Just moments ago we saw WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (15-0, 10) [京口 紘人] make his US debut in a spectacular bout against diminutive Mexican challenger Axel Aragon Vega (14-4-1, 8). It was a fight that was thrilling, exciting, and yet sadly anti-climactic.
From the opening minute this was a great fight with the two men willingly engaging in close quarter combat. There was no real feeling out process here as they quickly got to work on the inside and let shots go with their heads against each other. The first round was great with both men having success up close. It seemed both men were happy to fight toe to toe and both tried to instill their will.
In round 2 they continued to fight in the trenches and it seemed like diminutive Vega got the better of things, though it was a hotly contested round with both landing uppercuts and hooks through out the round. The action and intensity that both fought at gave us one of the best rounds of 2021 so far and it seemed to set the stage for something special.
The pace started to slow down in round 3 though, as Kyoguchi began to use his jab more and create more space. It was still a very good round for Vega, but a round that seemed to show there was more to Kyoguchi's arsenal than just the inside fighting, which seemed to be Vega's only option. Sadly by this point the awful DAZN commentary had picked it's side and essentially ignored anything Kyoguchi did, though that was no surprise from a commentary team that have consistently been dire.
In round 4 the jab of Kyoguchi, which had been coming into effect in round 3, became a bigger weapon for him. Vega was still aggressive, but was being kept at range more often, and when he did get inside Kyoguchi was holding his own, landing some lovely clean uppercuts. Vega was very lively through the round, but seemed to be getting figured out, and slowing, and his face was also reddening from the headshots he was taking.
Through 4 rounds it was close. A score of 3-1 either way, or 2-2 was very reasonable, and it felt like they could end up trading blows on the inside at any moment. It seemed like one of those fights where both men were well matched, and where action could pick up at a moments notice. Sadly however in round 5 Vega ended up suffering a nasty injury when he tagged Kyoguchi. The injury instantly left him in pain and whilst he backed off in agony Kyoguchi rushed in looking to close the show, soon afterwards the referee jumped in, waving off the bout and stopping Vega.
It was horrible way for the bout to end, a truly anti-climactic ending to the bout, which had been thrilling. It wasn't the ending either man wanted. But it was a TKO win for Kyoguchi, who becomes one of the very, very few Japanese fighters to retain a world title on US soil.
It's expected that Kyoguchi's next defense will be about against unbeaten Thai puncher Thanongsak Simsri, who he was supposed to fight late last year before needing to cancel the bout due to testing positive for Covid19, before a potential return Stateside later in the year.
A win here was important for Kyoguchi, and the performance will have left fans wanting more from him, though the way he got the win was certainly not the most compelling. Fingers crossed his next bout shown in the West will let fans really see what he's got in the locker.
The Light Flyweight division might be almost ignored in Western boxing media, but it continues to deliver amazing fights, as we saw today from Osaka thanks to MBS.
The bout in question saw Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] successfully retain his WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles with a decision win over fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20) [久田 哲也]. But simply saying Kyoguchi won a decision doesn't do the fight, or the fighters justice for what was a fantastic 12 round contest that saw both men show their will to win, and saw both men being hurt in what was a truly pulsating, action packed, violent and exciting war.
The bout began with Kyoguchi looking too crisp and sharp, winning the first round with his consistency over the 3 minutes, but Hisada held his own and proved he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. In round 2 we had real drama as Hisada's right hand, which landed a couple of times through the round, twice to seemed to worry the champion, at one point staggering him across the ring. Hisada tried to jump on the hurt Kyoguchi, but the champion put up the ear muffs and saw out the trouble, though was fully aware that Hisada was a dangerous challenger. Not only had Hisada landed solid right hands, but was finding a home for uppercuts as well.
Hisada was put on the back foot in round 3, but again had success, especially up close where his uppercuts again came into play. Kyoguchi's jab and right hand did catch the eye more often, but Hisada wasn't being over-whelmed, and instead fought back, trying to play his part in every exchange. The following round the challenger began to find more space and worked whilst Kyoguchi followed him around. It was another good round for the challenger, and the crowd responded by getting getting behind him with a "Hisada" chant. Despite both men being from Osaka originally it did feel like the crowd were behind the under-dog, who was exceeding expectations.
Despite Hisada's uppercuts catching the eye in the first half of the fight Kyoguchi had been putting money in the bank with solid body shots through out, and those shots paid dividends in the middle rounds as Hisada began to slow. The challenger still had heart, and in round 6 he showed that by finishing the round big, but his moments were coming in isolation, whilst Kyoguchi's successes seemed to be more consistent and pronounced. Surprisingly however it was Kyoguchi who seemed to be wearing his damage more, with the entire left side of his face turning red, a result of the right hands Hisada was landing.
