The Light Flyweight division is one of the most interesting right now and today we saw interesting changing of the guard as the WBA Light Flyweight "Super" title was ripped from the hands of South African Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10) by Japanese sensation Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人], who became the first man to score a stoppage over Budler.
From the opening round Kyoguchi pressured the champion. That pressure wasn't successful early on, with Budler countering well, and making Kyoguchi pay for his technical mistakes. It was however pressure that began to pay off as early as round 2, when Kyoguchi began to land on the body of the champion with regularity. That regularity seemed to take a toll on, even if Budler was himself landing plenty of solid blows of his own.
In round 3 Kyoguchi continued to find the body of Budler, and also found success with more and more headshots, Budler seemed to have felt the power of Kyoguchi and was less willing to take risks, but used his speed, reach and footwork well to fight at range, a range heeded to be out. Sadly for Budler round 4 was his last with any notable success, as he seemed to grit his teeth, sadly the body shots seemed to take away some of his movement and he was being given more and more punishment, being stung notably in the later stages of round 5. From then on it was essentially more and more dominant from Kyoguchi.
The shots from Budler sounded like they were slapping blows, rather than real punches, whilst Kyoguchi was digging in his shots, really trying to hurt the champion. Something he did visibly in round 7, to both head and body. The consistency of Kyoguchi's work seemed to be slowly beating the fight out of Budler who was taking an increasing amount of head shots as the bout went on, especially uppercuts to the head. Budler's legs were still their but they were no longer getting him out of danger.
By the end of round 9 it seemed less a case of whether Kyoguchi would win, and more a question of whether he would stop Budler, who had been beaten up, battered and taken a lot of punishment. That question was answered at the end of round 10, a round that had seen Budler really dig into his reserve of toughness. That toughness was too much, and he was pulled from the bout between rounds 10 and 11, with his corner deciding enough was enough.
Despite a competitive start Budler began to look like an old fighter by the middle rounds, a combination of the body shots from Kyoguchi and his long career. When that happened Kyoguchi just broke his man, round by round.
For Kyoguchi this wasn't an amazing performance, it was a solid one though, but it was a fantastic result as he became the first man to stop the South African veteran, and a 2-weight world champion in just 12 bouts! A potential unification fight with Kenshiro looks on the cards and would be a massive fight for Japanese boxing. This also saw him gain revenge for stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi, from whom Budler took the title from earlier this year.
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.
The Light Flyweight delivered another action packed bout earlier today as Filipino Randy Petalcorin (29-3-1, 22) battled against heavy handed Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30) in a bout for the vacant IBF Light Flyweight title, which had been given up by Hekkie Budler earlier this year. On paper the bout matched one of the best pure boxers in the division against one of the most destructive in a bout that really looked fantastic on paper.
For fans of Alvarado they would have known exactly what to expect from the Nicaraguan, and he fought true to form, bringing his trademark intense pressure. In the opening moments Petalcorin coped with it well, moving around the ring and fighting smart with sharp counter shots, but couldn't force Alvarado backwards or really get his respect.
The second round saw Alvarado pick up the pace, and really take the fight to the Filipino who failed to ever create space in a round that instead saw him being pinned against the ropes. It was a huge show of confidence from the Nicaraguan who looked like a monster. Petalcorin managed to have a better round 3, as he created some space, but was again on the back foot and forced to take some big shots from the Nicaraguan. To his credit Petalcorin landed some tasty counters, creating a welt under the right eye of Alvarado, but he was never able to get Alvarado's respect.
Round 4 saw more pressure from Alvarado as he continued to hunt his man, though his success was limited at times as he began to look sluggish, with the intensity dropping. The lower intensity allowed Petalcorin to have some moments in round 5, especially early on, but he was on the receiving end at the end of the round as Alvarado's pressure began to ramp up. That pressure continued to get more intense from Alvarado in round 6 as he began to really dig heavy body shots into the local favourite. Petalcorin rode a lot of shots well, and even landed some of his own clean counters, but it was clear that the damage was accumulating on the Filipino, who was being forced to take some massive body shots.
