July 27, 2018


Believe it or not, WBO world flyweight champ Sho Kimura (17-1, 10 KOs), 111.6, is the most popular Japanese male athlete?the female being a cute and lovable table tennis player Ai Fukuhara (who speaks Chinese very fluently)?among a great many people (estimated more than 1.3 billion) in China thanks to his upset coronation over two-time Olympic gold medalist Shiming Zou a year ago. Kimura, under the option agreement with the Chinse promoter, engaged in his second defense in Qingdao (well-known for Chinafs most popular Qingdao beer), and successfully retained his WBO belt by demolishing hard-punching Filipino WBO#3 Froilan Saludar (28-3-1, 19 KOs), 111.2, with his trademark persistent attacks at 0:54 into the sixth round on Friday.

Boasting of his abundant and amazing stamina?which should be Kimurafs assets due to his tremendously hard training?the champ, 29 as old as the highly regarded challenger, displayed one of his best performance in dropping Saludar once in the fifth and again in the sixth and fatal stanza?each by a heavy body shot. Froilan fell to his knees to be unable to beat the count.

Saludarfs stock here in Japan had been very high because of his eye-catching first-round knockdown of Naoya gMonsterh Inouefs talented brother Takuma though the Filipino later hit the deck twice in rounds eight and nine, losing a hard-fought unanimous nod in September, 2016. Also there came a rumor that Froilan beat up IBF 115-pound ruler Jerwin Ancajas in sparring sessions prior to his departure for China.

Furthermore, his younger son Vic captured the WBO 105-pound belt by dethroning Japanfs Ryuya Yamanaka a couple of weeks ago. Plus, this month, three Filipino challengers already celebrated world coronations including Manny Pacquiao and Jhack Tepora (newly crowned WBA interim feather titlist). Simply, Philippine warriors are on the rise.

The first round saw Froilan start so well that he one-sidedly whipped the champ with a high peek-a-boo guard, who diligently kept advancing to probe the challengerfs strategy. All the judges tallied the first in Froilanfs favor. Kimura in round two, began to occasionally land strong body shots (which later prove effective enough to stop the challengerfs footwork), but Saludar was apparently more aggressive with fast and busy hands to the peek-a-boo stylist Kimura. Two of the judges also rendered the second to Saludar.

It seemed the tide turned in the champfs favor in round three, when Kimura accelerated his pressure and more positively kept going forward and attacking the bewildered challenger. From the third on all the judges never gave even a point to Saludar. It became Kimurafs night from the third on since he fully displayed his willingness and aggressiveness that fully embarrassed the fading challenger.

Saludar, probably due to his cornermanfs instruction, commenced using his footwork so busily in the fourth that he would avert mixing up with the energetic and efficient champion. Kimura, however, forcibly connected with body bombardments that obviously weakened the arm-weary Filipino.

More aggressive and more pugnacious, Kimura kept stalking the retreating Saludar in round five, when he finally caught him with a vicious left to the side of the belly, dropping him on all fours. Froilan barely beat the count and resumed fighting with the bell coming to his rescue.

The fatal sixth saw Kimura pin Saludar with a flurry of punches?a la Oscar De La Hoyafs incessant combinations to Fernando Vargas with his back to the ropes prior to the third manfs halt. Patiently and persistently stalking from pillar to post, the Japanese champ finally caught up with him and dug a heavy body shot to the liver of Froilan, who promptly fell in agony?for the count tolled by the referee Chris Flores (US) who handled the fast-moving small menfs fight well.

Before the trick happened, the judges had Kimura leading on points: Patricia Morse Jarman (US) 49-45, Benoit Roussel (Canada) and Surat Soikrachang (Thailand) both 48-46. Kimurafs strategy to have Froilan punching out in earlier rounds?planned by his manager/trainer Masayuki Ariyoshi?paid off very well. Ariyoshifs training method is to produce a non-stop punching machine with physical power such as his first world champ, female Momo Koseki who registered no less than seventeen defenses straight and retired undefeated to become a therapist this year. Kimura, always physically fit and mentally strong albeit he isnft technically excellent, displayed his real power against the dangerous challenger Saludar and stopped the continual world coronations of the Philippine Murderersf Row.

The winner Kimura said, gIfm proud of historically first defense as a Japanese world champ here in China. Saludar wasnft so hard a puncher as we had expected. My body shots deprived him of his speed and stamina, and our fight plan worked well.h

Two-division WBO champ and currently mandatory challenger to Kimura, unbeaten sensation in Nagoya, Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7 KOs) was in attendance with his manager/promoter, ex-WBC 122-pound champ who dethroned Argentine Pedro Decima and yielded his belt to Daniel Zaragoza?both in 1991. The Kimura-Tanaka confrontation will be a sensational attraction among Japanese fight fans, but Kimurafs tremendous physical power might be an important factor that Tanaka will have to highly respect and cautiously take care of.

In the semi-windup, unbeaten Thailander, Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7 KOs), 104.5, successfully kept his WBA minimumweight belt as he outscored Chinafs first professional world champ Chaozhong Xiong (27-8-1, 14 KOs) by a unanimous decision (116-112, 118-110 twice) over twelve.

Promoter: Liu Gangfs Max Power Promotions.

WBO supervisor: Leon Panoncillo (US).


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