One of the rarer feats in boxing, especially with men, is for a fighter to drop in weight and have success. We regularly see fighters out growing divisions and moving up, but very, very rarely do they come down and manage to make a mark. It does happen, with Sung Kil Moon being a notable example and the current Bantamweight run of Nonito Donaire, but it is very rare.
Today we saw one fighter trying to do that, and come up short, as former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) [木村翔] challenged WBA Light Flyweight "regular" champion Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17), and lost a clear decision.
At the weight in things looked good for Kimura, who appeared to make weight with ease, but making weight and being 100% fit to fight your fight are different things and that showed with Kimura lacking his trademark late fight stamina and work rate.
Early on it looked good for Kimura, who was employing the tactics we'd come to expect. He was applying pressure, using a high guard and pressing forward. Canizales was forced to work super hard to create space, using a lot of foot work to make room for his shots and to prevent Kimura from getting inside and using his strength and weight. It seemed the perfect gameplan from Kimura, playing the long game.
Canizales boxing and moving saw him taking the first 4 rounds, as many would have expected, though he was taking the odd heavy blow to the mid-section, which again seemed to suit the obvious game plan of Kimura. Make Canizales work, and take his wheels away. That lead to Kimura having success in round 5, a round that was clearly his, and some some success in round 6. Sadly for his success in the sixth he was rocked on the bell, and it seemed like Canizales then got his second wind, whilst Kimura began to slow. This was the point where Kimura was supposed to come on strong, as he had done in previous bouts, but instead he looked heavy legged, zapped of his hunger and energy.
As we went through the later rounds Canizales began to using Kimura's slowing tempo to his advantage and conserve his own energy, moving less and and picking his spots more conservatively. It was a smart game plan, and compensated for a potential late charge form Kimura, a late charge that never really came.
Kimura managed to have some moments in the final rounds, but they were few and far between, his foot work was as if he was going through lead, his punches were incredibly slow and his pressure was almost completely ineffective. Things weren't helped by accidental fouls, which caused breaks in the action, breaking up any momentum Kimura could get.
Instead of being the stronger man, it was Kimura who was actually the man being hurt, especially at the end of round 11 as Canizales launched one of his most eye catching assaults with Kimura pinned in a corner.
To his credit Kimura never stopped trying, fighting hard in round 12, a round that saw both men looking spent, but ended in thrilling fashion with both throwing hayemakers.
It was a brave effort from the Aoki gym fighter, but it was a performance that lacked his usual energy, his well known late charge and his typical fire. The move down in weight may have seemed easy, but in reality it had a price and that price was paid by taking some of Kimura best assets away from him.
As for Canizales it was another brilliant performance from him, building on his 2018 wins over Reiya Konishi and Lu Bin, and it seems almost certain that he will return to Asia for a bout for the WBA "super" title, currently held by Hiroto Kyoguchi, at some point down the line. His performance can't be downplayed by Kimura coming down in weight. If Canizales fought anyone else in the division the way he fought today, there is a very real chance he's have beaten them as well.
We love to see fighters chasing history, and records. Sadly this morning history wasn't to be made as China's Lu Bin (1-1, 1) [呂斌] failed in his attempt to claim the WBA Light Flyweight title, as he took on hard hitting champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) and came up short, despite an impressive performance.
The opening round saw both men come out swinging, and looking to land big shots. The stances of the two men, with Bin being a southpaw and Canizales being orthodox, seemed to cause both men issues connecting in the first 3 minutes. The second round saw both men having more success, with both finding spaces for their power shots, and landing them. Neither man seemed hurt at any point but it was clear that Bin had the more technically correct foot work whilst Canizales looked like the more aggressive fighter with the more damaging power.
The two continued to trade shots in round 3, but by then it was clear that Canizales was the stronger more physical fighter and he was able to back up Bin with ease. His pressure seemed to give Bin fits and despite Bin landing some solid left hands to the body he was taking significantly more shots than he was landing himself.
Canizales would continue to build momentum through rounds 4, 5 and 6 as his pressure was doing damage round after round. Bin was competitive but out muscled by Canizales who seemed to cut the ring off very easily, and find a home for both his straight right hand, his ramrod jab and his left hook. The success of the champion was only really slowed in round 7 as Bin began to use some excellent lateral moment, as he out boxed Canizales and then forced the champion onto the back foot. The same tactics were used by Bin in round 8 and for the first 2 minutes Bin looked in the ascendency. Sadly a hard right hand from Canizales hurt Bin who seemed to have his confidence broken by the shot and went into survival mode for what remained of the round.
The power of Canizales them seemed more potent in every subsequent round. He badly hurt Bin in round 10, dropped him in round 11, with Bin using the ropes to keep himself up right, and continued to pile on the pressure. Sadly for Bin he was looking like a beaten man going into the final round and Canizales seemed determined to chase the stoppage, dropping Bin with a series of hard right hand with only seconds of the bout left. Bin got to his feet but the referee had seen enough, with a second of the bout remaining the bout was stopped.
