If there is one thing we need to thank DAZN for it's shining a light on the Light Flyweight division, which continues to deliver some of the best action we're getting. That was shown again this evening when Japanese legend Katsunari Takayama (32-9-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] made his US debut and challenged WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto (19-1, 13) in a thrilling bout that saw Takayama get a chance to shine in the bright lights of the US.
It was a chance that was sadly ended in disappointment, not just with a loss, but also on the back of one of the worst stoppages we've seen in years, thanks to the often controversial Laurence Cole.
In the opening Takayama looked out of his depth. He was rocked repeatedly when Soto landed, anything clean, and it seemed as if the 37 year old legend was showing his age and the fact he wasn't a natural Light Flyweight. Soto seemed nailed on for an early stoppage win and Takayama really looked like his long career had taken it's toll on him. The challenger barely made it through the round. He was hurt again in round 2 and it seemed like Soto really was too big, too strong, too powerful and too young for Takayama.
What few were aware of however was just how fucking tough Takayama is. He refused to go down. He refused to give in and instead he fought his fight. He took it to Soto, he set a high tempo and challenged Soto to go with him. Soto failed to do that, as Takayama out worked him, out landed him and out boxed him at times. Sadly nothing Takayama landed seemed to do anything to Soto, who landed significantly less but landed much heavier shots, which caught the eye more than Takayama's lighter, quicker shots.
In round 4 Takayama started to really claw his way into the contest. Soto was doing much less than he had earlier in the bout, and Takayama was starting to grind away at Soto's body with some sustained body attacks. It seemed like, after a nighmare start, the momentum was shifting. That continued to shift in round 5 as Soto began to look tired, and was backing up. Soto on the back foot looked much less effective than he had earlier in the bout, and it seemed clearthat he was starting to feel the tempo.
Having seen Takayama build his way back into the bout Soto knew he had to take some of the wind out of Takayama's sailsand he did just that at the end of round 6 as he again rocked Takayama, as he landed huge right hands and a brutal uppercut. Takayama, foolishly, held his feet and tried to trade with the much bigger Soto, and it didn't work. He was just lucky the bell came when it did, as he looked about read to go.
After looking a beaten man at the end of round 6 Takayama came out for round 7 some how looking revitalised, and again out worked Soto, unleashing quick sharp combinations and really grinding Soto's body. It was an astonishing bounce back round from Takayama after the way he had ended the previous round.
The pace for the first 7 rounds had been high, frantic almost at times. In round 8 things chnaged, and the tempo dropped off, massively. This saw Soto doing very little, and Takayama picking his moments better. It was a breather for both the fans and the fighters before we moved into round 9.
The 9th round saw Takayama looking to up the pace, setting his tempo early on, and backing Soto up. Soto looked genuinely tired. That was until he managed to dig deep and land a rare combination on Takayama who walked through some huge shots trying to land his own blows. Soto continued to land in an exchange before the referee, stepped in and waved off the bout, stopping Takayama in a baffling decision that made little sense. Takayama had been significantly more hurt earlier on, he had been landing, and hadn't gone down or had his legs shaken like he had earlier on. It was a terrible stoppage that really looked like the referee had no idea of what he was doing.
Following the stoppage, which saw Sean Gibbons give an expletive to the crowd regarding the decision, Takayama took his moment to play to the crowd, basking in the moment and the opportunity to embrace himself to fans who had been won over by his heart and determination.
This is probably Takayama's last bout and the reality is that he had his opportunity taken from him by a terrible decision from the referee. Regardless he got a chance to shine on the big stage and prove to a wider audience what he can do, and why he's been one of the true favourites of hardcore fans during his great career. If this is, as expected, his last bout we want to say thank "Lightning Kid" for giving us so many fantastic fights through the years.
As for Soto this was probably the nightmare situation for him. The result, a TKO9, does little to cover up a performance that will leave the other champion licking their lips. Soto looked predictable, very low in terms of output, and like he could be out worked, out boxed and even out fought by some of the others. The likely plan is for him to face WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi next but on this performance Kyoguchi would have a field day with him, Likewise Kenshiro Teraji would also be jumping at the chance to face Soto. That's not to say Soto's a bad fighter, but his flaws are evident and he's not yet the fighter he will become. In two or three years Soto will be a better fighter, but for now he's a champion with a lot to prove, and this performance will leave many with more questions than answers.
As for Cole the sooner he's out of boxing the better.
Just moments ago fight fans in Japan had the chance to see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10) make his 8th successful defense, as he rugged defeated Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada (34-11-2, 20) in what was a very, very entertaining contest at the EDION Arena Osaka.
