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)
World Title Results
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