In round 8 it was clear that Kyoguchi had more to offer than he was showing, and he spent much of the round skipping around on his toes, landing big shots and making Hisada look his age. This was where the body shots from early really showed, and Hisada was looking tired, whilst Kyoguchi looked full of energy. Despite slowing Hisada wasn't going to roll over, and in round 9 he came out with gusto, pressing Kyoguchi early in the round, before being punished for his ambition, and being dropped. Although he was quick to his feet he seemed buzzed and Kyoguchi went for the finish, pressing through the 9th round, and landing huge power shots time and time again. It was a credit to Hisada's toughness and will to win that he survived the round.
Despite being in all sorts of trouble in round 9 Hisada gritted his teeth, bit down on his gum shield and fought and inside, toe to toe war in rounds 10 and 11. Again Kyoguchi was getting the better of it overall, but the action was incredible, with both men trading shots on the inside, trying to match each other punch for punch. It favoured Kyoguchi, was quicker, sharp and heavier handed but it made for awe inspiring action as the two fighters just tried to beat each other up. The champion's shot just seemed to much more eye catching, and the two he landed at the end of round 11 were stunning, it was hard to understand how the challenger was staying up at times. It was all action at that point.
In the final round it seemed very much like Kyoguchi was sent out to play safe. It seemed he was in comfortable control on the cards, he had to be up and by quite some margin. Rather than trading he got on his feet, moving around the ring, whilst Hisada threw bombs, looking for the home run punch. That punch never came and in the end it was clear Kyoguchi had done enough to retain his title.
After 12 rounds we went to the socrecards with the judging turning scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. Whilst the bout was, overall, competitive on a round by round basis, it always felt like Kyoguchi was the clear winner. He was winning the exchanges and doing that bit more overall. Despite that Hisada can hold his head high, he out did what fans had expected.
Whilst Kyoguchi took the win he knew he was in a fight, and his left eye was swollen shut at the final bell. Ideas of unification are still on his mind, but he really needs to tidy up before getting in there with another champion, who could make him pay. As for Hisada, this is probably the curtain call for his career, but he deserves to much credit for his effort and for playing his part in a fantastic bout.
Earlier today fight fans in Japan had the chance to see WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) [京口 紘人] make his first defense, as he over-come Thai challenger Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5), aka Tanawat Nakoon.
On paper the bout looked interesting, with two unbeaten men clashing for the titles. In reality however it was expected to be a mismatch, with the Thai stepping up massively to face a 2-weight world champion, in what was Satanmuanglek's first bout outside of Thailand. Surprisingly though it was neither a mismatch, not a hugely competitive one. Though it was a solid one, with plenty of action, some really good rounds, and some interesting back and forth.
The bout started with Kyoguchi on the front foot, applying pressure and forcing the Thai backwards, as was expected. Satanmuanglek showed, however, that he was a smart fighter, someone who had learned a few things from his long and illustrious Muay Thai background. He managed to neutralise a lot of the pressure that Kyoguchi applied, and although he did get dragged into Kyoguchi's fight at times, including round 2, he managed to have moments of his own, especially at range.
Kyoguchi, who had been expected to be be on the front foot and breaking down Satanmuanglek, did make the Thai's job a little easier, often standing off and not quite showing the intensity and work rate we've come to expected from the fighter from the Watanabe gym. When Kyoguchi did put his foot on the gas he looked excellent, destructive, and exciting, though had to contend with the toughness, smartness and defensive skills of Satanmuanglek, who took the best Kyoguchi had to offer and never looked close to going down.
Whilst the Thai was showing his ring craft, his toughness and his ability to dictate the distance, he did struggle to get Kyoguchi's respect. He was more of a bothersome foe, than a true threat, his punches that landed did little to really hurt the champion, but the champion clearly felt them, hence his lack of all out aggression. When the champion did pick up his work rate the Thai dropped his, notably in the second half with round 10 being a particularly good one for Kyoguchi, but Satanmuanglek would bounce back the following round showing that he was still there, and wasn't going away.
After 12 rounds there was no doubting the winner, with the judges scoring the bout 117-111, 117-111 and 117-112 all in favour of Kyoguchi, but if we're being honest the champion didn't shine as expected, whilst the Thai showed he id a good fighter. Our guess is that, in the future, this win will age well, and Satanmuanglk will bounce back very well with a potential wold title around his waist in the future.
The Light Flyweight division is one of the most interesting right now and today we saw interesting changing of the guard as the WBA Light Flyweight "Super" title was ripped from the hands of South African Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10) by Japanese sensation Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人], who became the first man to score a stoppage over Budler.
From the opening round Kyoguchi pressured the champion. That pressure wasn't successful early on, with Budler countering well, and making Kyoguchi pay for his technical mistakes. It was however pressure that began to pay off as early as round 2, when Kyoguchi began to land on the body of the champion with regularity. That regularity seemed to take a toll on, even if Budler was himself landing plenty of solid blows of his own.