The opening round saw some interesting action, with Hisada being his usual, come forward self and Kenshiro looking to scout what the local favourite had to offer. It wasn't a particularly busy round, but was one that seemed to be very competitive. In round 2 we started to see the difference between the two men, with Hisada being all about will and effort, and Kenshiro being about skill, timing, and ring craft. The jab of Kenshiro's was beginning to slow, and he was starting to control the distance, whilst also hammering some huge right hands up top. One of those rights hands dropped Hisada, sending the challenger down for one of the very few times in his career.
Despite being dropped Hisada's will to win wasn't dented and he recovered well, fighting back hard at the end of the round and having a solid bounce back round in round 3, as he pressed more intently. That pressure did come at a cost, but it was a solid round after beind dropped. Sadly for Hisada he kept finding the same problems. When he had success Kenshiro came back and had more, every good eye catching flurry of Hisada's was followed by some eye catchign moments of Kenshiro's, and the jab of Kenshiro was giving him the ability to control the action as and when he needed.
After 4 rounds the open scoring kicked in for the first time, and the scores were 38-37, twice and 40-35, all in favour of Kenshiro
Through the middle rounds the action really intensified. Hisada was having more moments. He was gritting his teeth and making things tough for Kenshiro. He was winning the rounds, but he making Kenshiro work for them. What was particularly eye catching from Hisada was how often he managed to land right hands, putting Kenshiro on the back foot, albeit temporarily, and it would have been interesting to see how a younger, sharper, fighter would have capitalised on those moments. As for Hisada, he followed Kenshiro when they happened, before the champion regrouped and punished him.
Rounds 5 and 6 were genuinely fantastic with their back and forth action, however they both seemed to be rounds where Kenshiro's extra class and natural ability were the difference maker. His ability to turn the tide with a clean, accurate combination, or a burst of body shots, meant he always seemed in control, even with Hisada was having success. these rounds, along with rounds 7 and 8, were fought at mid range with a very high tempo and they made for some exhilarating action, with their back and forth. The action was exciting, the tempo was high and the quality was also great, particularly with Kenshiro's body shots.
Talking about body shots, they were particularly notable in the second half of the fight, with Kenshiro drilling Hisada's mid section with some massive right hands to the body. Hisada some how took them with out flinching, but they seemed to take the steam out of the challenger in rounds 9 and 10. He was still there, but the incessant pressure we have typically seen from him was only shown in glimpses. He was failing to turn the fight into his fight, he was struggling to land with any consistency, and he was unable to step the tide, which had seen Kenshiro in a very comfortable lead when the open scoring was announced early in round 9. For those curious the scores were 78-73, twice, and 79-72 all in favour of Kenshiro.
Despite looking like his 36 year old body was feeling the intensity through much of the middle portion of the fight Hisada really bit down on his gumshield and found some real reserves of energy in round 11 as he tried to take the fight to Kenshiro once again. Despite the effort he was again coming off second best, and seemed to be hurt late in the round from a body shot. Despite that Kenshiro didn't jump on his man, and Hisada sucked it up before being tagged by some solid right hands again from Kenshiro. It was really impressive stuff from both, with Kenshiro landing some really top level stuff and Hisada showing incredible toughness and will.
That will from Hisada came roaring out in round 12, in what may end up being the final round of Hisada's career. He set the pace, he dictated the tempo and he really refused to back down from a fight. Kenshiro continued to out class him, out skill him, and out box him, but there was no faulting Hisada's desire, as he walked through some massive right hands from the champion. Hisada's toughness saw him begin to force a brilliant sequence of trading in the final moments of the bout, but he couldn't hurt the champion who still remained so energetic right to the bell.
After 12 rounds the final scorecards were 119-108 and 118-109, twice, all in favour of the champion.
After having his arm raised Kenshiro broke into tears whilst being interviewed. It was clear the last 12 months or so have been hard on him mentally and it almost seemed like the win was a step towards redeeming himself. As for Hisada he left the ring to loud cheers and it was clear the fans were hugely supportive of his efforts. He had been the man they had cheered on through out the bout and it was obvious that they had been there to support the local man.
For Kenshiro this was a fine outing. He took a clear decision, over a hungry challenger, got 12 rounds after well over a year out of the ring, and managed to expunge some of the memories of 2020. He did however show some defensive flaws and it's clear he and his team will work on those when he's back in the gym.
As for Hisada, if this is the end he can hold his head up high. He gave a great performance, and whilst he was a very clear loser, the scores don't do his effort any justice, despite being fair scores. He's now 36, time is ticking on his career, but he has managed to achieve a lot more than many may have anticipated for a fighter with double digit losses and is clearly a hugely popular boxing son in Osaka.
