By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Newly crowned WBO flyweight champ Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9 KOs), 112, retained his belt as he kept boring in, bloodied ex-Olympian Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-3-3, 12 KOs), 112, and scored a well-received TKO at 2:34 of the ninth round on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan. Having upset two-time Olympic champ Shiming Zou to capture the WBO belt in Shanghai last July, Kimura successfully scored his first defense over the more experienced mandatory challenger.

Igarashi, recently a frequent bleeder from his scar tissues, had red ribbon streaming from a cut over the left eyebrow in the third and from another over the right optic in the sixth. He was forced to go on fighting in a bloody mess. Kimura, 29, recklessly kept going forward with roundhouse shots, while Igarashi, 33, only kept circling and retreating without throwing effective punches to the onrushing champ.

Kimura showed his best in the eighth, when he caught the fading challenger with wild left hooks and looping right hooks to have him retreating to the ropes. The fatal ninth saw Kimura fully open his engine and batter him to the ropes with a flurry of punches, when the referee Katsuhiko Nakamura (Japan) wisely waved it off to save the loser. Prior to the stoppage, the official tallies were lopsided: Adalaide Bird (US) 80-72, Luis Ruiz (Puerto Rico) and Takeshi Shimakawa (Japan) both 79-73, all in favor of the defending champ.

Igarashi was a sole representative in boxing from Japan for the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. He turned professional in Teiken Gym, the oldest stable here which has produced many champions, in 2006. The fast-handed southpaw once nicknamed “Supersonic” wrested the WBC flyweight belt by outspeeding and outfighting Filipino Sonny Boy Jaro and defended it against Argentine Nestor Narvaes, the younger brother of Omar, in 2012. But he, in his second defense, yielded it to a veteran compatriot with a fluctuating career Akira Yaegashi by an upset verdict 2013. He apparently made a mistake as he failed to utilize his potential speed on hand and foot but too recklessly swapped punches toe-to-toe only to be outpunched by the much shorter Yaegashi. Since then, four years and eight months passed for Igarashi to enter the squared circle in order to regain the world throne this time.

Sho Kimura, less talented than Igarashi on amateur credentials, began to learn boxing at the age of fifteen and only briefly boxed some contests in high school. He resumed boxing at 22, when he tasted a bitter defeat, a first round knockout by Shosuke Oji in his pro debut in 2013. Since then, Sho kept winning including a couple of draws. Technically not so superb, nor so power-punching, Kimura was only one of those club fighters. But his manager/trainer Masayuki Ariyoshi of Aoki Gym opened a way for Sho to acquire the vacant WBO Asia Pacific flyweight belt by eking out a majority decision over compatriot Masahiro Sakamoto in November of the previous year.

Rated by the WBO, Kimura was fortunately given an opportunity to face Chinese hero Shiming Zou with his WBO 112-pound belt on the line this July. Before his departure for Shanghai no one in Japan expected him to bring back the world belt by dethroning such a formidable champ as Zou, two-time Olympic gold medalist. But so did he. Trailing on points (94-96, 93-97 for Zou and 96-94 for Kimura), Sho made a do-or-die attack to the fading champ, desperately battered the Chinese and finally wore him down en route to an eleventh-round TKO loss. He’s truly a Cinderella man.

Even after his unexpected coronation Sho lives alone in a small apartment, works to deliver liquor from 7 AM to 3 PM and then regularly train at the Aoki Gym afterward.

The man who gave him only a defeat, Shosuke Oji (who retired after one pro fight with Kimura), was a southpaw. Kimura wasn’t good at fighting a southpaw opponent. After he decided to fight the southpaw mandatory challenger Igarashi, Kimura went abroad to train at Hong Kong and Thailand, where he had some 300 sparring sessions exclusively with southpaw partners. His efforts paid off well.

The badly bleeding and crestfallen loser Igarashi declared a farewell to boxing after this bitter defeat, saying, “I’m happy to be able to fight for the world championship in the end of my career. I already decided before the fight that I’ll hang up gloves if beaten.”

Boxing is sometimes a miniature of life. A year ago Sho Kimura was never expected to be a world champion, but once he took an opportunity in Shanghai, he opened the door for fame and fortune by himself. Having defeated a couple of excellent Olympians Zou and Igarashi, he thus became a different person with good confidence in himself.



Full Report: Kimura stops Olympian Igarashi


Photos: Rafael Soto / Zanfer –

WBA/WBO flyweight world champion Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada (33-2, 24 KOs) scored an impressive and dominating knockdown-filled tenth round KO over determined challenger Hernan “Tyson” Marquez (39-6-1, 28 KOs) in a grudge match at the Centro De Convenciones in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico. Estrada knocked down Marquez twice in round six, twice more in round seven, once round nine, and twice in round ten before the bout was finally stopped. Time was 1:16.

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Photos: Zanfer Promotions

WBA/WBO flyweight champion Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada (27-2, 20 KOs) scored an eleventh round TKO over former world champion Giovani “Guerrero Azteca” Segura (32-4-1, 28 KOs) on Saturday night at the Arena Mexico in Mexico City. Estrada’s reach, movement and crisp combinations paid dividends as he largely neutralized Segura’s pressure and dominated the fight. The bout was stopped in round eleven to save Segura from further punishment. Time was 1:33.

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Date:  Saturday, April 26, 2014

WBO/WBA Flyweight Championship Title

Location:  Centro Convenciones, Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico

Promoter:  Promociones Zanfer

Supervisor:  Rudy Paz

Referee:  Celestino Ruiz

Judges:  Adalaide Byrd, Ignacio Robles, Alex Marin

Results:   Champion Juan Francisco Estrada retains the WBO Flyweight Title over Richie Mepranum, after he retired in the 9th round (RTD).

Juan Francisco Estrada  was born in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico.  He lost his parents at the age of 7, making his childhood difficult though he was raised by his loving aunt.  He matured at an early age and was boxing by his 9th birthday. Once the boxing gloves were on his fists, he never took them off, with an innate realization that someday he’d be a professional and he’d make history in Mexican boxing.  When he was 15 years old he moved to Hermosillo, Sonora, to concentrate on his boxing career, successfully representing his state on regional and national tournaments and nationally. Out of 98 amateur bouts, he successfully won 94 fights, while winning national championships four times.  He was becoming a shining star.

At 18 years old, he turned professional, still carrying his alias “El Gallo”.  In Hermosillo, he has a large following due to his charisma, humility and professionalism.

“El Gallo’s” first loss was against Juan Carlos Sanchez, Jr., current IBF Jr. Bantamweight Champion, by unanimous decision in an 8th round bout.  He captures the attention of the boxing world with a first round double knockdown and a second round KO of Filipino, Ardin Diale, during the bout held in Hermosillo, Mexico. After this great performance he went to California to unsuccessfully face Ramon Gonzalez (WBA Jr. Flyweight) for a lower division title, losing by unanimous decision.

After this loss, he returns to the flyweight division.  This is when a World Title opportunity presented itself against World Champion Brian “Hawaian Punch” Viloria in a Historical event in Macao, China on April 6th 2013. He wrote history when he won by split decision becoming the WBO/WBA Flyweight Champion at only 22 years of age.