Upsets arre a weird thing to talk about. Sometimes people call them, sometimes they don't. For us a key indicator as to whether a bout is an upset or not is the betting odds before a fight takes place. With that in mind, we bring you one of the biggest betting upsets since we starting this site, in our latest "What a Shock" article. And it's one that genuinely did result in our jaws dropping at the time. It ended one manes career and boosted another fighter, who went on to have a true FOTY contender only a few fights later.
July 28th 2017
Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai, China
Zou Shiming (9-1, 2) vs Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7)
In the summer of 2017 we saw Zou Shiming, the then WBO Flyweight champion, essentially taking control of his own career and frustrating Bob Arum and Top Rank. This resulted in Shiming setting up a title defense of his own in Shanghai against little known Japanese challenger Sho Kimura. Shiming took responsibility for the show, with his wife Ran Ying Yin, and he was looking to make his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title.
Shiming had won the WBO title the previous November but had had to wait more than 8 months to defend it. When he did return to the ring he selected the then unknown Sho Kimura as his opponent.
Prior to turning professional Shiming was an amateur standout and was tipped for success as a professional. He never really adapted to the pros in the way Top Rank had hoped, but he was still a capable boxer, with good speed, movement and boxing IQ. He had struggled but was expected to make an easy defense here.
In the ring Shiming was a quick, sharp fighter, who lacked power but used his tools and amateur experience well. He had been a professional for a few years but was still a fighter with a very amateur style. It was effective, but not very fan friendly or interesting.
As for Kimura he really was unknown. Of course now we all know who Kimura is, but back in 2017 his only win of note had been a narrow decision win over Masahiro Sakamoto for the WBO Asia Pacific title. He had no other wins of any note other than that one. In fact going deeper on his record he had lost inside a round on his debut. Not only had he done little in his boxing career, but he was also working as a delivery man outside of the ring, and was an unknown, even in Japan.
Stylistically Kimura was an aggressive pressure fighter, but a rather basic one, relying more on his strength and stamina than technical ability. He had proven he could go 12 rounds, when he beat Sakamoto, but didn't look like a special boxer during that fight.
It's worth noting that not only did Kimura have only a single win of note, Shiming was promoting the event but also no Japanese fighter had ever won a world title on Chinese soil before. It seemed an easy first defense for the champion and the bookies though as much, making Shiming a favourite, with odds between 1/12 and 1/40 whilst Kimura was a 9/1 under-dog.
From the off this was a pretty fun fight. Kimura immediately brought the pressure and Shiming was forced to let his hands go to try and create space. Although the two styles was massively different it made for a great dynamic between boxer and pressure fighter.
As the rounds went on Shiming was starting to out work Kimura, but never managed to demoralise the challenger, who was getting out landed, but landing the better shots, and never looked like he was tiring. This allowed Shiming to establish an early lead but he had been forced to work hard every round.
As we entered the later rounds the pressure from Kimura kept coming, and the wheels were beginning to come undone on Shiming. He was was slowing drastically, his hands were coming down and Kimura was getting the last word in on the exchanges. Kimura was cut, but determined, whilst Shiming was fighting on fumes, and looking under real pressure.
The pressure just didn't stop and the early lead of Shiming's was seemingly worn away as we entered round 10, however with the bout being in China however it was always going to be hard to trust the scoring. In round 11 Kimura took the the bout of the judges hands as he continued to pressure and eventually forced an exhausted Shiming to the canvas. Shiming beat the count but was done and the referee waved off the bout.
The loss essentially ended Shiming's career, with the Chinese fighter suffering eye issues that forced him to get emergency medical attention and he came close to losing sight in one eye. As for Kimura the bout launched his career massively, and he would go on to defend the belt twice before losing in the 2018 FOTY contender against Kosei Tanaka.
Although it's easy to down play what a shock this was, we need to remember Kimura was 9/1 to win! This was a serious upset and a massive shock, even if now, knowing what we do about Kimura, we would all back the Japanese fighter to beat Shiming.
