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.
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.
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)
This past Saturday night didn't, in fairness, have a great day of mouth watering action set to take place with the most interesting bout being a WBC Light Flyweight world title bout between hard hitting Filipino challenger Jonathan Taconing (22-3-1, 18) and defending champion Ganigan Lopez (27-6, 17). Sadly for Taconing the bout ended up being his second loss at world level, though one that would have helped keep his loyal supporters backing him to another potential shot.
The fight started well for the Lopez who used his movement and straight punching to neutralise the pressure and nasty hooks of Taconing, who looked half a second behind the champion in the opening stanza. Taconing did however find his range and managed to have notable success in round 2, one of his best rounds of the fight, as Lopez was forced to take some heavy leather and was back up.
Lopez bounced back from the bad second round and won the third and fourth round by again using his feet and landing the better shots, including a beautiful straight left hand in round 4. Despite landing some humdingers Lopez was never able to make Taconing take a step backwards, but was making him look like a straight brawler looking for the Haymakers whilst Lopez himself was boxing wonderfully and trading just when he needed to. It seemed clear after 4 rounds that if it went to the cards then Lopez was going to win, but Taconing wasn't travelling with the intent of seeing the final bell and continued to press the action.
In round 5 Taconing began a real surge easily winning the round with some very heavy shots that seemed to seriously shake up the champion who had a nightmare round and appeared on the verge of unravelling. Taconing smelled his chance and continued to force the action in round 6 as has clawed back some of the lost ground from the opening section of the fight and it seemed like the challenger was suddenly coming on strong whilst the champion was failing. The challengers momentum continued into round 7, another clear round for the challenger who again seemed to shake up the champion who was looking particularly ragged, despite landing some solid counters that just seemed to bounce off the iron chinned Filipino.
In the 8th round the Filipino continued to try and build on his success, but unfortunately a clash of heads saw him being deducted a point whilst Lopez suffered a cut. The cut seemed to kick Lopez into warrior mode and he seemed willing to go toe-to-toe with Taconing at times as he looked for some way of turning the fight back in his favour.
Sadly at the end of round 8 we had the opening scoring which made a farce of the 8 rounds we had had, with one judge giving Taconing just a single round and another giving him just 2 rounds in what had been a very competitive fight.
Knowing he had no chance on the scorecards Taconing tried to up the pressure in the later rounds, possibly doing enough to claim round 9, but not enough in the final 3 rounds as he seemed to tire and Lopez managed to have his second wind, especially in the final 2 rounds as Lopez managed to again control the bout.
Watching it the bout seemed close, but like Lopez had just done enough. Sadly the cards failed to reflect that nature with scores of 118-109 and 119-108 alongside a much more reasonable 115-112, which seemed to be a fair score.
Sadly for Taconing this must feel like another case of travelling and knowing everyone was against him. We've no complaint about the results but given the scorecards he really was never going to get a decision and that's got to make him wonder why he bothered even turning up. For Lopez the win legitimises him as a world champion, and the performance it's self shows his toughness and ability, but we'll likely have a target on his back going forward.
At the end of 2015 Japanese boxing looked like it was going to rule the Light Flyweight division for the foreseeable future. They had 3 of the world champions and a number of rising youngsters, such as Ken Shiro as well as the promise of Kosei Tanaka moving up in weight. Sadly for Japanese fans 2016 hasn't started the way they'd have hoped with the popular Yu Kimura (18-3-1, 3) [木村 悠] losing the WBC title in his first defense.
The Teiken fighter, who claimed the belt with a big upset last year over Pedro Guevara, was matched hard for a first defense, taking on former challenger Ganigan Lopez (27-6, 17).
The first round was a slow one, with both men looking to find their range and although it did catch fire late on it didn't seem likely to set the tone for the fight. For Kimura however it was a good one, with the champion finding a home for his straight right hand, which looked very crisp.
Kimura's crisp right hand was also a key shot in rounds 2 and 3 which were both competitive and fought at mid range. It seemed the range was ideal for Kimura who was having notable success with the right hand, however Lopez was giving as good as he got and looked to have the significant edge in power, which was allowing him to walk through Kimura's best shots.