In round 7 Alvarado's pressure finally broke through as he dropped Petalcorin in the corner. The Filipino gritted it out and got back to his feet but was dropped again not long afterwards. He looked spent but got to his feet again and fought fire with fire, trading blows with Alvarado. In the trading sequences Petalcorin landed a huge head shot, but was taken apart by body shots, and was dropped again. This time the bout was stopped.
After coming up short to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco this was third time lucky for Alvarado, who looks like he will be very hard to dethrone, though would make for brilliant fights with Angel Acosta or Hiroto Kyoguchi. For Petalcorin he's young enough to bounce back, but his performance here saw him really struggle with the pressure, and he will have to pick a smart route to a title if he's to go all the way.
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.
We love to see fighters chasing history, and records. Sadly this morning history wasn't to be made as China's Lu Bin (1-1, 1) [呂斌] failed in his attempt to claim the WBA Light Flyweight title, as he took on hard hitting champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) and came up short, despite an impressive performance.
The opening round saw both men come out swinging, and looking to land big shots. The stances of the two men, with Bin being a southpaw and Canizales being orthodox, seemed to cause both men issues connecting in the first 3 minutes. The second round saw both men having more success, with both finding spaces for their power shots, and landing them. Neither man seemed hurt at any point but it was clear that Bin had the more technically correct foot work whilst Canizales looked like the more aggressive fighter with the more damaging power.
The two continued to trade shots in round 3, but by then it was clear that Canizales was the stronger more physical fighter and he was able to back up Bin with ease. His pressure seemed to give Bin fits and despite Bin landing some solid left hands to the body he was taking significantly more shots than he was landing himself.
Canizales would continue to build momentum through rounds 4, 5 and 6 as his pressure was doing damage round after round. Bin was competitive but out muscled by Canizales who seemed to cut the ring off very easily, and find a home for both his straight right hand, his ramrod jab and his left hook. The success of the champion was only really slowed in round 7 as Bin began to use some excellent lateral moment, as he out boxed Canizales and then forced the champion onto the back foot. The same tactics were used by Bin in round 8 and for the first 2 minutes Bin looked in the ascendency. Sadly a hard right hand from Canizales hurt Bin who seemed to have his confidence broken by the shot and went into survival mode for what remained of the round.
The power of Canizales them seemed more potent in every subsequent round. He badly hurt Bin in round 10, dropped him in round 11, with Bin using the ropes to keep himself up right, and continued to pile on the pressure. Sadly for Bin he was looking like a beaten man going into the final round and Canizales seemed determined to chase the stoppage, dropping Bin with a series of hard right hand with only seconds of the bout left. Bin got to his feet but the referee had seen enough, with a second of the bout remaining the bout was stopped.
Bin chased history and was forced to pay as he felt the power from Canizales over, and over, and over. The bout will act as a learning experience for the former amateur standout, though it may come at a serious cost as this ended up being a damaging and painful defeat. For Canizales the win was a great opportunity to raise his profile to a world wide audience, and he will he gained a lot of new fans, who may not have seen his title winning performance against Reiya Konishi earlier this year.
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.
Last year was a huge one for Japanese boxing, with fighters like Hiroto Kyoguchi and Daigo Higa bursting into the world scene, and there was a great string of results for the county which ended the year as one of the dominant forces in global boxing. The year's final show saw Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] defeat Milan Melindo to unify the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles. Today, almost 6 months later, Taguchi returned to the ring to try and make his first defense, taking on former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10).
Budler, who had actually lost to Melindo last year in an IBF title fight, started this fight like a man possessed and quickly took the fight to Taguchi. The Japanese fighter tried to respond but often seemed to slower fighter and was about half a step behind the busier, more aggressive and eye catching Budler. The South African kept up the intense pressure through the first half of the fight, badly hurting Taguchi in round 4 and bursting his nose in what was a really strong round for the challenger.
Budler's success came from getting inside on Taguchi and working the combinations, with Taguchi struggling to return fire. The movement of Budler was fantastic as he ducked out out of the way of headshots and turned Taguchi, giving him angles that the champion simply couldn't respond to. Taguchi tried, and battled through the bloodied nose, but really struggled to match the out put and success of the challenger.
By the mid-way point it seemed like Taguchi was going to need something very special to turn the fight around and he wasn't really looking like he was able to do it. He was having success with big single body shots, but wasn't really able to follow that up.
The second half of the fight saw the pace slow down, and this helped Taguchi, who managed to hurt Budler in round 9, and leave the challenger with a bloodied nose. It was the first clrar round for Taguchi in some time and although Budler fought back well after being hurt, it was a very clear round for the champion. Taguchi build well on that success and seemed to do just enough to take round 10 and 11.
Knowing he had to be behind, even if it was close, Taguchi went all out in round 12 and quickly hurt Budler before sending him down, in a decision ruled as a slip. Taguchi would continue to press and attack through the entire round whilst Budler was in survival mode, holding, spoiling and taking punishment as Taguchi hunted a remarkable come from behind win. Sadly though for him he couldn't get the stoppage and we went to the cards.
Whilst waiting for the cards Budler's crash to the canvas was reviewed and reversed into a knockdown, which it hard originally looked like, but still even with the 10-8 in his favour Taguchi simply hadn't done enough, and the judges all had the bout 114-113 in favour of the South Africa.
With the win Budler becomes a 2-weight champion and Japanese boxing misses out, again, on what could have been a massive domestic unification bout between Taguchi and WBC champion Ken Shiro.
Whilst last year was a big one for Japan this year has been a faltering and frustrating one. The country has seen Kenichi Ogawa being stripped of the IBF Super Featherweight title, for what was seemingly a skin medication, Daigo Higa lose the WBC Flyweight title on the scales, and now Taguchi's loss here. There is still time left to finish this year on a high, and demand for a rematch between Taguchi and Budler has already began, but it's not been a good few months for Japanese boxing.
The Light Flyweight division is probably the most over-looked in the sport today, but has been consistently delivering over the last few years. Today it delivered again with messy, wild, intense and thoroughly compelling war for the WBA “regular” title.
The bout in question saw former Japanese Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi (15-1, 5) battle against hard hitting Venezuelan Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) in what was a massively entertaining contest.
The bout started with Canizales looking the boss, and enjoying a very good first round before Konishi's pressure and work rate came in to play and he appeared to take round 2. The most decisive round of the fight was the third, and it was a huge one for Canizales, as he dropped the Japanese man with a right hand, and came close to forcing a stoppage as he landed right hand after right hand. Konish seemed to have no way of dealing with the power or physicality of Canizales and the bout was looking unlikely to go long given how damaged Konishi looked.
Surprisingly Konishi didn't just make his way through round 4, but actually won the round as his pressure and work rate made Canizales look uncomfortable. The body work from the Japanese man appeared to have an effect with Canizales almost running away at times and looking negative, uncomfortable and some how like the weaker puncher. Through the middle rounds Konishi continued to build on his success, snowballing his offense through the middle rounds as he made up for the torrid round 3 and looked to be on his way to taking a decision, with Canizales looking tired and worn out.
In round 8 Canizales began to find his rhythm again, it wasn't as aggressive as he'd been in round 3 but with Konishi beginning to slow Canizales managed to catch the eye of the judges again and land solid single shots. Konishi, to his credit, refused to back off, but he seemed unable to get as close as he had from rounds 4 to 7, and Canizales was able to get his crisper work off.