With no fights currently taking place we've had a bit of time on our hands, and with that in mind we've decided to look at the sport in terms of how divisions sit, and do something that had previously been requested. The Asian divisional top 10's. We'll be starting this at Minimumweight and working our way through the divisions over the coming days and weeks. We know there will be some debate about some rankings and there is certainly some area for discussion, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
The third division in this series is the rather weird looking Flyweight division. Historically it's been a rich division, full of excellent Asian talent, but right now it's a division that is very much transitional in Asia and there is no recognised #1, like their is in most other divisions. Despite that it's not actually a poor division, in fact it's a deep one, just one lacking in terms of star power.
1-Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15)
Whilst we don't know who the true #1 is in the division it's probably fair to suggest that Junto Nakatani is one of the leading pack now that Kosei Tanaka has left the division. The 22 year old Japanese southpaw is regarded as one of the best youngsters in the sport and with wins over Dexter Alimentoo, Shun Kosaka, Naoki Mochizuki and Milan Melindo in recent bouts he's clearly among the very best in Asia, if not the best. Given his age, his style, his performances and his freakish size he's going to be a very, very hard man to beat. He was supposed to fight for the WBO Flyweight title earlier this year, but as of now, given everything going on, it's unclear when, and even if, that will end up happening.
2-Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
The man that Nakatani was supposed to fight for the WBO title was Filipino fighter Giemel Magramo. The once beaten 25 year old is a real talent, who was unfortunate in his only loss more than 3 years ago. Since suffering his sole loss he has scored 7 wins, all by stoppage. They have included victories over Richard Clavers, Petchchorhae Kokietgym and Wenfeng Ge. It's really the win over Ge that has strengthened Magramo's claim as a top Flyweight. Whilst Magramo's record suggests he's a pure puncher he's not, instead he's actually a very heavy handed boxer-puncher. He's aggressive, exciting, talented and has solid pop on his shots. There are area's for him to improve, and he can look a bit raw, but there is no doubting his ability and how much of a danger man he is in the division.
3-Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12)
Despite being the only former world champion on this list it's hard to really know where to place Sho Kimura. In terms of achievement he's the number one, by some distance, but since losing the WBO Flyweight title to Kosei Tanaka he's not really shown much. Last year he made an ill fated move down in weight, where he was easily beaten by Carlos Canizales, and since then he has only beaten Merlito Sabillo, who suffered what looked like an horrific injury. If Kimura is still the same fighter he was against Zou Shiming, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Froilan Saludar and Kosei Tanaka he'd be the #1 in the division, but at the moment question marks do hangover him. Those questions are magnified by the fact he's also changed gyms, leaving the the Aoki gym that lead him to his success.
4-Muhammad Waseem (10-1, 7)
The most successful amateur on this list Pakistani fight Muhammad Waseem looked like a star in the making early on, when he was impressing in Korea. In his first 5 bouts he had not only won the South Korean Bantamweight title but also beaten Jether Oliva and Giemel Magramo. Sadly financial backing failed to materialise and he would struggle to build on that early success. More than 3 years on he has managed to have only 2 more bouts of note, a close decision loss in an IBF title bout against Moruti Mthalane and a close win over Ganigan Lopez last year. Although clearly talented the 32 is no spring chicken and will likely be 33 by the time he returns to the ring. A real example of why a financially strong backer is needed, even at the lower weights.
5-Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9)
Filipino hopeful Jayr Raquinel is one of the hidden gems in the division. The 23 year old boxer-puncher has scored some very big wins over the last couple of years or so, stopping Keisuke Nakayama, Shun Kosaka and Takuya Kogawa in OPBF title bouts. Clearly a heavy handed fighter Raquinel still has work to do, and we saw him suffer a disappointing loss in China in 2018, when he seemed to be old manned by Wulan Tuolehazi. That loss hopefully serve as a turning point for Raquinel's training, and help him increase his activity in bouts, rather than sleep walking through portions of bouts. He's not yet ready for a world title fight, in our eyes, but is quickly moving towards one and could be ready in 2021 for a very big fight.
6-Wulan Tuolehazi (14-4-1, 7)
With wins over 2 fighters in the top 10 there will be an argument that Wulan Tuolehazi should be higher up the rankings, but in reality he's a hard man to judge. He beat Jayr Raquinel in 2018 but then squeaked some questionable decisions against Ryota Yamauchi and Ardin Diale in 2019, before being decimated by Kosei Tanaka at the end of last year. Had his bouts with Yamauchi and Diale not been in China we would be looking at a very different career for Tuolehazi, and there's a good chance he wouldn't have got the Tanaka fight. Although not a world beater he's proven himself a solid fighter, just maybe not as good as his results suggest. It's going to be very, very interesting to see what he does in his next few fights, as they could make or break him. At 27 he's in his physical prime, but it really is unclear as to how much further he can develop.