Bin chased history and was forced to pay as he felt the power from Canizales over, and over, and over. The bout will act as a learning experience for the former amateur standout, though it may come at a serious cost as this ended up being a damaging and painful defeat. For Canizales the win was a great opportunity to raise his profile to a world wide audience, and he will he gained a lot of new fans, who may not have seen his title winning performance against Reiya Konishi earlier this year.
The Light Flyweight division is probably the most over-looked in the sport today, but has been consistently delivering over the last few years. Today it delivered again with messy, wild, intense and thoroughly compelling war for the WBA “regular” title.
The bout in question saw former Japanese Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi (15-1, 5) battle against hard hitting Venezuelan Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) in what was a massively entertaining contest.
The bout started with Canizales looking the boss, and enjoying a very good first round before Konishi's pressure and work rate came in to play and he appeared to take round 2. The most decisive round of the fight was the third, and it was a huge one for Canizales, as he dropped the Japanese man with a right hand, and came close to forcing a stoppage as he landed right hand after right hand. Konish seemed to have no way of dealing with the power or physicality of Canizales and the bout was looking unlikely to go long given how damaged Konishi looked.
Surprisingly Konishi didn't just make his way through round 4, but actually won the round as his pressure and work rate made Canizales look uncomfortable. The body work from the Japanese man appeared to have an effect with Canizales almost running away at times and looking negative, uncomfortable and some how like the weaker puncher. Through the middle rounds Konishi continued to build on his success, snowballing his offense through the middle rounds as he made up for the torrid round 3 and looked to be on his way to taking a decision, with Canizales looking tired and worn out.
In round 8 Canizales began to find his rhythm again, it wasn't as aggressive as he'd been in round 3 but with Konishi beginning to slow Canizales managed to catch the eye of the judges again and land solid single shots. Konishi, to his credit, refused to back off, but he seemed unable to get as close as he had from rounds 4 to 7, and Canizales was able to get his crisper work off.
After a few, very close, rounds, the bout was hanging by a thread as we entered the championship rounds. This is where the bout changed, rather than Konishi being on the front foot and chasing Canizales the two men began to spend large swathes of time in center ring, brawling in a phone booth. The action wasn't the prettiest but it was incredible, with both just taking it in turns to let their shots go, and both connected. It looked, in some ways, as if Canizales knew he had to change how he was fighting and it made for 2 amazing rounds to end the fight.
Given the good start for Canizales, the mid fight surge from Konishi and the competitive latter stages the decision was always going to be a tight one, though it did feel like Konishi had done just enough with his work rate and pressure. Sadly it wasn't to be with the judges all scoring the close bout to Canizales, with scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111. The closest of those cards could well have been right, though a score of 116-111 for Canizales does perhaps need to be questioned, as it didn't seem particularly accurate.
The win for Canizales will likely set up a Japan return and potential rematch with Ryoichi Taguchi, with who he has previously drawn against. For Konishi another world title fight is likely around the corner, and he showed that he belonged at this level.
Over the last few years we have seen Japanese gym Watanabe almost crumble with all of their most established fighters either retiring or suffering notable defeats. The gym, which boasted 3 world champions this time last year, has sadly been hit by loss after loss after their president, Hitoshi Watanabe, became the leading figure at the JPBA.
Today they narrowly escaped another notable loss as WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-2, 11) [田口 良一] just retained his title with a split decision draw against little known Venezuelan Carlos Canizales (16-0-1, 13).
Taguchi had entered the bout as the clear betting favourite, in fact it seemed that almost everyone had viewed the bout as a foregone conclusion despite Canizales warning that Taguchi had picked the wrong opponent. Canizales looked to prove that from the off as he attacked the champion from the opening round and established that he wasn't there to make up the numbers and was a real threat as he kept pressing forward and quickly backed up Taguchi.
Taguchi tried to turn things around but couldn't halt the march of Canizales in the early stages and every time Taguchi had any success Canizales swarmed him, preventing taguchi from every really getting any momentum.
The good start from the challenger couldn't be kept up, especially at the rate he was firing off shots, and in the middle rounds he began to slow, letting Taguchi have more success and claw his way back into the bout with some notable body shots. In round 8 Taguchi finally had a break through, with the crowd cheering him loudly and driving him on to turn things around, with the champion building on his success in round 9 with his jab landing on the face of the challenger.
In round 10 it seemed like Taguchi was finally starting to break down the challenger but he was unable to drop, or seriously hurt, Canizales who saw out the final two rounds with clinching and other spoiling tactics, likely feeling that his work early in the fight had been enough for him to take home the win.
At the final bell the scores were announced at 116-112, 112-116 and 114-114 giving us a split draw that both men will feel frustrated about, especially the challenger who seemed to cruise through some of the latter rounds rather than go for the finish
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.