In round 3 Kyoguchi continued to find the body of Budler, and also found success with more and more headshots, Budler seemed to have felt the power of Kyoguchi and was less willing to take risks, but used his speed, reach and footwork well to fight at range, a range heeded to be out. Sadly for Budler round 4 was his last with any notable success, as he seemed to grit his teeth, sadly the body shots seemed to take away some of his movement and he was being given more and more punishment, being stung notably in the later stages of round 5. From then on it was essentially more and more dominant from Kyoguchi.
The shots from Budler sounded like they were slapping blows, rather than real punches, whilst Kyoguchi was digging in his shots, really trying to hurt the champion. Something he did visibly in round 7, to both head and body. The consistency of Kyoguchi's work seemed to be slowly beating the fight out of Budler who was taking an increasing amount of head shots as the bout went on, especially uppercuts to the head. Budler's legs were still their but they were no longer getting him out of danger.
By the end of round 9 it seemed less a case of whether Kyoguchi would win, and more a question of whether he would stop Budler, who had been beaten up, battered and taken a lot of punishment. That question was answered at the end of round 10, a round that had seen Budler really dig into his reserve of toughness. That toughness was too much, and he was pulled from the bout between rounds 10 and 11, with his corner deciding enough was enough.
Despite a competitive start Budler began to look like an old fighter by the middle rounds, a combination of the body shots from Kyoguchi and his long career. When that happened Kyoguchi just broke his man, round by round.
For Kyoguchi this wasn't an amazing performance, it was a solid one though, but it was a fantastic result as he became the first man to stop the South African veteran, and a 2-weight world champion in just 12 bouts! A potential unification fight with Kenshiro looks on the cards and would be a massive fight for Japanese boxing. This also saw him gain revenge for stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi, from whom Budler took the title from earlier this year.
Japan can be one of the best countries for boxing, with a huge number of outlets for fights, a very active scene across the country and some of the most exciting match ups we can see, both at world and domestic level. It can be very frustrating with television outlets not always being able to show the full show, and having so much delay footage. That issues reared it's head again today when TBS failed to broadcast the second defense of IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人], who had to get through some real adversity to over-come Filipino challenger Vince Paras (13-1, 11).
Despite the lack of TV coverage the bout was a cracking contest, with some early drama and the type of excitement that left fans in the arena clamouring to see both men back in action, not just their local champion.
In the build up to the bout Paras had come across as confident, like a man who had travelled with a purpose and wasn't worried about the powerful champion. He started the bout with a tight guard, looking for openings and opportunities to land his power left hook, with an opening in round 3 seeing him connect clean and dropping Kyoguchi. The knockdown was the first that the champion had suffered since turning professional and showed that Paras had the power to trouble the champion.
Kyoguchi bounced back the following round and was in the face of Paras with hard blows as the action heated up. The following round a clash of heads left Paras cut around the right eye and from then on it seemed like the Filipino began to a bit, whilst the champion began to build on his momentum, landing big combinations as we got further into the fight. Paras however showed his toughness and refused to go down.
The final round was a tough one for both fighters, with both men holding their feet and digging to the body. Though neither could put the other down.
In the end Kyoguchi, who showed impressive defense after the knockdown, ran out a clear winner on all 3 cards, taking the decision 117-110, but clearly was left knowing he had improvements to make.
After the bout Kyoguchi seemed to admit his legs were tired later in the fight and questions remain as to how much he is taking out of himself to make the 105lb limit, having had to drop a lot of weight yesterday. It also seems like the type of bout where both men will learn a lot, and fans in the crowd seemed impressed not only by the winner, but also the loser, who at 19 looks a real talent and will certainly come again.
One of the under-the-radar stories of 2017, from a Japanese perspective, has been that of Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) [京口 紘人]. The Watanabe youngster won the IBF Minimumweight title earlier this year, in a lacklustre bout against Jose Argumedo, having previously won the OPBF title even earlier in the year. Today he continued his rise as he became the first man to stop talented Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (30-3-1-1, 17) in an unexpectedly one-sided contest.
The bout, screened live on Canal 4 in Nicaragua, saw Buitrago starting well, applying his pressure and taking the fight to he challenger. Buitrago, to his credit, fought back but seemed unable to ever get Kyoguichi's respect with the champion closing the space the space between the two very easily. At close range Buitrago had some success, but lacked the power to do the damage that the champion was doing, as he began to chip away at the challenger with heavy hooks and uppercuts.
By round 4 Buitrago was clearly showing signs of slowing down, his eyes swelling and his output dropping whilst Kyoguchi was looking like a steam train, coming forward no matter what was being thrown in his direction. The pressure continued to tell and round by round Buitrago was becoming more and more negative, backing up on to the ropes and throwing “stay away” punches, rather than anything with serious intent.
