The Watanabe Gym is one of the most important in Japan now, and has a a lot of future world champions training at the gym. A few years ago it had a number of world champions, with Takashi Uchiyama and Ryoichi Taguchi leading the gym alongside the often unheralded Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14).
Despite his less than stellar record Kono was a throw-back, who learned on the job, put on a show, and fought hard to try and make a name for himself. The "Tough Boy" had turned professional with little in terms of amateur success but went on to carve out an exciting and successful professional career.
Whilst Kono did lose a number of his biggest bouts, he did also score a lot of notable wins, and with that in mind we want to bring you "The 5 most significant wins for...Kohei Kono."
1-Teppei Kikui III (February 12th 2007)
The first fight to be included here is Kono's first title win. This came in early 2007 when he beat Teppei Kilkui, in their rubber match, and claimed the Japanese Super Flyweight title. Kono had won the first meeting between the two men, back in 2003, but had lost in their first rematch, in 2005. Following their second bout Kikui had gone on to win the Japanese Super Flyweight and defended it once, before facing Kono. Here Kono would take a close, but clear, decision to claim the title and give his career a huge shot in the arm.
2-Eden Sonsona (October 6th 2007)
Just 8 months after winning the Japanese title we saw Kono become a double champion, unifying the Japanese title with the OPBF title, thanks to a split decision win over Eden Sonsona. The bout was a hotly contested 12 rounder, but one that saw Kono's desire being just enough to get him over the line and take him to the victory for his first international title. Interestingly Kono would actually defend the unified titles in 2008, being the only man to defend the Japanese Super Flyweight title in a 12 round as a result!
3-Tepparith Kokietgym (December 31st 2012)
With his career looking like it was pretty much stumbling into nothingness Kono went into a WBA Super Flyweight bout against Tepparith Kokietgym knowing it would likely be his last chance. Kono was 27-7 (10) at the time and 32 years old, he had come up short in a number of other world title fights and was facing a 24 year old world champion who had racked up 3 success wins against Japanese fighters to become a "Japan Killer". Despite many expecting Kono to remain a "nearly man" of Japanese boxing he managed to surprisingly stop the Thai in the 4th round to claim the WBA title and become a world champion, in his 35th professional bout. This would go on to be the only stoppage loss of Tepparith's career, and clearly saved Kono's career, just as it looked like it was about to end.
4-Denkaosan Kaovichit (March 26th 2014)
Having lost the WBA Super Flyweight title to Liborio Solis, in his first defense, Kono was looking to reclaim the title in 2014 when he clashed with Thai veteran Denkaosan Kaovichit. The bout would really leave the loser looking down the barrel. At the time Kono was 33 and Denkaosan was 37, and neither would have been experience to bounce back. The fight was actually a close one early on, with Denkaosan picking himself up from a 4th round knockdown. As the bout went on though Kono's pressure got too much for Denkaosan's old legs, and the Thai was broken down in the 8th round, as Kono became a 2-time world champion.
5-Koki Kameda (October 16th 2015)
In his second defense, of his second reign, the 34 year old Kono made his US debut as he took on the controversial Koki Kameda in the first ever all-Japanese world title fight on US soil. Kono was seen as the under-dog, and it was assumed that Kameda would become the first Japanese male fighter to hold world titles in 4 weight classes. Instead Kono put on the performance of a life time to defeat Kameda in what was a brilliant fight between two men looking to make a statement on American soil. Kono simply out worked the more naturally talented Kameda, who never fought again as a professional. For many outside of Japan this was their first chance to see Kono, and we suspect many wanted to see him again afterwards.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces