On Friday night Florida played host to a world title fight, as WBO Light Flyweight champion Jonathan "Bomba" Gonzalez (26-3-1-1, 14) successfully defended his title for the first time, as he over-came the talented, but under-sized, Filipino challenger Mark Anthony Barriga (11-2, 2).
Early on the boxing skills of Barriga were on show, as he rocked Gonzalez in the opening round, and seemed to have the skills to out box the champion who looked surprisingly apprehensive at times, despite the fact that Barriga isn't a noted puncher. It was high level, high speed chess early on, with Barriga getting the better of it.
Sadly for the Filipino however as the bout went on his boxing skills proved not to be enough, and although he regularly backed Gonzalez up he couldn't ever pin him down, as the footwork and movement of Gonzalez kept him safe and allowed him to pot shot Barriga, who followed Gonzalez rather than cutting Gonzalez off.
Sadly for Barriga the later rounds did not go his way at all, as Gonzalez began to turn the screw in round 9. He became more aggressive, he was more willing to use his weight, size and try to bully Barriga around. That had success in tiring Barriga out, and left the Filipino more and more open to being caught by the heavier shots of Gonzalez, who could never land clean enough to Barriga, but was being outlanded by the champion who seemed to do enough to eek out a very close but fair victory.
After 12 rounds the judges turned in the scorecards. The first of those was 115-113 with the other two being 117-111. We thought the 117-111 scores were harsh, but it was clear that Gonzalez was the rightful winner, and he showed some nice touches here, but we do worry about him against the best at 108lbs, especially given how Barriga managed to hurt him early on and how he had to rely on his size to over-come Barriga, rather than his boxing. That will be a major issue against fighters like Hiroto Kyoguchi and Kenshiro Teraji, who are both strong and powerful Light Flyweights.
As for Barriga we'd love to see him return to his natural Minimumweight division, where he really can make a mark on the world level. Sadly at 108lbs he lacks the physicality and the power needed against the top fighters in the division, and it's a deep division as well meaning there isn't going to be an easy title for him to grab.
A good week for Japanese fighters continued earlier today as WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (16-0, 11) [京口 紘人] retained his title, and stopped "regular" champion Esteban Bermudez (14-4-2, 10 ) in a brutal beating in Mexico.
The bout, which seemed like a potentially dangerous one on paper for Kyoguchi, ended up being more of a showcase of his ability, and the ineptitude of the referee, who we really don't ever want to see again.
Kyoguchi started razor sharp, and by the end of the opening round he was using Bermudez's head for target practice, particularly with uppercuts which seemed like they couldn't miss. Bermudez was game, strong, big and tough, but he simple lacked the defenses needed to avoid the uppercuts from Kyoguchi, which landed time and time again. Those uppercuts took a toll in round 2, as he left his man bloodied, from what seemed like 4 or 5 cuts around the face. By the end of round 3 Bermudez was fighting through a crimson mask, and it seemed a stoppage was imminent with Bermudez game, tough but totally out classed.
Amazingly however Bermudez toughed it out, and began to have more success of his own in round 4, with a huge left hook late in the round certainly getting Kyoguchi's attention. He also managed to create some space, limiting the opportunities from Kyoguchi to land the uppercuts that had served him well early on. At range Bermudez was having success and Kyoguchi was slowing down, though was still landing huge right hands and getting the better of the action. The blood from Bermudez began to cover Kyoguchi in round 5, as the two men stood and traded blows, with headclashes happening as a result. In round 6 those headclashes saw the referee deduct a point from Kyoguchi, in what a rather harsh deduction given the headclashes were incidental from both men wanting to fight up close and personal. The point deduction almost became immaterial immediately as towards the end of the round Kyguchi detonated a huge right hand on Bermudez and followed it up, and it seemed like Brmudez was set to go down, but something kept him up.
Sadly for Kyoguchi the deduction in round 6 was followed by another in round 7 as he looked to put the Mexican down and was deducted a point for a rabbit shot as Bermudez touched down. This one was more understandable as a deduction, but seemed a heat of the moment combination rather than anything too malicious. It was by the end of the round however that Bermudez was tiring, and the round had also seen him get through a doctor's inspection on the cut, which seemed like it was making it incredibly hard for him to see shots, and avoid them.
Heading into round 8 Bermudez was bloodied, tiring, battered, beaten and breaking up. Kyoguchi knew it and set off looking for a finish in round 8. He was all over Bermudez from the bell and backed his man on the ropes, unloading shots until the referee finally stepped in and saved Bermudez, who probably should have been saved several shots earlier.
For Kyoguchi this was almost the perfect performance, despite clearly having the crowd against him and the referee, who really had a stinker with the first deduction and with the late stoppage. The "Mad Boy" didn't look at all rusty, despite more than a year out of action, and took out a dangerous, tough and powerful fighter in a fashion that was exciting and would certainly help win over fans.
As for Bermudez, it was clear he was levels below Kyoguchi, however we suspect he also won over fans on the back of this performance. He proved his toughness, his will to win and we would love to see more of him against contenders, perhaps someone like a Shokichi Iwata, a Hasanboy Dusmatov, or a the winner of the scheduled bout between Masamichi Yabuki and Thanongsak Simsri.
