Please note - This bout has not yet been shown on TV, there will be spoilers in the first paragraph below, and obviously the result will be given away in the article.
If you do not wish to know the result of the bout between Kenshiro and Saul Juarez, and instead wish to wait for the tape delay broadcast please stop reading.
Today fight fans at the Ota City General Gymnasium had a world title triple header, sadly however for those outside the venue one of the three bouts wasn't televised live anywhere. That bout was the WBC Light Flyweight title bout that pitted unbeaten champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) [拳四朗] against Mexican challenger Saul Juarez (24-9-2, 13).
The bout saw Kenshiro coming into the contest seeking his 5th defense of the title, and completing an excellent year which had seen him stopping both Ganigan Lopez and Milan Melindo. Juarez on the other hand was looking to claim a world title for the Juarez family, with his brother having fought several times for world titles previously, losing notably in Japan in two of those world title bouts.
Fans in the venue saw the champion take his time in the first round, but he establish himself early in round 2, using his movement, sharp punching and significant size to pick away at Juarez. The skills and speed of Kenshiro saw him establishing the early lead, with scores of 40-36 on two cards and 39-37 on the other when the scores were announced publicly for the first time. The scores, the tempo, the distance was all being dictated by Kenshiro, who controlling everything being his accurate, sharp jab and movement. Not only was Kenshiro dominating but also left Juarez with reddening on the side of his face very early on.
The control over the bout that Kenshiro had extended through the middle rounds, with the champion holding a lead of 79-73, twice, and 80-72, after 8 rounds. He was proving to be too good in every way for the Mexican challenger, who was game but being out landed, out powered, out boxed and out sped. Although it was Kenshiro's jab that was controlling the action he showed enough variation to his shots to try and break through the Mexican's defense and take him out, though Juarez showed enough resolve to make Kenshiro think twice about taking too many risks,
Sadly for those expecting to see Kenshiro get his third stoppage of the year Juarez's toughness stopped it from happening, though Kenshiro continued to completely control the bout, taking the last 4 rounds on all 3 scorecards to wins 120-108 and 119-119, twice. By that point Juarez looked beaten, battered and exhausted, but still tough and game and credit needs to bee given to the Mexican for sticking in there in the final rounds.
Given the bout was "off TV" the performance won't have had his reputation for being in fun fights, because it seems that the fans in the venue were expecting a little bit more from the champion. For Kenshiro's development however 12 rounds here won't have been a bad thing, given he's only done 13 rounds in his last 3 bouts. He would have wanted a stoppage, but such a clear win, and test of his stamina, will do no harm as he looks to unify titles in the new year.
For Juarez it's his second loss in world title bouts, and his family's wait for a world title continues.
Last year we saw Japan's Ken Shiro (13-0, 7) [拳 四朗] claim the WBC Light Flyweight title with a majority decision win over Mexican veteran Ganigan Lopez (34-8, 19). It was a hotly contested contest with Lopez having a fantastically strong final round and putting the Japanese fighter on to the retreat to hold on for the win.
Today the two men met in a rematch and the outcome couldn't have been much different.
The first round was a technical round, with both men looking to establish their jabs. There wasn't connecting from either man, with the only shots of note being a body shot by Lopez and a right hand from Ken Shiro. Neither man seemed to have any real luck with their jabs and the southpaw/orthodox stance of the two men seemed to see both men struggling to just get their distance right.
The second round also seemed like it was going to be a tactical affair, with both again looking to use their jab to measure the other man. Ken Shiro broke away from that when he feinted to with with his left before landing a brutal straight right hand to the midsection of the challenger half way through the round. The body landed perfectly and sent Lopez down in agony where he was counted out.
For Ken Shiro the win secures him his third defense of the title, his second straight inside the distance, and shows how much he has developed as the champion. As for Lopez it is only the second time he has been stopped in his 42 fight career.
Making his live terrestrial TV debut WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) [拳 四朗] knew he had a chance to shine earlier today, as he made his second defense and took on aggressive Panamanian challenger Gilberto Pedroza (18-4-2, 8). On paper it was an easy defense but with the pressure of a multi-million audience figure and the need to excite there was clearly a lot at play for the champion, who had already scored huge wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara this year.
The pressure to make sure he won was clear the opening round as he boxed cautiously behind his jab, and moved, stopping the wild and aggressive Pedroza from landing. The visitor had clearly come to win but spent much of the round hitting the air as the champion put on a show case of movement. That same tactic worked in round 2, though during the round the champion began to find his range and landed several uppercuts to the body.
The success Ken Shiro had in round 2 grew in round 3 as he began to hold his feet, look comfortable in there and began to try and look for opportunities to counter. Although it wasn't quite a masterclass it was beginning to look like Ken Shiro was starting to think about way to shine and landed several eye catching combinations.
Early in round 4, which was delayed due to grease on Pedroza's face, Ken Shiro landed a perfect counter right hand. The shot rocked Pedroza and opened the door for the champion to let his hands fly, which he did when Pedroza was on the ropes. The challenger tried to survive, holding the champion, but he couldn't keep the champion off him. A follow up attack, punctuated by a body shot, sunk Pedroza's knees and the shots kept flying until Pedroza was ruled down. The challenger looked like he had had enough but continued, for a few moments as Ken Shiro again jumped on his man and dropped him. This time it was enough for the referee to stop the bout.