7-Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16)
Former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda is one of the more well known names on this list and has certainly proven to be a legitimate fringe world level fight during his 41 fight career. He's been a professional since 2005 and whilst his career is definitely coming to an end, the 33 year old is looking for one more shot at the top. Last year he put on a brave effort against Moruti Mthalane en route to a clear decision loss. That defeat ended a 6 fight winning run for the Japanese veteran who had taken wins over Takuya Kogawa, Yuta Matsuo and Katsunori Nagamine. Given his age and wear and tear he'll not have long left in the sport, but could well have one more crack at the top before hanging them up.
8-Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10)
Fast starter Seigo Yuri Akui should be regarded as one of the division's true danger men, though also someone who perhaps struggles if bouts don't finish early on. His 17 fight career has seen him scoring 9 opening round wins, but being stopped every time he has gone beyond 5 rounds. Akui is currently the Japanese champion and holds wins against Ryuto Oho, Masamichi Yabuki, Yoshi Minato and Shun Kosaka, but needs a solid international win to back up his ranking. Interestingly Akui could certainly see beat some of the man ranked higher up this list than himself, but also lose to some of the un-ranked fighters. That makes him very tricky to rank but also very exciting to watch.
9-Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
Another tricky man to rank is Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada, who announced that he was intending to compete as a Flyweight for the final few bouts of his career. The former Light Flyweight world title challenger had his best success at 108lbs, where his strength and physicality proved vital, and a move up could see him losing those assets. At 35 years old we can't begrudge Hisada's move up in weight, but he'll likely be 36 by the time he fights again and unless he can land a big fight at the weight we'll maybe never really know what he could do in the division. With 10 losses to his name he's unlikely to lure a big opponent in to the ring with him before calling a close on his career.
10-Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5)
One of the divisional stars of the future 25 year old Ryota Yamauchi looks like he could be unleashed back on a fast track when the sport resumes in Japan. He looked red hot early on but a controversial loss to Wulan Tuolehazi in China, in a great bout that saw both being dropped, and he followed that up with a disappointingly messy bout against Alphoe Dagayloan. Whilst he defeated Dagayloan he suffered a cut that prevented him from fighting in a Japanese title eliminator, and miss out on a bout with Akui. He did manage to return to the ring in February but it's hard to know when he'll be back out there and who he'll be against. A talented boxer who can brawl and fight he's one of the division's most interesting hopefuls.
On the bubble:
Wenfeng Ge, Jayson Mama, Taku Kuwahara, Kento Hatanaka, Jaysever Abcede, Alphoe Dagayloan and Dave Apolinatio
*Kosei Tanaka has signalled his intention is to move up and fight at Super Flyweight so isn't included here.
This past weekend we saw popular Japanese fighter Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) take a 2nd round win over fellow former world champion Merlito Sabillo. Following that win Kimura spoke about getting back into the mix for a world title. At the moment it's unclear whether Kimura will be fighting at Flyweight or Light Flyweight, but which ever option he takes there are a lot of potentially exciting opponents out there for him, and some amazing match ups he could be involved in.
Here we look at Five For...Sho Kimura, and we'll consider options at both Light Flyweight, where he is currently world ranked, and Flyweight, where he fought at last time.
1-Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26)
The most likely of the world champions for Kimura would be Moruti Mthalane. Although Kimura isn't ranked by the IBF, at the moment, changes are going to be made shortly, and with IBF #3 Giemel Magramo and #7 Junto Nakatani set to fight for the WBO title there will opening in their rankings. Mthalane has shown a willingness to travel to Japan, his last two bouts have been there, and we wouldn't be too surprised to see him return, if the right offer is made. Kimura could easily be slipped on to a bigger card as the second title bout, and deliver this bout. On paper this would be an amazing fight between two strong, solid, fighters and would see Kimura back at his natural weight, Flyweight.