In round 4 the fight changed with Lopez adapting his style and moving more, picking his moments more carefully and unloading very smart combinations. He was simply out boxing and out working Kimura who struggled to answer anything during the round, a very 1-sided round.
Given the competitive nature of rounds 2 and 3 we thought the cards would be close, though the judges cards were all 39-37 in favour of the challenger when they were read publicly before the start of round 5.
Sadly for Kimura that was as close as he came to retaining his title with Lopez building on his success from round 4. He continued to box, move and pick his spots for combinations, coming in to the pocket at will where Kimura's lack of power really made life easy for the challenger. Kimura, to his credit, took the best shots that Guevara was throwing, but failed to match his work rate.
By round 8, when the cards were publicly announced again, reading 79-73, twice, and 77-75, it seemed like there was very little chance for Kimura, who was showing a bruise under his right eye and a marking on his nose. The shots of Lopez had began to take their toll and although tough Kimura was showing the scars of war.
Lopez continued to dictate the tempo and action of the fight through round 9 and 10 as he further increased his lead and although Kimura tried to fight back hard in round 11 the champion was in a hole he simply couldn't climb out of. His lack of power was allowing Lopez to take shots with no risk of being stopped, and Lopez's own shots were forcing Kimura to think twice about doing anything too risk.
By the final round Lopez seemed to know he had it in the bag and was happy to spoil, run and hold between his combinations as he cruised the round and cruised his way to his first world title. Although dominant one judge managed to score the bout with the cards reading 118-110、119-109 and amazingly 114-114.
Every so often a fighter steps up in class and puts on a performance that few could have expected. That was the case earlier today when little Japanese fighter Yu Kimura (18-2-1, 3) shocked the boxing world with a split decision win over Pedro Guevara (26-2-1, 17) to claim the WBC Light Flyweight title. The result, which really was a shock, so Kimura claiming his biggest win just days after turning 32 in what was his first bout scheduled for 12 rounds.
To begin with Kimura didn't look like a champion in waiting. For the first couple of rounds it seemed that Guevara was going to make the 3rd defense of his title with relative ease. He had out boxed Kimura and was establishing his jab and his style on the fight. Kimura, to his credit, fought back well in round 3 but was on the receiving end in round 4.
The WBC open scoring, which is in effect for WBC, JBC and OPBF title fights in Japan, had Guevara in a clear lead after 4 rounds with 2 of the judges scoring it a shut out whilst the other had given Kimura a single round to leave the third card as 39-37.
Kimura's gallant fight back in round 3 was easily forgotten when he was hurt in round 5 and it looked as if Guevara was going to move up a gear and hunt a stoppage against the local fighter. Instead however the fifth seemed to light a fight in Kimura who came back strong and aggressive in round 6 as he began to suddenly turn the fight on it's head, attacking more and grinding the body of the champion. The fight back was unexpected but needed and by round 8 it seemed as if the challenger was feeling in his groove and that the champion was being forced to think of another plan.
The fight back from Kimuda had seen the cards shift drastically with the judges cards reading 79-73, Guevara, 77-75, Guevara and 76-76. It was still Guevara's to lose, but Kimura was certainly not lying down for the champion.
Kimura continued his determined fight back in round 9 as he again took the fight to the champion who tried to retaliate but struggled to keep pace with the Japanese fighter who seemed to be like a little ball of energy. The energy of the challenger had seemingly got the fight to a draw on the cards with 3 rounds left.
The 10th was another where Kimura refused to back down, forced the issue and neutralised the reach advantage of the champion, who was struggling to land his jab effectively. Instead of Guevara's jab it was the aggression of Kimura that was capturing the attention of the judges and it seemed Guevara knew it as he tried to trade through round 11 in a brilliant and close round. The competitive 11th was followed by another close one in round 12 as the bout ended with real suspense.
The Mexican had started well but had slowed down before fighting hard late. Kimura had started badly before coming on, but had he done enough to turn over the scorecards? Had Guevara just done enough to retain the title.