Sadly the bout, which was a genuinely good, solid and exciting one, was also a nightmare for fans outside of Japan to watch. Cantere Doga, who streamed the bout, made things awfully difficult for fans to access the service, and it seemed like the bout would have made a lot, lot more sense for Shinsei to have streamed on YouTube. If KTV wanted to back the fight, which is fair to assume given they put it on Cantere Doga, then it would have made more sense to televise it than to stream it behind a paywall. For those who already use the Cantere Doga service this was a nice bonus, but for the other boxing fans out there this was a poor choice from the distributor of the bout.
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.
It might take a long time for WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 1o) [拳四朗] to become a true star, but he's already got a growing cult following, and today he recorded his 7th defense of his world title, as he stopped Filipino challenger Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23) in 4 rounds.
The first round saw little happen. The little that did happen was almost all from Kenshiro's jab as the two men took their time to figure each other out. The second saw the pace step up, with Petalcorin beginning to take risks, but he really had a couple of flash points of success, whilst Kenshiro found the round to land his jab quite regularly. It wasn't as clear cut as the opening round, but felt like the fight was finally starting.
Sadly for Petalcorin the success he had in round 2 didn't carry on into round 3, despite Petalcorin landing the right hook and neutralising Kenshiro's jab. That just meant Kenshiro had to bring another weapon out of his arsenal, and began to rely on his body shots. They were killer and he dropped Petalcorin 3 times in round 3 from body shots. Petalcorin's heart couldn't be questioned, but he clearly couldn't handle the blows to the mid section, and they do stay with a fighter.
Despite suffering a 10-6 round in round 3 Petalcorin came out for round 4 with ambition. It was as if he knew it was now or never. Petalcorin's aggression saw him forcing Kenshiro to back off at the start of the round. It wasn't long however until Kenshiro re-established distance, composed himself and went back to banging the drum. Another knockdown, again from body shots. This time Petalcorin didn't beat the count.
It's unclear what is next for the "Amazing boy" though it would seem likely that he would again pursue a world title unification bout, something that was supposed to happen today until a bout IBF champion Felix Alvarado fell through due to illness. As for Petalcorin it seems clear that he simply doesn't have it at world level, and after today's loss every opponent will target his mid-section.
Late last night in the US we saw a WBO Light Flyweight title fight, as Mexican champion Elwin Soto (16-1, 11) made his first defense, narrowly defeating Filipino challenger Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5) in a genuine nail biting.
Soto seemed to take the first round, in what was a pretty even back and forth. The Mexican champion seemed to land the better punches and make the most of his defenses, neutralising the challenger's attacks. The champion also had success in the second round, as his power and speed let him take control.
The bout shifted in round 3, when Heno began to build on the bits of success he had had earlier in the bout. Heno was also helped by a slightly lucky call that saw the referee score a knockdown in his favour, even though it seemed like a less than legitimate punch and more like a push. That knockdown, whilst perhaps not the most legal of shots, did secure Heno a 10 round and began a real surge from the Filipino, who began to find the range and timing for his uppercuts. Heno seemed to take the 4th, closely, before building right through the middle of the fight and getting ahead of steam.
By the start of round 8 it seemed the Filipino was in control, though that began the next momentum shift, with Soto having a good round 8 and a big round 9. The champion was turning the bout around with big body shots, that were sapping the movement and energy from Heno. The Filipino gritted his teeth and fought back, going through some hell in round 10 as Soto's pressure began to tell, and took him through the championship rounds. The Mexican's work rate in the final round was incredible, as he seemed to know he had to put on a big finish.
In the end it felt incredibly finely balanced, and had been compelling through out. Despite being competitive, and another Light Flyweight thriller, it seemed Soto had just edged it, and that proved to be the case on the scorecards with the judges scoring it 114-113 and 115-112, twice, all in favour of the Mexican.
What we saw really was a bout that swung one way, than another. It was Soto early, Heno through the middle and Soto late. The bout showed up what makes each fighter great, with the power and will to win of Soto going up against the more refined skills of Heno, but Heno's stamina played a major part in his loss and showed something he needs to work on going forward.
A rematch, down the line, would be great and both of these men are legitimate world class talents in a division full of world class fighters.
A great bout and both fighters had the chance, and took that chance, to increase their standing and profile in the sport. Fans should be more than happy to see both men and follow both going forward. This was great and another show case of how good the little men can be.
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.