2-Artem Dalakian (20-0, 14)
At the start of the month Kimura was ranked #10 by the WBA at Light Flyweight, but as we know he's probably better off fighting at Flyweight any way so a move up in weight to take on Artem Dalakian would be a smart one. Given Dalakian's reign so far he needs a legitimate challenge, otherwise his reign will become an even bigger joke, and Kimura would be a genuine challenge, for anyone at Flyweight. Kimura's style would force Dalakian to show all he has in his locker and would bring the type of pressure that the Ukrainian has never seen before. This is the sort of bout that makes sense for both men. It gives Kimura another shot, and gives Dalakian a worth while foe. Also, given Kimura still isn't well backed in Japan financially, he would likely jump at the chance to go to Europe for the bout. It's worth noting only one Japanese fighter has won a world title in Europe before, and that was Naoya Inoue last year.
3-Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12)
Bring the violence! WBC Flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez has got a bout set for February 29th against Jay Harris, but if he gets through that he'll be looking for a bigger name opponent, and why not former WBO champion Sho Kimura? On paper this would be brutal, two heavy handed, aggressive, exciting fighters meeting center ring and letting their blows go. Martinez, the younger man, would be the favourite and would likely get the bout secured for the US, or Mexico, thanks to his link up with Eddie Hearn, and if you offer Sho Kimura a bout on US soil he would almost certainly snap your hand off. This bout, as part of a big Stateside card in the US would be a great bout, and from a business sense, could help DAZN Japan get a show of interest. Also it would be a rather cheap bout to make, and guaranteed war.
4-Elwin Soto (17-1, 12)
if Kimura intends to fight at Light Flyweight we wouldn't like to see him in with Carlos Canizalez again, however a bout with WBO champion Elwin Soto could be brilliant, brutal and thrilling. Although that is dependent on Kimura making 108lbs with no issues. Soto is a talented youngster, with big power, and exciting style. If Kimura can make 108lbs comfortably it would be great to see whether his pressure and tenacity could break down Soto, or whether Soto has the power to chip away and stop Kimura. This bout would be brutal, exciting, action packed and absolutely amazing to watch. Like the Martinez bout this could take place in the US and be part of a DAZN card, this time from Golden Boy Promotions.
5-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
We return to Japan for the final bout on this list, a potential all Japanese show down with WBA "Super" Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. Kyoguchi isn't expected back until around April, plenty of time for Kimura to prepare for the move down in weight, and would be a very easy bout to make. This would be a brilliant fight for TBS to put on one of their broadcasts, and could work as a major support for a bigger name, such as the potential Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka bout. Kyoguchi is the more rounded boxer, but it would be very interesting to see him trying to beat off Kimura's pressure for 12 rounds. Like the Soto bout however this really depends on how easily Kimura can make Light Flyweight.
One of the world champions who defended their world title at the very end of 2019 was WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9). The man from Chukyo made his third defense of the title in impressive fashion, putting on a near punch perfect display against Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi, before clinically closing the showing with some sensational uppercuts.
With 3 defenses behind him and a potentially massive 2020 ahead of him it seems we're now at an ideal time to give Kosei Tanaka the "Five For" treatment, and look at five potential match ups for the "KO Dream Boy". Here are 5 options he, and manager Kiyoshi Hatanaka, should be looking at if they want to have a huge year!
1-Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26)
A bout between Tanaka and South African Moruti Mthalane would be a sensational match up between two men who are incredibly talented and smart in the ring, but go about things very differently. Mthalane, the current IBF champion, is a defensively sound fighter, with clean punches and a willingness to press forward behind a tight guard to force mistakes and open up counter opportunities. Tanaka on the other hand is a speedy fighter who likes to let his hands go, and will involve himself in a war far too easily. This could end up being a brilliantly exciting, yet high skill, war, though with Mthalane now in his late 30's we'd want this sooner rather than later.
2-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
Leading into the end of year show to close out 2019 it seemed TBS and the WBO were both building to a potential all Japanese show down between Tanaka and WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka. The bout would see Tanaka leaving the Flyweight division, just as it seems to be heating up, but for a bout against a Japanese icon like Ioka, with a 4th divisional title on the line it'd have been hard to fault Tanaka for going this route. Sadly since the show on New Year's Eve this bout has began to seem unlikely, at least for now. It seems both are on different paths, and if they do cross, it could well be 2 or 3 years from now.