As for the division in general, this bout will spark more life into a division that has a lot of potential, but really now needs fights between the top, top names. Any combination of Kyoguchi, Kenshiro Teraji, Jonathan Gonzalez, Elwin Soto or Daniel Matellon, would be great to see later this year.
For those interested, the scores at the time of the stoppage were 66-65, 66-65 and 65-66, with the final one of those cards being nothing short of bizarre.
Last year Japanese boxing got a major upset as Masamichi Yabuki (13-4, 12) [佐藤政道] dethroned Kenshiro Teraji (19-1, 11) [寺地 拳四朗], and claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title in one of the major Japanese upsets of the year. Soon after the bout Kenshiro's team put the loss down to some headclashes that Kenshiro had suffered in round 9, and issues with training for the bout, with his preparations being hampered by the fact he and his trainer had contracted covid.
Today we get the much anticipated rematch between the two men and we got a bout that was very, very different. In fact we got a Kenshiro that was very different, as he came in with a seek and destroy mentality, and it was clear that he had a point to prove, to the fans, to himself and for everyone who has followed his career.
The first round saw Kenshiro pressing the action behind his jab, and trying to put his gameplan of pressure, activity and keeping Yabuki on the back foot, in to effect. Yabuki had moments in the first round, but it was, for the most part Kenshiro's jab and occassional right hand that controlled the round whilst Yabuki was forced to back up, and try to create space to land his own shots.
Round 2 saw Kenshiro move things up a gear and really take the fight to Yabuki, landing numerous right hands up top, and some eye catching body blow as he began to bully Yabuki around the ring. To his credit Yabuki did find some success with counter shots, but they were few and far between, and when he did land them, they had no real effect against Kenshiro who took them in his stride.
With Yabuki knowing the fight wasn't going his way he came out for round 3 with a new gameplan. Trying to fight Yabuki off, and holding his feet. This was a tactic that was short lived, and within only a few moments Yabuki was back on the back foot, and unable to stop the forward march of the former champion, who found a home for some body shots that backed Yabuki on to the ropes, where he took more body shots. When he finally got off the ropes and created space he left himself open for a huge right hand, that dropped Yabuki. The defending champion got to his feet, but was in not fit state to continue, with the referee waving off the bout.
The performance was a clear statement from Kenshiro, who was desperate to show he was the strongest, the best in the division and that the loss was a freak result. Whilst the loss will hang over him, it's fair to say on this performance not many at 108lbs could live with him, and that he's certainly in the mix to be regarded as the best at 108lbs.
Earlier today in Kyoto boxing got a notable upset as long reigning WBC Light Flyweight kingpin Kenshiro Teraji (17-1, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] was dethroned in his 9th defense by fellow Japanese fighter Masamichi Yabuki (13-3, 12) [佐藤政道].
On paper the bout seemed like a routine defense for Kenshiro, who many including ourselves viewed as the best at 108lbs. It was however a bout that had a lot of substories going into it, including the fact that the bout had been delayed by 12 days after Kenshiro contracted Covid19 in August, pushing the bout from September 10th to September 22nd.
The view, by Kenshiro and his team, was that he would have long enough to recover, and although his preparation was clearly damaged by the illness, he was still expected to be good enough and prepared enough to over-come the heavy handed, but flawed, Yabuki.
As it turned out however, that was a huge mistake by the defending champion, who never quite looked his usual sharp, self.
The first round saw Kenshiro showing some of his quality, but Yabuki was the one showing the more intelligent boxing, landing good counters and hard straight right hands through the opening stages. Kenshiro on the other hand pressed and used his jab, but was pretty ineffective with his his pressure. After 4 rounds we got the open scoring and the judges were not impressed by the come forward style of the defending champion, who was shut out on two of the scorecards, and even on the third. It was not the start he needed and not the start he wanted.
Through the middle rounds Kenshiro managed to find some success, raising the tempo in round 6, and landing some good 1-2's, but couldn't really distinguish himself from Yabuki, who seemed to have an answer for almost anything the champion did. This was again shown on the scorecards after 8 rounds, with Yabuki up 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75. Essentially Kenshiro was going into the final 4 rounds knowing he needed something big. At the very least he needed to win all 4 rounds to retain his title.
The champion attempted to turn the tables in round 9 but was left cut around the right eye from a straight right hand of Yabuki's, putting the champion in even more trouble than he had been in before the round started. He knew it and he knew he had 3 rounds to turn things around, and gave everything he had in round 10, however he couldn't take out the challenge who turned the tables late in the round and hurt Kenshiro, before tagging him against the ropes until the referee stepped in and saved him.
Following the bout Kenshiro was taken to hospital. His father attended the press conference and while he didn't blame Kenshiro's battle with Covid, he did state his son's condition wasn't the best, and did suggest that maybe his son had run out of atamina before the finish. The plan now is for Kenshiro to take a break, and then it seems like he will make a decision on his future.
As for Yabuki, he seemed really proud of his his performance and beating Kenshiro, though notable didn't seem like he was in a rush to take on a rematch, though didn't flat out rule it out. Notably he seemed to suggest that, had he lost, he may have retired here, which would have been a huge disappointment.
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.
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.