The Light Flyweight division has, over the last few years, been one of the best divisions in the sport. It has given us clash after clash between top fighters, with champions rarely picking picking easy defenses, and with fighters delivering top action at a high skill level. Among the division's finest for the last few years has been Japan's Kenshiro (15-0, 8), the current WBC champion and one of the standout fighters on the Japanese scene and of the most rounded Light Flyweights on the planet. On July 12th Kenshiro makes his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-3-1, 22), who is getting his third shot at a world title.
The 27 year old Kenshiro is a second generation fighter, following in the huge footsteps of Hisashi Teraji, a former Japanese Middleweight and OPBF Light Heavyweight champion. He was tipped as one to watch as soon as he turned professional, and quickly raced through the rankings, unifying the JBC, OPBF and WBC Youth titles in a little over 2 years of his debut. In just his 10th bout he claimed the WBC title, dethroning Mexican veteran Ganigan Lopez, and has already racked up 5 defenses of the belt.
As the WBC champion Kenshiro has proven himself an excellent fighter, whilst scoring wins against the likes of Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo, Saul Juarez and Lopez, in a rematch with the veteran. Not only has he been beating really good fighters but he's been showing different things in every fight. That has been shown by the way he dominated Melindo with his jab and took out Lopez in their rematch with a body shot, stopping two good veterans in the process. Their are still question marks about his power, his chin and how he copes with intense pressure, but so far has done little other than impress and improve to become one of the true divisional stars.
Filipino fighter Jonathan Taconing has been one of the division's forgotten contenders in recent years, and at 32 is now entering what is likely his final world title shot. He's been a professional for more than 12 years and has, unfortunately, been one of the card carrying members of the "who needs him?" club for much of that time, with fighters knowing what he is, and knowing he's not worth the risk. Early in his career he suffered a could of set backs, a narrow loss to Joe Galamition and a technical draw with Erwin Picardal. Since then he has gone 21-2 (17) with both losses coming in world title bouts, one of which was a very controversial one in Thailand whilst the other was to the aforementioned Ganigan Lopez in Mexico.
Taconing is a herd hitting and teak tough southpaw slugger. He's technically not the smoothest, or the quickest or the most rounded, but he's a nightmare to fight due to his physicality, and he can really bully people. His southpaw stance makes him double awkward with his shots, which are unorthodox anyway, coming from really unusual angles. He can certainly be out boxed, as Lopez showed, but it will take a fighter with a disciplined game plan to out box him. He can, potentially, be out fought, but it really would take a very special fighter to do that, and someone who could not only take his shots but also hit him hard enough to get his respect. Something that is easier said than done.
Sadly for Taconing we expect to see his technical flaws be the different here, and for Kenshiro to box smartly, stay on his toes and simple out box, out skill and out speed the dangerous challenger. If he does that it's hard to see anything but a Kenshiro win, though one where there is always the potential for danger. Taconing will have the power to turn things around, though we don't see him landing accurately enough or clean enough to make the most of his brutal power against one of the division's best fighters.
Prediction UD12 Kenshiro
Over the last few years fans of the smaller weights have had numerous treats with some thrilling wars and non-stop action. This weekend we may well see some more great bouts in the lower weights with one potential war coming in Mexico as Filipino banger Jonathan Taconing (22-2-1, 18) gets a long awaited world title shot, and takes on Ganigan Lopez (27-6, 17), the current WBC Light Flyweight champion.
Taconing has been a card holding member of the “Who needs him?” club since 2012, when he got his only previous world title fight and was controversially beaten by Kompayak Porpramook in Thailand. Although an avoided fighter after that bout Taconing has subsequently gone 9-0 (8), claimed the OPBF title and scored notable wins over Vergilio Silvano, Ramon Garcia Hirales and Jomar Fajardo.
Taconing is avoided for a number of reasons. Firstly he's a huge puncher in the lower weights. Only a small number of fighters have heard the final bell against him, and only 1 of the last 9 opponents survived his power, though that one ended early with a technical decision. He's tough having proven his chin in the past and never backing up against the likes of Porpramook, Fajardo or Hirales, and he really trusts his chin. And third he has a great engine. Despite stopping many opponents early he has shown power late in fights, and actually stopped Hirales in the last 10 seconds of the 10th round. Finally, and perhaps worth of all for his opponents, and team, is that he's a southpaw making him even more tricky.
When it comes to the champion we have a talented fighter who has proven he can travel to win bouts, but has had a long and draining career. Aged 34 he's in the twilight of his career, though this is first world title defense and he did score his biggest career victory just 4 months ago, when he travelled to Japan and defeated Yu Kimura for the title. It's worth noting that a year ago he pushed the then champion Pedrio Guevara all the way in a thrilling 12 rounder, in a bout that some thought would be his last hurrah.
In the ring Guevara can both box or fight. He's not an elite boxer but he's got the basics down excellently, as he showed against Kimura, and when he needs to have a war he can. In fact not only can he have a war, but he can take punishment as well, with only one stoppage against him, that coming to the big punching Filipino Denver Cuello who was on a genuinely destructive run at the time and that came at 105lbs.
Coming in to this one we expect a war, a full on violent, and exciting war, though given Taconing's power we eventually think he'll break down the ageing Lopez in the later rounds. Before then however this one will be a lot of fun, with both men being forced to take some seriously big shots.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.