3-Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12)
Although it seems WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez won't be available until the middle of the year, given he's pencilled into defend his title in late February, this is still a match up that genuinely intrigues us. On one hand you'd have Tanaka, a lightning quick boxer-puncher, blessed blink and you miss it speed. On the other hand you have "El Rey", a destructive freak of nature, who walks through opponents, with intense pressure and brutal power. Speed against power is always fun to see, and we can't help but view this as a super competitive bout between men with very different abilities, but abilities that would gel well. Oh and it'd be a unification bout!
4-Artem Dalakian (19-0, 14)
Another unification bout, and another we'd have to wait until summer for, would be a clash between Tanaka and WBA champion Artem Dalakian. Tanaka might not yet have truly shined as a Flyweight, though has beaten decent competition in his defenses, but Dalakian has completely wasted the good will of his title win. Despite being an excellent fighter Dalakian has done little of note since winning the belt in the US against Brian Viloria. Dalakian set to make his 4th defense in February, against Josber Perez, and that should be his final easy bout. With Dalakian turning 33 in August he needs big bouts, and he needs them soon, what better than facing Tanaka, in a unification bout in summer?
5-Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) II
The dark horse bout, though it really shouldn't be, would see Tanaka take on former foe Sho Kimura in a rematch of their 2018 Fight of the Year. Their first bout was a sensational war that helped put Tanaka on the map, and for him to give Kimura a chance to reclaim his title would be the right thing to do. If we ended up with a rematch half as good as their first contest then we wouldn't be complaining at all! We do imagine Tanaka would win a rematch easier than he won their first bout, but we'd still absolutely love to see these two share the ring one more time!
With our recent facts articles all focusing on single fighters we've decided to do one with a twice this weekend as we look at Asian fighters who won a world title but failed to win their professional debuts! We were surprised to find so many of these, but there was actually quite a few, in fact there was more than 25 world champions from Asia who either lost on debut, or drew on debut. Many of these aren't big names, but on the whole they all deserve a lot more attention than they get
1-Whilst we found lots of champions who have debuted in 6 rounders and even a few who debuted in bouts scheduled for 8, such as Naoya Inoue very recently. It is rare, so rare in fact that we could only find two world champions from Asia who debuted in an 8 rounder and lost, before winning a world title. The first of those was Frank Cedeno, the British Filipino fighter who beat Charlie Magri in Wembley for the WBC Flyweight title in 1983, we'll get on to the second later in this article!
2-Korea's second ever world champion Soo Hwan Hong, who is also the first Korean to win titles in more than 1 weight class, draw on his debut to the debuting Sang Il Kim. Coincidentally his career also ended on a draw, as he fought to a stalemate with fellow former world champion Dong Kyun Yum, in what was Hong's 51st bout. That was also Yum's final bout. Incidentally Sang Il Kim's record is 0-1-1.
3-Former WBA Super Flyweight champion Hyung Chul Lee lost 3 of his first 4 bouts, including his debut. Strangely his career ended going full circle and he would also lose his final 2 bouts, both against Alimi Goitia, with only 1 loss in the middle of his career. He would end up with a career record of 19-6 (15)
4-China's first ever male world champion, Xiong Zhao Zhong, fought to a draw on debut. Aged 23 at the time Zhong fought to a 4 round draw with Lingfeng Yu. Yu ended his career 0-6-1, and his only non-loss was the bout to Zhong!
5-Another world champion who fought to a draw on debut was Kwanthai Sithmorseng, who fought to a draw with Nakhon Muensa in June 2005. Kwanthai last fought in June 2019, and despite a draw on his debut he had now gone 56 straight fights without another draw, going 49-7 since that debut draw.
6-Our research suggests that Sho Kimura is the only Asian world champion to have been knocked out on debut! Even more surprising is the fact that Kimura has since built a reputation on being an incredibly tough competitor with a great gas tank. Not the type of fighter you'd think was blown away in 75 seconds on debut!
7-Filipino fighter Manny Melchor retired with a record of 38-35-6 (6), following a loss on his debut. This record makes the former IBF Minimumweight champion one of the very few world champions with a sub 50% winning record.
