Former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) [木村翔] spoke to Boxingnews.jp over the last few days and revealed that he is hoping to get another world title fight in the near future, as he attempts to become a 2-time world champion.
The popular Kimura, who went from unknown to Asian star in 2017 when he upset Zou Shiming in China, has been training at the LARA TOKYO kick boxing gym in recent times as he looks to prepare for his next fight, and has been training with his new time since the start of the year.
The former champion revealed that his new trainer has seen him working on areas that have seen notable improvement. That has been particularly notable in his mitt work, which has made Kimura feel his power and speed has improved whilst his footwork is also developing.
Although he's always been a strong fighter Kimura has also been developing physically and suggested that he has developed thicker legs and a stronger body, building up on his care strength.
According to comments on Boxingnews.jp Kimura is said to be in negotiations for a world title fight, though it is unclear whether he will be fighting at Flyweight, the division that suits him best, or Light Flyweight, which he challenged Carlos Canizalez at last year.
Given how much fun Kimura fights are it's great to hear that he's developing well and has ambitions to once again reach the top of the sport. That's a huge difference to comments he made in 2018, when it seemed like he was on the verge of walking away from the sport, following his loss to Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] in a bout that many regard as the 2018 Fight of the Year.
Yesterday in the Philippines we saw former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) [木村翔] score a 2nd round TKO win over former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-8-1, 13) in a bout for ABF Flyweight title. The bout was Kimura's first since a loss to WBA "Regular" Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales last May and after the bout Kimura spoke about his hopes for the future.
"The next match depends on management, but I want to work hard and do my best so that I can compete in world title bout. I will return to the top again in the world this year." [Translated]
Despite the comments it's unclear what weight Kimura plans to fight at going forward, whether it will be Light Flyweight, where he fought Canizales, or a return to being a fully fledged Flyweight, the weight he won his world title at.
It's worth noting that despite winning the ABF Flyweight title yesterday the contracted weight for the bout was actually above the Flyweight limit, with the bout being fought at 113lbs. Suggesting, maybe, that the move down to Light Flyweight for the Canizales bout, was a 1-off and not a sign of where he'll be fighting going forward.
There are brilliant match up, at either weight, for the popular Kimura and we really look forward to seeing where he goes now.
One other thing that's interesting is we, believe, this bout was fought under a 1-fight deal with the Hanagata Gym, meaning that technically he's a promotional free agent, and this could see him essentially picking a gym affiliation based on what opportunities they can secure for him later in the year.
In the Philippines earlier today fight fans had a battle of former world champions, as former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) [木村翔] battled former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-8-1, 13) in a bout for ABF Flyweight title.
On paper this looked a lot of fun. Both guys have aggressive styles, and they could easy have a tear up with pretty much anyone, and keep us interested.
In the first round Kimura hunted Sabillo, applying pressure and looking to see what Sabillo had to offer. It was relatively quiet from the Filipino, but Sabillo did come alive in round 2, and began to let his shots go. He was aggressive and even forced Kimura to back up at times, as the bout really came alive.
Sadly though all hope of something special ended in round, after what had been a really fun start to the bout, when Sabillo took a huger, counter left hook. The shot was clean but wasn't a knockout punch. Sadly Sabillo's right knee seemed to collapse on it's self when the shot landed.
With Sabillo in clear agony, on the canvas, the referee waved off the bout. It was a freak injury, but it had been caused, at least partly by the left hook of Kimura.
For Kimura this was his return to the ring following an ill fated decision to move to Light Flyweight and challenger Carlos Canizales for the WBA "regular" title. He's now back at Flyweight and in reality this is the division that seems to suit him. Fingers crossed he gets back in the world title mix here, with fights against guys like Angel Acosta, Giemel Magramo, Junto Nakatani, Moruti Mthalane, Artem Dalakian and Julio Cesar Martinez all looking like they could be amazing contests.
As for Sabillo it's hard to know what's next. He's lost 4 in a row and at the age of 36 he's certainly an old guy for the lower weights. If the injury is as severe as it looked he could be out for a year regardless, and from there it's really impossible to know whether he will return to the ring, never mind have any sort of success in the sport.
Earlier this year news broke in regards to a match up between former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) [木村翔] and former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13). At the time there was a problem for Kimura in regards to his license for the fight, following the closure of the Aoki gym at the start of the year.
This morning it was announced that Kimura is now in possession of a JBC license having inked a temporary deal with the Hanagata gym, for a 1 fight only agreement.
The agreement sees Kimura secure a Japanese licenses through affiliation with the Hanagata for the Kimura bout, something that was needed due to an agreement between Japanese and the Philippines. It will however leave Kimura free to work with a different promoter afterwards. Without a gym affiliation for the bout Kimura wouldn't have been allowed to fight at all on the show.
This is very similar to what the Hanagata gym, lead by Susumu Hanagata [花形進], also did for Kyonosuke Kameda [亀田京之介] and Takeshi Takehara [竹原毅] ahead of the All Japan Rookie of the Year finals late last year, after the Kyoei gym closed.
It seems obvious that Mr Hanagata doesn't want fighters missing out due to the way gyms are running, and it's great to see the Hanagata gym doing things like this.
Longer term it seems unclear what Kimura will be doing in regards to his gym affiliation, but there are going to be options out there, and it wouldn't be a massive surprise to see him linking up with Dangan Aoki, who were seen as the favourite to sign him, later in the year.
Over the last few weeks a rumour has swirled around regarding a fight between former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) [木村翔] and former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13). Today that fight was officially announced by Kimura at a press conference, who also confirmed then when and where of the contest.
The clash between former world champions will take place on February 15th in the Philippines, at the Manila Arena.
For Kimura this will be his first bout since losing to Carlos Canizales back in May, in a WBA Light Flyweight title bout held in Fuzhou. It felt like Kimura's usual energy and relentlessness were lacking, and that was maybe due to making the 108lbs limit rather than fighting in the more comfortable Flyweight divisions, which he he had been fighting at since late 2016.
As for Sabillo the 35 year old Filipino will be looking to avoid a 4th straight loss, and comes into the bout having been inactive since an April 2019 loss in Mexico to upcoming world title challenger Daniel Valladares. He desperately needs a win to keep his career alive, however he is a very long way removed from his world world title reign of 2013 and it's unclear how much longer he will be able to continue trading on his name alone.
Despite today's announcement form Kimura there is is still a lot of questions regarding the bout. Firstly the rounds and weight weren't confirmed. More notably however it's still unclear whether Kimura will be fighting under the new DANGAN Aoki gym license, would be fighting freelance, so without a Japanese gym, or will look to transfer to another gym. We suspect he'll be with the DANGAN Aoki gym, which officially opens tomorrow, but nothing was confirmed.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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