For us the Light Flyweight division has been the best in the sport for the last few years. It's had great fighters passing through it, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, and right now has so much depth to it that we really could do a WBSS style tournament with 8 fighters and not have a clear weak link involved.
Today we saw one of the divisions' top stars showing what he can do, with unbeatenWBC champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] succesfully defending against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22). Not only did Kenshiro retain his title, but he went he did so by stopping the feared Filipino puncher, who had never previously been stopped.
The champion, making his 6th defense, looked relaxed from the off, and showed his sharp punching, his movement and his ring craft straight away. He was able to find a home for his jab almost immediately and controlled the hard hitting challenger with his movement and straight and straight punching. As a thunder punching southpaw Taconing seemed to pose questions that Kenshiro hadn't yet seen, though it appeared that the Japanese fighter immediately solved every question Taconing could ask.
The Filipino showed ambition, came forward, and looked like he had some determination to make the most of his third world title fight, but was just made to look like a rather crude novice against the smooth, sharp and intelligent champion.
Having won the opening round Kenshiro was actually under a bit of pressure in round 2 as the challenger looked to turn things around. Taconing came out really aggressively for the round, but he was struggling to land and was being force fed clean shots by the champion who found a home for some classy blows, including an eye catching uppercut.
Although Taconing continued to be aggressive in round 3 Kenshiro began to move through the gears, landing more straight right hands, timing Taconing, and even holding his feet with the hard hitting challenger, who was becoming incredibly desperate and wild. That wildness lead to a clash of heads in round 3 that resulted in Taconing being cut on his forehead, in what was a genuine accidental clash. Despite it being an accident Kenshiro was deducted a point, as per the WBC's accidental foul rule, resulting in a 9-9 round.
The point deduction didn't play any part in the outcome of the bout however and in round 4 Kenshiro's accurate punching and fantastic timing gave us an early finish. Taconing was still firing off big, wild, reckless bombs, and about 40 seconds into the round he ate a huge counter right hand, then a left immediately afterwards. Taconing crashed face first to the canvas, and although he got to his feet he was glassy eyed and wobbly, forcing the referee to wave off the action and give the champion his latest win.
It's unclear what is next for the champion, though it is worth noting that WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi was ringside for the bout, and the two men have spoken about unifying, leaving the mouth watering possibility that they will indeed clash in December, s has been rumoured for much of 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.
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.
To end a super busy weekend of fights attention turned to the Portopia Hotel in Kobe as Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] challenged hard hitting IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30).
The bout, which had no live TV coverage, promised a lot. Whilst the TV coverage lacked it was streamed via the team of Konishi's and proved to be a genuinely compelling contest, from start to end, with Alvarado's power punching going up against Konishi's physical strength and toughness. It wasn't the all out war we were expecting, but it sure was an engaging, and thrilling contest.
From the opening round it was clear neither man was there just to pick up a pay cheque, with Konishi pressing forward, trying to smother the power of Alvarado, whilst the Champion found room to get his shots off. Konishi, to his credit, got plenty off himself in the early stages, often forcing Alvarado backwards and unleashing flurries of shots to head and body, but it was the blows of Alvarado that caught the eye, especially his uppercuts as Konish came in with his head down.
Konishi's best moments came in the middle rounds, as he landed most of his best work, stopped Alvarado from creating the space here needed to get full extension on his shots. By smothering Alvarado's power shots and pushing him backwards Konishi had real success, and left the Nicaraguan looking a little bit like a bully. It did however come at a cost, and the energy that Konishi had to use, and the shots he took in return for his success, were apparent in the later rounds.
The final third of the bout was Alvarado's best. Konishi had slowed, his work rate had dropped, and his ability to cut the distance effectively was waning. This allowed Alvarado the space he needed to land his thunderous power shots, and in rounds 10 and 11 he hurt Konishi, who was left wobbling and looking ready to go. Unfortunately for the Nicaraguan the bell came to give Konishi both times, but it was clear that Konishi was relying on his toughness by then, and his chance to turn things round had all but gone.
The brave and determined challenger managed to put up a really spirited effort in round 12, despite losing the round. It was clear he knew he'd lost but he'd put up a great effort against one of the hardest hitting champions in the sport.
After 12 rounds the judges had the bout a clear win for the Nicaraguan, with scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 116-112.
In a sign of real class Alvarado stayed with fans on his way backstage, bumping fists with the locals, taking pictures with kids and really spending a lot of time with those who had been cheering on Konishi. The fans however had clearly been won over by the champion, and it was great to see from both sides.
Sadly for Konishi this is the second time he has lost in a world title bout, and it might just be that whilst he is very good, and very strong, he isn't quite good enough to win a world title.
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.