8-Staying with Manny Melchor, he won just 1 of his first 9 bouts! Starting his career 1-6-2. Things actually took a long time to get better for the Filipino who was 8-8-2 (2) after 18 bouts and didn't have more wins than losses until his 27th bout, when he beat Angelo Escobar to advance his record to 13-12-2 (4)
9-Incidentally the man that Melchor beat for the IBF Minimumweight title, Fahlan Sakkreerin Snr also lost on his debut, losing an 8 round decision, to Chana Porpaoin, who was fighting for just the second time. What makes this bout rather remarkable is that BOTH men would go on to win world titles! Porpaoin would would be a 2-time WBA Minimumweight champion whilst Sahlan would be an IBF Minimumweight champion. Yes, Fahlan was the second of the fighters to lose in an 8 rounder on debut, though of course the more notable fact here was who he lost to!
10-Korean fighter Sung Jun Kim strangely began his career 0-1-1, with his debut being a loss and then his second being a draw, both to the same opponent, In Soo Lim. As with some of the other opponents mentioned these were Lim's only bouts Kim also had a loss and a draw, later in his career, to Hong Soo Yang, and ended his career in 1982 with a loss, book ending his career with losses.
In 2017 Japanese fighter Sho Kimura travelled to China and dethroned local hero Zou Shiming to claim the WBO world title. Many know that was the first time a Japanese male had won a world title in China, and he went on to become a genuine star in Chinese boxing circles. He would lose the title less than 14 months later, in an instant classic with Kosei Tanaka, in what was regarded by many as the 2018 Fight of the Year.
Whilst a lot is known about Kimura, we now bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Sho Kimura
1-Following Kimura's win over Shiming he was referred to in some circles as the Heisei Cinderella man, referring to the Japanese Heisei era and his journey to a world title, which was unexpected and saw him essentially coming from nowhere to win major title.
2-Kimura's first stoppage win came in his 10th professional bout against Kamon Singram, who had a record of 0-24 with 12 stoppages losses before facing Kimura. Following this win Kimura scored 10 stoppages in his 11 subsequent wins!
3-Kimura's entrance song is “Forever Young” by Japanese folk singer Takehara Pistol, the full version of this song has been included at the bottom of this article.
4-Prior to winning the WBO Flyweight world title he had worked in a liquor store, a job he began doing in 2016
5-Although known as a tough and rugged fighter Kimura was dropped twice on his debut, a 75 second loss to Shosuke Oji.
6-Kimura's September 2014 draw against Akira Kokubo saw him being eliminated from the Rookie of the Year due to the rules of the Rookie of the Year. Incidentally this was Kokubo's third straight draw before he suffered 4 straight defeats.
7-When he won the world title in 2018 he became the first male world champion for the Aoki gym, which had been founded in 1945. Prior to Kimura's success the most notable fighter at the gym was female fighter Momo Koseki, who holds the record for the most world title defenses by a Japanese world champion.
8-Kimura's mother died when she was 44 and he was 20. After winning the WBO Asia Pacific and WBO world titles he took them to his mother's grave.
9-Whilst we all know Kimura's career defining win is his victory in China against Zou Shiming, what's fairly forgotten is that entering that bout he was a total unknown and you could get odds of 9/1 on Kimura beating Shiming!
10-Kimura won his first professional title, the WBO Asia Pacific title 1 day before his 28th birthday. Coincidentally his third professional bout came on his 25th birthday.
BONUS FACT-In beating Zou Shiming and Toshiyuki Igarashi, in back to back fights no less, Kimura actually beat 2 men who competed in the Light Flyweight division at the 2004 Athens Olympics!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One year ago we were lucky enough to work with CBC for the first time. We agreed terms to carry the official stream of their international broadcast for the WBO Flyweight world title bout between Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10 at the time) and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7 at the time).
Entering the bout Kimura was looking to make his third defense of the title, building on not only his title win against Zou Shiming but also wins against Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar. He was looking to continue his remarkable ascent from obscurity to star and build on real momentum that had been generated by his 3 wins at world level.
Tanaka on the other hand was looking to etch his place in history and match the record for fewest fights needed to become a 3 weight world champion, a record of 12 fights set just months early by Vasyl Lomachenko. He was looking to become a 3 weight champion at the age of just 23 and less than 5 years after making his debut.