Although unlikely to be included in the 2017 Fighter of the Year conversation the Japanese fighter has scored two wins over consensus top 10 divisional rivals, in Lopez and Guevara, and topped it off with a stay busy win to end the year. It's been a break out year for the youngster who seems to be constantly developing and with today's win will have built his profile significantly at home. The performance will have helped as will his personality which showed through in his post fight interviews shown on Fuji TV. There is still developing to do, but he did what he needed to and will be moving in to 2018 as one of the leading fighters at 108lbs.
With his TV debut a real success the question now is whether or not Fuji will continue to show case the babyfaced champion. There is a lot of very interesting contests out there for him, including rematches with Lopez or Guevara, a bout with WBO champion Angel Acosta or bouts with domestic rivals like Tetsuya Hisada and Ryuji Hara. For Pedroza however it's back to the Latino scene where he will have to hone his skills if he's to come again at this level.
Earlier this year we saw Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) over-come Ganigan Lopez to become the WBC Light Flyweight champion, taking the title with a razor thin decision. Today the unbeaten Japanese youngster returned to the rign to make his first defense of the title, in a match up against former champion Pedro Guevara (30-3-1, 17).
The bout, which wasn't televised, saw Guevara make a really good start and he was making the most of hs experience early on, to take a lead after 4 rounds, leading 40-36 and 39-37, twice, when the scores were publically announced. Ken Shiro had had moments during those early rounds, but it was clear that Guevara had the much better success.
Knowing he was behind Ken Shiro attempted to change the tempo of the bout, and pressed the action more, attacking the body and cutting the eye of Guevara as he looked to turn the fight around. The cut to Guevara seemed to change the fight and left the Mexican with a bloodied face.
By the time the scores were announced for a secpnd time the judging had changed notably. Rather than the judges allbeing in favour of Guevara they were now split, with one judge having the bout 78-74 to Guevara, one having Ken Shiro in the lead 77-75 and the third having it 76-76, meaning it was all to play for in the final 4 rounds.
The final 4 rounds saw both men really going for it, Ken Shiro to edge them, using a great body attack and making the most of his size and energy, but he got tagged several times by the swollen challenger. The action of Ken Shiro had been cheered loudly and was likely helping the Japanese fighter convince the judges he was doing so much more than the challenger. The cheers for the Japanese warrior seemed to spur him on, and he did enough to claim to claim a majority decision, with scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 114-114.
After the bout it was revealed that Ken Shiro's next defense will see him fight in a rematch against Lopez, giving the former champion an opportunity to reclaim the title that Ken Shiro took from him this past May.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Today was a huge day for Japanese boxing, and boxing at the Light Flyweight division with 4 world title fights taking place in Japan, and two of those being at 108lbs.
The first of those saw WBO champion Kosei Tanaka (9-0, 5) [田中恒成] retain his title with a solid win over mandatory challenger Angel Acosta (16-1, 16). Not long after that attention turned to Tokyo where there was a WBC Light Flyweight title bout between defending champion Ganigan Lopez (28-7, 17) and Japanese hopeful Ken Shiro (10-0, 5) [拳 四朗].
Going in to their bout the WBC title was the only belt not residing in Japan, as Akira Yaegashi holds the IBF title and Ryoichi Taguchi holds the WBA belt. At the end of the day however Ken Shiro would complete the set for Japan and move us one step closer to all an Japanese total unification bout.
The bout started really competitively, with Lopez using his experience and Ken Shiro using his youth, speed and hunger. The competitive action left them almost even after 4 rounds, with Ken Shiro leading 39-37 on two cards and being 38-38 on the third card.
Knowing he was behind Lopez picked up the pace in round 5 that was however countered by the Japanese challenger who turned the tide back in his favour in round 6, before Lopez himself bounced back.
After 8 rounds Ken Shiro had established a lead on all 3 cards, with all 3 reading 77-75 in favour of the challenger. He continued to extend that lead as he took round 9 and essentially put himself 3 up with 3 to play, victory was well within in his graps. It was however also within Lopez's and the Mexican hasn't had the career he's had by just rolling over in the later rounds.
Instead Lopez went on to grit his teeth and fight fire with fire, taking round 10 on two cards and round 11 on two, before claiming the final round, the best round of the fight, on all 3 cards. Sadly for the Mexican veteran his effort wasn't enough, with Ken Shiro eeking out a majority decision with scores of 115-113, twice, against a 114-114 draw card.
Immediately after being given the title Ken Shiro strapped it around his father's waist, as he had stated before the fight, and the relief on his face was clear.
Now with all 4 titles in Japan it seems like talk will begin to have unifications, for the new champion however it's likely he'll have a well deserved rest, and admire his ever growing collection of titles which include the Japanese, OPBF, WBC Youth and now WBC world titles.
For Lopez the loss will be a hard one to accept, but hopefully won't be the end of his career.
(Image courtesy of boxmob and boxingnews.jp)
World Title Results
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