To end a super busy weekend of fights attention turned to the Portopia Hotel in Kobe as Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] challenged hard hitting IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30).
The bout, which had no live TV coverage, promised a lot. Whilst the TV coverage lacked it was streamed via the team of Konishi's and proved to be a genuinely compelling contest, from start to end, with Alvarado's power punching going up against Konishi's physical strength and toughness. It wasn't the all out war we were expecting, but it sure was an engaging, and thrilling contest.
From the opening round it was clear neither man was there just to pick up a pay cheque, with Konishi pressing forward, trying to smother the power of Alvarado, whilst the Champion found room to get his shots off. Konishi, to his credit, got plenty off himself in the early stages, often forcing Alvarado backwards and unleashing flurries of shots to head and body, but it was the blows of Alvarado that caught the eye, especially his uppercuts as Konish came in with his head down.
Konishi's best moments came in the middle rounds, as he landed most of his best work, stopped Alvarado from creating the space here needed to get full extension on his shots. By smothering Alvarado's power shots and pushing him backwards Konishi had real success, and left the Nicaraguan looking a little bit like a bully. It did however come at a cost, and the energy that Konishi had to use, and the shots he took in return for his success, were apparent in the later rounds.
The final third of the bout was Alvarado's best. Konishi had slowed, his work rate had dropped, and his ability to cut the distance effectively was waning. This allowed Alvarado the space he needed to land his thunderous power shots, and in rounds 10 and 11 he hurt Konishi, who was left wobbling and looking ready to go. Unfortunately for the Nicaraguan the bell came to give Konishi both times, but it was clear that Konishi was relying on his toughness by then, and his chance to turn things round had all but gone.
The brave and determined challenger managed to put up a really spirited effort in round 12, despite losing the round. It was clear he knew he'd lost but he'd put up a great effort against one of the hardest hitting champions in the sport.
After 12 rounds the judges had the bout a clear win for the Nicaraguan, with scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 116-112.
In a sign of real class Alvarado stayed with fans on his way backstage, bumping fists with the locals, taking pictures with kids and really spending a lot of time with those who had been cheering on Konishi. The fans however had clearly been won over by the champion, and it was great to see from both sides.
Sadly for Konishi this is the second time he has lost in a world title bout, and it might just be that whilst he is very good, and very strong, he isn't quite good enough to win a world title.
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.
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.