We had high hopes for the bout. Kimura had been wonderfully impressive in recent bouts, not just his world level wins but also his win against Masahiro Sakamoto. He had shown real grit and determination,a great work rate, under-rated power and amazing energy. In fact he seemed to get stronger the longer fights went on. Tanaka on the other hand was an extremely skilled boxer, who got dragged into fights willingly, he had a reputation for getting into wars and had been dropped dropped twice just 2 fights previous by Palangpol CP Freshmart. Despite being skilled their was a sense of vulnerability about Tanaka that could have been his down fall here.
What we ended up getting was something exceeded expectations. It wasn't just a great fight, instead it was a bout that was widely hailed FOTY contender. A back and forth war that left fans on their seat, they styles of the two men gelling, the mentality of the two battling at the top. The fight was the sort of battle that makes people realise just how good fights with the little men can be.
On this anniversary of the bout we suggest you all relive this instant classic!
The month of May promised a lot for Japanese fighters, with a staggering 8 world title fights featuring Japanese fighters during the first month of the new Reiwa period of Japanese history. Sadly what could have been a huge month for Japanese fighters was a nightmare, with their fighters going 1-7 for the month at the top level. Whilst history was made in Europe, Japanese fighters suffered losses on Japanese, Chinese and American soil, and some defeats were horribly one sided.
The first of the Japanese fighters to fall short was Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22) who was stopped in the 7th round by Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) on May 4th, in an IBF Super Flyweight title bout. Ancajas was a big under-dog, but his performance saw him being totally out classed, and used as a punch bag by Ancajas, who had one of his best performances. Whilst Fuani showed his toughness his lack of defense, speed and movement really cost him hard here and allowed Ancajas one of his best performances so far.
Just over a week later, on May 13th, we saw Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) put up a brave effort as he lost to Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25), in an IBF Flyweight title bout. To credit Kuroda he was always seen as the under-dog and was really competitive in the first half, though ended the bout as the clear loser, suffering awful facial swelling in the process. Kuroda's effort deserves so many plaudits, but at the end of the day Mthalane was too good, too sharp and too skilled.
The third man to lose again put up a brave effort, with Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) coming up short in an IBF Light Flyweight title fight with Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30) on May 19th. Again the Japanese challenger put up a great effort, and was competitive at times, but was unable to match the champion overall, and was rocked hard late on as Alvarado came close to dropping the Shinsei man. All credit to Konishi for his effort, but he was clearly second best here to the excellent champion
The weekend of May 25th and 26th was a nightmare for Japanese fighters, a real nightmare, with a 0-3 run over the weekend. The first of those to lose was Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13), who lost the WBO Super Featherweight title to Jamel Herring (20-2, 10), in what was regarded as a 50-50 bout. Herring really boxed to a fantastic gameplan to out point Ito, who failed to ever get a read on the southpaw stance of Herring.
Just a day later we saw back to back losses for Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) and Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11).
Kubo put in a fan friendly performance, though was stopped by Chinese fighter Can Xu (17-2, 3) in a WBA "regular" Featherweight title fight. Kubo came to win, and gave a good account of himself, but was worn down by Xu, who made his first defense.
Kimura on the other hand was lacklustre, and very disappointed in himself, as he lost to WBA "regular" Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17). Kimura, who dropped down in weight, looked like he had lost 25% of his usual hunger, desire and energy and was rarely a threat to Canizales.
The final set back came on May 31st when former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) lost a technical decision to WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18). This rematch was expected to be hotly contested, but Fukuhara was just doing enough to lose competitive rounds to Wanheng, who extended his unbeaten record.
The only shining light for Japanese boxing at the world level this past month was the sensational Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16), who created history in Glasgow by stopping Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1,12) in 2 rounds to add the IBF Bantamweight title to his WBA regular belt. This bout, on May 18th, saw a Japanese fighter win a world title bout on European soil for the first time, after 20 losses, and proved to be their only success at world level this past May.
Whilst many of those who lost were clear under-dogs, such as Funai, Mthalane and Kubo, others weren't. Kimura was the betting favourite and Ito was a 50-50 shot. To see such a band month is a real worry and one that will linger in the mind of Japanese fans for the foreseeable future, as all the countries other top fighters, several of which have big fights in June and July.
Whilst the month promised a lot, it was a disaster for Japanese fighters, and hopefully not a sign that the Reiwa era will be a bad one for the Land of the Rising Sun.
