Japanese Scene: John-Kimura in May, Kato defends title, Tsuchiya returns with KO

Shoji Kimura celebrates after upsetting Ryol Li Lee in January. Photo courtesy of Bushido Boxing.

Sidney Boquiren has the latest boxing news from Japan (more after the jump). For more Japanese boxing updates, you can follow Sidney on twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter

Shoji Kimura to fight Chris John on May 5

Shoji Kimura has parlayed an upset over Ryol Li Lee into a shot at WBA Featherweight Super Champion Chris John (46-0-2, 22KO). The 34-year old former national super bantamweight beltholder, 29-4-2 (9KO), had all but officially retired when he took the ring on January 14 to face Lee. Despite a twenty month sabbatical from the square circle, Kimura looked fairly sharp in edging the former world champ by scores of 97-95, 96-95, 95-96.

Kimura will be making his second attempt at a world title. He was overwhelmed in his first shot, succumbing to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym in four.

Though Kimura showed good defensive skills and accurate counterpunching against Lee, he is no better than the predominantly mediocre list of challengers on which John has feasted in rolling up fifteen title defenses.

John vs. Kimura is scheduled for May 5 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Kato bests Kondo in rematch to defend 130lb crown

Back in 2009, Yoshitaka Kato was selected as the opponent for Japanese lightweight strapholder Akihiro Kondo’s first title defense, losing a split decision over ten frames. On Tuesday, the roles would be reversed as Kato climbed in the ring as the champion and Kondo as the challenger. The fight would ironically end with another set of conflicting scores, this time with Kato winning a 97-94, 96-95, 94-97 split.

According to Nikkan Sports, Kondo came out of his corner at the initial gong boxing well as he worked from distance, disrupting the champ’s strategy. Finally getting his opponent to set his feet in the third round, Kato forced the former titleholder into a phone booth brawl. The remainder of the bout would be fought at close proximity, the combatants taking turns in edging the other for rounds. Though neither man was the clear victor, Kato would be awarded for being slightly more active and accurate.

With the win, Kato improved to 21-4-1 (5KO) while Kondo dropped to 16-3-1 (6KO).

Tsuchiya notches 1R KO victory in comeback

Tuesday’s card at Korakuen Hall also featured the return of much hyped prospect Shuhei Tsuchiya. The undefeated 25-year old had won all eleven of his pro appearances by stoppage and added number twelve on Tuesday, taking just over a minute and a half to send woeful Sawat Wor Surapol to the canvas. Overwhelming the debuting Thai fighter with quick jabs and one-twos from the start, Tsuchiya pounded Sawat into a corner with straight rights. Then, connecting with a hard right uppercut, the prospect would finish off Sawat with a flurry of punches.

Tsuchiya has been on the mend since last August, when he injured his left hand in the process of beating journeyman Hirohito Fukuhara. The youngster is the latest hard-punching undefeated prospect to gain the spotlight among Japanese boxing fans and media. An offensive monster with a background in kickboxing and karate, Tsuchiya can certainly inflict damage with his punches, but also tends to get hit as well. He’s fun to watch, but this writer does not expect much of him just yet.

Click here to see a portion of Tsuchiya’s fight with Fukuhara.

More boxing notes

  • Also on Tuesday’s card, former K-1 champion Kyotaro (2-0, 1KO) won his second fight since making the switch to boxing by stopping Korea’s Jae-Chan Kim in two frames.
  • Here’s video of bantamweight titleholder Ryosuke Iwasa’s performance last Saturday. Challenger Yuki Murai may have had an ugly record at 20-15-4 going into the fight, but he had never been stopped. Though Iwasa lost to Shinsuke Yamanaka last year, I still think he will be better than the current WBC champ in the long run.

e-mail Sidney Boquiren

For more coverage of Japanese boxing, follow Sidney on Twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter

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