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.
Earlier today the boxing world turned it's attention to Yokohama for the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), which featured a notable non-WBSS title bout. That was the opening bout of the broadcast, and fans saw WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (14-0, 8) [拳四朗] put together a career best performance as he picked apart Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (37-4, 13). Becoming the first man to stop the Pinoy veteran and cementing his place as one of Japan's top fighters, doing so in front of a global audience.
The opening couple of rounds were moderately competitive as the two men tried to figure out their range and timing whilst having the battle of jabs. The speed of Kenshiro seemed to be the difference, but Melindo certainly had moments, including landing some solid body jabs in the opening round and a good right hand in round 2. He was however out landed, out sped and out moved for much of the opening two rounds.
In round 3 Kenshiro began to up the pace, finding more space and landing his jab with ease, following it up with the occasional right hand as he began to really strengthen his control of the bout.
The champion moved up a gear in round 4 and really began to give the challenger a pounding, finding a home for his body shots, and using his feet to make Melindo clumsy whilst landing jabs, rights hands and and even the occasional left hook. It looked like Melindo was being chipped away at with Kenshiro just putting on the boosters. Melindo's suffering would worsen in round 5 as Kenshiro picked up the action, landing more and more frequently with the right hand. The shots weren't KO quality shots, but they were the stinging type of shots that do damage, and the damage was showing on Melindo's nose after round 5.
Melindo's face became more damaged in round 6 as Kenshiro began to put more and more combinations together and really unloaded on to the head and body of Melindo, who had no answer at all. The shots left Melindo cut around the left eye and with a clear mouse under the right eye, worsening his fortunes. The Filipino looked like a mentally defeated man, and every moment of success he had was neutralised instantly with Kenshiro hurting him in return.
It looked like the champion really wanted to become the first man to stop Melindo as we entered round 7. Melindo began to back up more and give Kenshiro the chance too catch him on the ropes, which he did in eye catching and spectacular fashion, wobbling the Filipino several times before the action was halted. The cut on Melindo's eye had worsened and the referee took him over to the doctor who stopped the bout, saving Melindo from further punishment.
With this win Kenshiro has now recorded 4 defenses of the title, with the last 3 coming by stoppage. With wins over Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara and now Melindo he has a solid claim to being the #1 man at 108lbs.
For Melindo the beating was a bad one. It may not send him into retirement, but probably shows he's got too many miles on the clock to become a 2-time champion.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.