This coming Friday we'll see the long awaited ring return of WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (15-0, 10), who takes on "regular" champion Esteban Bermudez (14-3-2, 10), in what's expected to be a potential FOTY contender between two aggressive, hard hitting and exciting fighters looking to put down a marker to say they are the #1 fighter at 108lbs.
Of the two men the 28 year old Kyoguchi is the more well known and the more successful fighter. He had been a notable Japanese amateur before turning professional and debuting in 2016, with a low key win in Osaka. In just over 10 months he had gone from debutant to OPBF champion, stopping Armando de la Cruz for the OPBF Minimumweight title in February 2017. Just 5 months later he claimed the IBF Minimumweight title, the first world title of his career, which he defended twice before moving up in weight. At 108lbs he quickly established himself as one of the top divisional fighters, stopping Hekkie Budler at the end of 2018 for the WBA "super" title. Sadly since winning the Light Flyweight title he has lost a lot of momentum with just 3 defenses in 3 and a half years, as injuries and covid have really thwarted his career. He managed to record two defenses in 2019, but saw two planned defenses in 2020, against Andika D'Golden Boy in May and Thanongsak Simsri in November, fall through due to issues relating to covid. He managed to make his most recent appearance in March 2021, when he beat Axel Aragon Vega in 4 rounds. The plan was to get him back out in the ring later that same year but injuries saw his return being delayed, and delayed, to the point where he had now been out of the ring for well over a year.
In the ring Kyoguchi is a strong, powerful, aggressive fighter who combines the traits of a boxer-puncher with those of an intelligent pressure fighter. He comes forward, he applies pressure behind a stiff jab, and although he's not the quickest with his feet his pressure is smart and effective. He cuts the ring off well and forces his fight on opponents. Notably he is not the sort of fighter who needs to take control early on, instead building his success as fights go on, as we saw notably against Budler who started really well before being broken down in the second half of the fight. As well as his pressure style he's also a heavy handed boxer, with a great variety of shots and solid stamina, having been 12 rounds 5 times. He uses a lot of his amateur pedigree when he needs to but also has the explosive combinations and power on the inside that appear to be inspired by Roman Gonzalez, who he has stated is one of his favourite fighters.
Whilst Kyoguchi has been a fixture at world level for several years the same can't be said of Bermudez. The Mexican 26 year old debuted back in 2013, aged 17, and won his first 6 bouts before having a technical draw to end his winning run. Following that draw he tested the water at difference weights, and in 2015 suffered his first loss, when he was stopped inside a round by Francisco Perez Cardenas. That loss was quickly followed by his second loss, a decision loss at the hands of Gilberto Parra. He then began a small bounce back, scoring a notable win over former WBC world champion Oswaldo Novoa in 2019 before the pandemic slowed his rise, keeping him out of the ring for a year. Unfortunately on his return he was beaten again, losing a decision to Rosendo Hugo Guarneros. With a 13-3-2 (9) he was given a shot at WBA "regular" champion Carlos Canizales in May 2021 and was expected to be the next victim of Canizales' power however Bermudez shocked the boxing world and stopped Canizales to claim the title. He has, however, been out of the ring since that bout, giving him a lay off of over a year, and has had a bit of a stop start year, with planned bouts being cancelled which could have affected his hunger, desire and training for this bout.
In the ring Bermudez looks like a big guy at 108lbs. He has long levers, and looks a bit of a physical freak making weight. He's very rough around the edges, his shots often look like he's pushing them and he falls short. He's not crisp, or clean, or accurate and he's defensively not the smarted. He is however a powerful guy and even his cuffing slow shots appear to have real venom in them. His power is the scary type of power that makes his opponents scared of him, overly respectful, and wary. He does a lot of things wrong, but with his power, his reach and his willingness to commit to big shots he is a nightmare to fight. We saw those tools force Canizales on to the backfoot, where he is less effective, and we expect him trying to do the same to Kyoguchi here.
Although a big favourite Kyoguchi will need to be really, really cautious here. Especially given his inactivity in recent years. He has the skills and the tools to deal with Bermudez, especially with his body shots and combinations in the pocket, but at mid-range and longer distance Bermudez will have consistent success and will get Kyoguchi's respect. For Kyoguchi to win he needs to get inside, he needs to stop Bermudez getting full leverage on his shots and he needs to grind down the challenger. It's not going to be an easy task, but it's one he has the skills to do.
We expect to see Bermudez have real success early on, maybe even wobbling Kyoguchi in the first few rounds. As the bout goes on however Kyoguchi will begin to shake his ring rust, settling into the task at hand and begin to break down Bermudez in a scintillating bout.
Prediction - TKO10 Kyoguchi
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.