The cards were close with Kimura just doing enough to claim a split decision with scores of 115-113, twice, against a card of 117-111 to Guevara, a card that really was the odd one out of a bout that could have been 115-113 either way.
The win for Kimura, which really a career defining victory for the former Japanese national champion, will see him linked with some intriguing match ups. Including a bout with Filipino slugger Jonathan Taconing, a bout with Ryo Miyazaki or a rematch, and unification, with Ryoichi Taguchi. It could also lead to a potential show down with the fast rising Ken Shiro.
For Guevara however the future is less bright, though we have heard rumours that he may be heading to Flyweight in the near future, which could help solve any issues with stamina that he may have
(Image courtesy of http://www.sponichi.co.jphttp://www.sponichi.co.jp)
We'll admit we like Guevara, a lot, and he may well be the best Light Flyweight on the planet right now. Sadly however we don't like mismatches and this seemed like a mismatch from the day it was announced. When it was set Claveras wasn't ranked by the WBC, who put him in just before the fight, and as a result several better fighters were over-looked.
With his first defence out of the way it now seems likely Guevara will have to face more testing foes. Hopefully they'll come soon. The division is a really exciting one, with the likes of Jonathan Taconing and Paipharob Kokietgym waiting in the wings. Hopefully someone of that ilk gets a shot before another untested, though promising and heavy handed, fighter like Claveras. As for the Filipino we hope to see him rebuilding, developing his skills and coming again somewhere down the line. This however was far too early and his team need to ask themselves why they felt he was capable of upsetting a brilliant young Mexican.
The second of 8 world title fights over the new year period ended in a combination of heart break and disappointment as the insanely popular Akira Yaegashi (20-5, 10) suffered his second successive stoppage defeat, and failed in his attempt to become a 3-weight world champion.
The popular Japanese fighter, a fan favourite with the hardcore and the Japanese, was hoping to capture the WBC Light Flyweight title as he dropped from Flyweight, following a stoppage loss to Roman Gonzalez back in September. Unfortunately however he was fighting a younger, bigger and fresher fighter in the shape of the talented Pedro Guevara (24-1-1, 15). Guevara, a very talented Mexican, had come into the bout as the under-dog though had only lost once, to the fantastic Filipino John Riel Casimero in what was a notable step up in class for the Mexican at the time.
We suspected this one could be a thriller though it started really slowly with a lot of scrappy action in the first two rounds. It seemed the styles clashed as opposed to gelled and although there were moments of action they were few and far between. Thankfully things began to hear up at the end of round 3 and from then on each round became progressively better as the two managed to get a read each other, find their rhythm and get back to what they were good at.
Although the early action was scrappy it was very competitive with neither getting much of an upper hand. That resulted in 4 very hard to score rounds, though rounds that the judges tend to feel Guevara deserved scoring the bout 39-37, twice, and 38-38 when the opening scoring was announced.
The opening score, something that much maligned in the west, seemed to do it's job here and it spurred on Yaegashi who had a tremendous 5th round as he brought the action to Guevara and the two began to trade shots. This was what we had expected from the off, action, excitement and a lot of punches. It seemed that Yaegashi was mounting his charge though his face was beginning to show the trademark damage that he seems to pick every fight.
Yaegashi's drive continued in round 6 as he continued to bring the action in what was the fights best round and a round that again seemed to go Yaegashi's way and saw Guevara bleeding from the right eye. On our unofficial card it had levelled off the fight at 57-57 and it seemed that the fight was swinging Yaegashi's way.
Sadly the momentum shift was short lived and in round 7 it seemed Guevara managed to refind his groove and Yaegashi sudden began looking older and slower. It was as if Yaegashi had put a lot into the previous 2 rounds and, although he was still fighting, he seemed a little bit tired all of a sudden. His desire was there and continued trying though unfortunately received a devastating body which sent him down and kept him down in agony.
It was a shame to see Yaegashi go out like he did, and one would suspect this could be the end for him. Hopefully it's not, but the wars have added up and Yaegashi certainly needs to give his body a long break.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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.