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.