japanese fighter landed a number of body shots, in an attempt to stop Argumedo from hitting and holding, and a huge right hand upstairs that that again showed the danger that he possess. Argumedo ended up trying to throw the kitchen sink at Kyoguchi, but the accuracy simply wasn't there.
Rounds 5 and 6 were nothing short of messy wrestling rounds, with the clean punches kept to a minimum. It was becoming hard to watch, and hard to score. Argumedo had success with his jab, and his right hand, occasionally, whilst Kyoguchi looked to land body shots. It seemed however that both were rushing their work, throwing out of range and generally boxing like idiots, rather than two world class fighters.
Despite the messy action it seemed like both did have the fire power to hurt the other, and that proved to be the case in round 7, when a head shot shoot up Argumedo, who was clearly hurt and lucky that the shot came so late in the round as he began to eat some very hard body shots, and finished the round with a cut on the nose. Frustratingly Kyoguchi failed to build on the previous round, and round 8 was another sloppy round, with Kyoguchi's frustrations boiling over as he pushed Argumedo over. The following round saw Kyoguchi finally have a break through, badly hurting Argumedo and then sending him down legitimately with a follow up to secure a big 10 round, and had the round been 30 seconds longer he may well have closed the show.
Having got his nose into the lead Kyoguchi seemed to let Argumedo off the hook, and round 10 saw both men swing wildly and miss repeatedly in a round that began to sum up just how poor the fight had been. Had either man connected we could have seen the fight turn into something brilliant, but it seemed like neither had the composure, that late on, to really set up their work.
In the final round the mess just got messier, with both being tired, losing their balance, and Kyoguchi going down 3 times, from a combination of tiredness, pushing and balance issues, in what was a very ugly finish to a fight that promised a lot but failed to deliver.
At the end of 12 rounds the scores cards were read out, 116-111, twice, and 115-112, all in favour of Kyoguchi who became the new champion.
The fight wasn't the best showing of Kyoguchi, or of Argumedo in fairness. They styles should have gelled, but they never did, and instead of a FOTY contender we ended up with a really forgettable mess that will be remembered for Kyoguchi claiming a world title, just 15 months after his debut. And very few will go back and watch this one a second time.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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