The action for November continues over the coming week or saw with 7 title bouts in the space of just 4 days, and whilst some of the bouts aren't great they do tend to feature at least one fighter of real note in every one of the bouts.
Of those 7 title bouts 5 come on November 23rd's show in Osaka, with the title number selling the show as being something special, though the reality is that the show just simply has some well matched, or interesting looking fights on it.
Dwight Ritchie (14-0-0-4, 1) v Koki Tyson (10-2-2, 10)
One of those title bouts will see the unbeaten Dwight Ritchie defending his OPBF Middleweight title against Japanese puncher Koki Tyson, with Ritchie looking for this first defense of the belt and Tyson looking to become an OPBF champion at the second time of asking. Ritchie impressed in Japan earlier this year, when he ripped the title form Hikaru Nishida but will be facing a totally different stylistic match up here against the crude but heavy handed Tyson, who has shown fragility but can certainly bang.
Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9) v Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7)
The other OPBF title bout on the card will see OPF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Yutaka Oishi. For Hosokawa the bout will be his second defense of the title and see him trying to put a very poor performance against Koshinmaru Saito behind him, with many feeling that Hosokawa was lucky to get the draw in that bout. For Oishi the bout is his first for an OPBF title, though he has previously fought for a regional title in Australia, and he could genuinely play a spoiler to Hosokawa's hopes of fighting for a world title in the future.
Hinata Maruta (3-0, 2) v Joe Tejones (6-1, 2)
In a WBC Youth title fight we'll see fast rising Japanese prospect Hinata Maruta take on Filipino southpaw Joe Tejones. For Maruta this will be his first title defense, and he will be looking to build on an excellent win over Wilbert Berondo. The bout will however be Maruta's first against a southpaw and the focus will be on getting some rounds against a lefty. For Tejones the the opportunity is a big one, but it's hard to imagine him living with a fighter as naturally talented as Maruta and it is the visitor taking a huge step up in class.
Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-3, 2) Vs Inthanon Sithchamuang (30-8-1, 18)
In a WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title fight we'll former world title challengers collide as Hirofumi Mukai, a former 2-time world title challenger, faces Inthanon Sithchamuang in a really intriguing type of match up. Mukai is probably one of the least qualified 2-time world title challengers of recent times, having faced Pongsaklek Wonjojngkam and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but is still talented and is a nice pure boxer. Inthanon challenged Kohei Kono earlier this year in a gutsy, but out gunned, performance and given the limitations of the two men this should prove to be a really interesting bout.
Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0, 4) v Sho Kimura (12-1-2, 6)
A second WBO Asia Pacific title bout comes at Flyweight where the unbeaten Masahiro Sakamoto takes on the once beaten Sho Kimura in a wonderfully well matched bout that should test the ability of both men and their potentials. Sakamoto is stepping up in a big way here but was impressive last time out, taking a wide win over Il Che, and was the 2015 Flyweight Rookie of the Year. Kimura hasn't really scored a win of any note, but does come in to this bout on a 14 fight unbeaten run following a knockout loss on debut.
Milan Melindo (34-2, 12) Vs Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (31-4-1, 16)
On December 30th we'll see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi return to the ring, his supposed opponent will be either Milan Melindo or Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, who face off just 5 weeks earlier for the interim title. This bout will see Melindo getting a third shot at a “world title” and his first t home having had to travel to Macau and Mexico for his previous bit bouts. For Fahlan the bout is his second shot at a world title, after his controversial loss to Katsunari Takayama, and a win could see him return to Japan for another big bout, following bouts with Takuma Inoue, Ryo Miyazaki and the aforementioned Takayama. This bout will be a fun one and we wouldn't be shocked by any result.
Muhammad Waseem (4-0, 3) v Giemel Magramo (17-0, 13)
To end the month our attention turns to Korea where fast rising Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem takes on the unbeaten Giemel Magramo. Waseem, the most notable Pakistani born boxer since Hussain Shah, is looking to make his first defense of the WBC Silver Flyweight title and move towards a 2017 world title bout. For Magramo the bout is a huge step up and his first bout away from home, he's unbeaten but has never faced anyone with the pedigree or ability of Waseem, likewise Waseem has never faced anyone as hungry as Magramo.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).