After a few, very close, rounds, the bout was hanging by a thread as we entered the championship rounds. This is where the bout changed, rather than Konishi being on the front foot and chasing Canizales the two men began to spend large swathes of time in center ring, brawling in a phone booth. The action wasn't the prettiest but it was incredible, with both just taking it in turns to let their shots go, and both connected. It looked, in some ways, as if Canizales knew he had to change how he was fighting and it made for 2 amazing rounds to end the fight.
Given the good start for Canizales, the mid fight surge from Konishi and the competitive latter stages the decision was always going to be a tight one, though it did feel like Konishi had done just enough with his work rate and pressure. Sadly it wasn't to be with the judges all scoring the close bout to Canizales, with scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111. The closest of those cards could well have been right, though a score of 116-111 for Canizales does perhaps need to be questioned, as it didn't seem particularly accurate.
The win for Canizales will likely set up a Japan return and potential rematch with Ryoichi Taguchi, with who he has previously drawn against. For Konishi another world title fight is likely around the corner, and he showed that he belonged at this level.
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.
On a huge day for boxing fans around the globe it could be said that fans in the Philippines got the perfect start as they got two brilliant bouts on Pinoy Pride 42, the second of which saw a local hero retain a world title, despite suffering massive cuts over both eyes.
The champion was IBF Light Flyweight kingpin Milan Melindo (37-2, 13), who narrowly defeated South African challenger Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10) in a really dramatic, and engaging contest.
The fight started slow and the 4 rounds were tactically changed rounds with Melindo looking to unleash his counter punches and Budler waiting back, trying to figure out a point of attack. That saw the challenger look to jab, and look to unleash combinations on the inside, though he got punished for both. The one massive incident during those early rounds was a monstrous low blow from Melindo that sent Budler down in a heap.
In round 5 it seemed like Budler finally found something to go with as he upped the pace, and Melindo responded in kind in a round that suddenly saw the fight come alive. Through the round it seemed like Melindo was the bigger puncher, but Budler certainly seemed to land more and seemed to be the one forcing the action as it suddenly looked like we were on for a tear up.
Sadly the action completely died in round 6, arguably the worst round of the fight. Despite the action dying off the end of the round saw the drama begin as a huge headclash left Budler cut over the left eye, with the cut being a long, deep one. The cut could have stopped the fight, and in round 7, when the doctors inspected it, it did look like we were going to have an early conclusion.
Thankfully the doctor decided to let the fight go on and in round 7 Budler had a great round and it seemed things were turning his way, with the cut clearly bothering Melindo. To his credit Melindo fought back fantastically in rounds 8 and 9, as he escaped another inspection.
With the fight finely balanced Melindo suffered yet again, as the two traded blows and their heads connected again. This time it was Melindo's right eye that was left with a gash over it and a bad swelling that made it seem like he was essentially blind in the eye. The swellings drove on Budler in round 11 and although Melindo was clearly fighting with his sight impaired the Filipino had his moments, including a massive right hand late on. It wasn't enough to take Melindo the round but continued to prove he was the power puncher in there.
With the bout close, and with Melindo's face a swollen and cut mess, the final round was always going to play a major role and both fighters knew it. Budler came out hot, unfortunately was dropped in the first 30 seconds. He got back to his feet, complained about it being a trip and then they went to war, with Melindo seemingly hunting a stoppage then Budler turning the tables until they were just trading back and forth in a round that should in contention for round of the year.
When the knockdown occurred it did seem like it would play a massive role, and that proved to be the case when the cards were read, with scores of 115-113 to Budler being over-ruled by scores of 115-112 and 117-110 for Melindo.
With the win Melindo secures his first defense, but he will be out of the ring for quite some time due to the cuts he suffered, which were both nasty ones. Potentially he could be back in time for a mandatory in 2018, or perhaps see an interim champion crowned whilst he recovers.
Although the Light Flyweight lacks the respect it deserves this was the second world title fight the division has seen this week, and like the first it was a thrilling and dramatic defense, with the winner over-coming serious facial damage. Sadly though it could mean that two champions are out of action until 2018.
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.