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)