By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Sumio Yamada
The third man means a referee in boxing terminology, but WBO flyweight champ Sho Kimura was the third champ whose participation in the New Year’s Eve tripleheader was announced last—separately on Tuesday. Kimura (15-1-2, 8 KOs) scored an upset to wrest the WBO belt from two-time Olympic gold medalist Shiming Zou in Shanghai this July, and will make his initial defense against top contender Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3, 12 KOs), former WBC 112-pound titlist and also ex-Olympian, along with the title defenses of Ryoichi Taguchi and Hiroto Kyoguchi.
Zou claimed a direct rematch with Kimura to the WBO, but his request was turned down and Kimura decided to face the compatriot Igarashi, four years his senior at 33. It will be a competitive encounter of the aggressive champ and the skillful southpaw speedster. Since both are durable and determined, the combat will probably go the distance, which may be good for the TBS television that may prefer a longer drawing of TV audience’s attention.