By the end of round 6 it began to look like the referee was looking for a chance to stop the bout, but every time it seemed like he was going to Buitrago would have a spurt of action, throw back and make Kyoguchi momentarily back off. It wasn't that the challenger could ever hurt the champion, even clean right hands seemed to bounce off him, but it was enough to show life to the referee.
Sadly for Buitrago that fight just left him taking more punishment and in round 8, after several shots snapped his head back, the referee stepped in for the mercy stoppage. Buitrago was still throwing back at the time, but it was a stoppage that few would have complained with.
Having only debuted in April 2016 Kyoguchi's rise to champion has been incredible. This year he has gone 4-0 (2) claimed a regional and world title, defending both belts once, and has been one of the unheralded stars of 2017. He has answered questions regarding his chin, stamina and ability and in 2018 he's going to be a monster of a champion, who perhaps has his eyes on winning a title at 108lbs or unification.
For Buitrago the bout is a clear sign that he needs to give up fighting at Minmumweight. He had had persistent rumours about weight struggles coming in to the bout and now needs to move up and try to resurrect his career at Light Flyweight, before taking too many beatings like this.
Japanese prospects rising through the ranks quickly seems to be the thing at the moment, and there has been a string of super talented Japanese youngsters racing through the rankings and claiming world titles after just a handful of fights. The latest Japanese fighter to do just that was Minimumweight Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) [京口 紘人], who claimed the IBF Minimumweight title earlier today, dethroning Jose Argumedo (20-4-1, 12). The youngster may have had more fights than some of the other Japanese youngsters who have raced to titles, but he had been a professional for just 15 months leading into this bout.
The bout promised a lot. Both are aggressive fighters, both have power and both have been in some entertaining bouts so far. It seemed in the first round that we were set for something a bit special as the two men stayed close, and let their shots off, with both landing some pretty solid and eye catching shots. By the end of the round though it seemed like Argumedo, who had spoke about a war at the signing ceremony, had felt the power of Kyoguchi and didn't want to taste too much of it using a lot of movement to avoid a fire fight.
The movement of Argumedo's continued in round 2, with Kyoguchi struggling to pin his man down, though he did land some eye catching body shots. The movement seemed to frustrate Kyoguchi, but came at an expense in regards to the power Argumedo could land with himself. In round 3 Argumedo decided to change tactic again, looking to land bombs, that came with with the problem of missing and being countered. His solution to that was to smother Kyoguchi, which became a problem through much of the bout, with the action descending into a slop fest of holding, hugging, rabbit punches and leaning on each other.
Argumedo got back on the move in round 4, with Kyoguchi fighting conservatively. Although holding back the Japanese fighter landed a number of body shots, in an attempt to stop Argumedo from hitting and holding, and a huge right hand upstairs that that again showed the danger that he possess. Argumedo ended up trying to throw the kitchen sink at Kyoguchi, but the accuracy simply wasn't there.
Rounds 5 and 6 were nothing short of messy wrestling rounds, with the clean punches kept to a minimum. It was becoming hard to watch, and hard to score. Argumedo had success with his jab, and his right hand, occasionally, whilst Kyoguchi looked to land body shots. It seemed however that both were rushing their work, throwing out of range and generally boxing like idiots, rather than two world class fighters.
Despite the messy action it seemed like both did have the fire power to hurt the other, and that proved to be the case in round 7, when a head shot shoot up Argumedo, who was clearly hurt and lucky that the shot came so late in the round as he began to eat some very hard body shots, and finished the round with a cut on the nose. Frustratingly Kyoguchi failed to build on the previous round, and round 8 was another sloppy round, with Kyoguchi's frustrations boiling over as he pushed Argumedo over. The following round saw Kyoguchi finally have a break through, badly hurting Argumedo and then sending him down legitimately with a follow up to secure a big 10 round, and had the round been 30 seconds longer he may well have closed the show.
Having got his nose into the lead Kyoguchi seemed to let Argumedo off the hook, and round 10 saw both men swing wildly and miss repeatedly in a round that began to sum up just how poor the fight had been. Had either man connected we could have seen the fight turn into something brilliant, but it seemed like neither had the composure, that late on, to really set up their work.
In the final round the mess just got messier, with both being tired, losing their balance, and Kyoguchi going down 3 times, from a combination of tiredness, pushing and balance issues, in what was a very ugly finish to a fight that promised a lot but failed to deliver.
At the end of 12 rounds the scores cards were read out, 116-111, twice, and 115-112, all in favour of Kyoguchi who became the new champion.
The fight wasn't the best showing of Kyoguchi, or of Argumedo in fairness. They styles should have gelled, but they never did, and instead of a FOTY contender we ended up with a really forgettable mess that will be remembered for Kyoguchi claiming a world title, just 15 months after his debut. And very few will go back and watch this one a second time.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
World Title Results
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