Full Report: Kimura stops Olympian Igarashi

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

WBO champ Kimura to defend against Igarashi

WBO champ Kimura to defend against Igarashi

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.


WBO Championship Committee Resolution regarding the requests of Zou Xuan Sports of China on behalf of Zou Shiming

Photo Caption: SHANGHAI, CHINA – JULY 28: Chinese boxer Zou Shiming in action against Japanese boxer Sho Kimura during WBO Championship Defending Fight between Zou Shiming and Sho Kimura on July 28, 2017 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

WBO Championship Committee Resolution on the request of Zou Xuan Sports of China, on behalf of Zou Shiming against Sho Kimura regarding their July 28, 2017 WBO Flyweight Championship Bout
contested in Shanghai, China.

170918 Final Version Resolution Shiming v. Kimura Rule 18

Kimura dethrones Shiming with shock TKO

Photos: Sumio Yamada

Unheralded underdog Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 7 KOs) scored a stunning eleventh round TKO over WBO flyweight champion Zou Shiming (9-2, 2 KOs) on Friday night to claim the WBO belt at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China. 

Bleeding badly from a cut above the right eye, Kumura finally caught up with the fleet-footed Zou and battered him to the canvas with a barrage of punches. Zou staggered to his feet but was unable to continue. Time was 2:28. At the time of the stoppage, Zou was ahead 96-94, 97-93 on two cards. Kimura was ahead 96-94 on the third card.

This was Shiming’s first defense and first fight since bolting from promoter Top Rank and trainer Freddie Roach. Shiming promoted this card himself under his Zouxuan Sports banner.



Sho Kimura knocks out Zou Shiming to claim WBO crown

 L-Brico Santig, R-Sho Kimura photo by Brico Santig

Sho Kimura scored a massive upset when he knocks out former olympian and China’s only boxing world champion Zou Shiming in eleventh round to claim the WBO world flyweight title in Shanghai China.

Kimura improves his record to 15 wins with 8 knockouts , 2 draws and 1 defeat while Shiming drops to 9 wins with 2 defeats.

Kimura became the third Japanese world champion at flyweight (112 pounds) along WBA champion Kazuto Ioka and WBC champion Daigo Higa.



07/28/2017 Shiming Zou vs. Sho Kimura

Date:  Friday – July 28, 2017


Location:  Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai, China

Promoter:  Zou Xuan Sport & Culture Development Co. LTD

Supervisor:  Leon Panoncillo, Jr.

Referee:   Danrex Tapdasan

Judges:   Robert Hoyle  96-94,  Edward Ligas  93-97, Sawaeng Thaweekoon  94-96

Results:  The WBO Flyweight Championship Title was won by Sho Kimura.  Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 7 KOs) scored a stunning eleventh round TKO over WBO flyweight champion Zou Shiming (9-2, 2 KOs) to claim the WBO belt against Zou Shiming by KO at the 11th round.


Photos: Zou Shiming, Sho Kimura – Face To Face at Final Presser

By Unus Alladin

Remember the original Rocky movie? The scene when Apollo Creed is busy wheeling and dealing over his desk and one of his trainers, intrigued by Balboa punching cow carcasses on the TV news report remarks: “You better see this. He means business” by which Creed angrily retorts: “No, I mean business!”

The movie, as we all know, is one of Hollywood’s beloved fictional sports movies, but it seems the scene is being played out in real life in Shanghai where China’s golden boy, Zou Shiming, is preparing to make his first WBO world title defence.

Creed narrowly won his first fight against Rocky by points – he lost the title to Rocky in Rocky II – but the movie depicted Creed as a boxing entrepreneur, who underestimated his opponent.

Zou is the two-time Olympic gold medallist turned professional fighter, turned professional flyweight champion and he treads into unknown territory after he made the announcement this year that he was going to be his own man and promote his own fight as he steps into the ring for the 11th time on July 28.

Zou raised eyebrows by refusing to renew his contract with US promoters Top Rank, who helped him make the transition from top amateur to leading professional in less than four years. But Top Rank will, this time, not help the 36-year-old Zou in any shape or form – nor will his long-time Chinese sports agent and marketing partner, Seca.

Zou will do it alone and that could backfire, as Seca boss Li Sheng suggested recently. “I think he’s making a big mistake,” Li said. “He made the decision to promote the fight by himself with his wife [Ran Yingying]. If he wants to become his own promoter, that’s his own choice. He made the decision after he won the world title last November.”

Zou, who is also the three-time amateur world champion, might know a thing or two about fighting but promoting is not his forte and it will be a whole new ball game for the Zunyi-born fighter. Promotion is a tough business. Sponsors must be found, fighters have to be paid and tickets have to be sold to make the event a success. A weak undercard is not going to help, too. Since Zou is putting up his own money to promote his own title defence, expenses are going to run up.

Fighters are usually wary about whether they are going to get paid. There have been many cases of unscrupulous promoters taking the money and running. Without a reputable name like Top Rank behind him, it’s going to be a slog for the now entrepreneurial mainlander.

Zou takes on Japan’s seventh-ranked Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7 KOs) at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre but the mainlander could find himself in a vulnerable position this time.

Alisports, which is part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is helping Zou as a partner to promote the event but the boxer they call “Fists of Gold” needed a lot of help – from Hong Kong of all places – with Rex Tso’s manager, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, helping him find suitable sparring partners to be flown to Shanghai.

“It was significant that I won the belt in Las Vegas, the boxing temple. I want to bring this glory and passion, as well as the boxing culture, to China,” said Zou in an interview with Agence France-Presse this week.

“I know this business back to front: not just the training, but also their minds, their injuries, their illness and their promotion,” he said.

In the past, everything was arranged for Zou – his training, his purse and promotion – but this time, he will have do things himself, something he has no experience in.

There are rumours Zou doesn’t even have a proper coach and his preparations haven’t been going too smoothly although Zou insisted he will be ready to defend his title.

Without the services of Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, who oversaw Zou’s previous 10 bouts, plus all the modern facilities that were at his disposal in the United States before, Zou could be reverting back to his amateur days … and that’s risky.

Underestimating Kimura, who Hong Kong fans know well, having seen the Japanese knock out his last opponent on the undercard of the Rex Tso-Hirofumi Mukai fight in March, could prove disastrous.

What if Zou loses? Can he fill Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre? Could he end up losing money?

Zou says he is trying to build up the sport and boxing in China. But in essence, he is promoting his own event so that he can earn a much larger slice of the pie.

Nothing wrong with that with a family to feed but if things don’t go well for him and he loses, it will make it that much harder for him to get another world title shot now that he is 36.

It will be interesting to see how Zou fares in Shanghai and whether going alone turns out to be the right decision for him or a bad idea that could spell disaster to his career.


Photos: Zou Shiming, Sho Kimura Make Weight For Battle

By Unus Alladin

Chinese star Zou Shiming will be fighting for a larger piece of the pie as a boxer turned promoter, while Japanese underdog Sho Kimura will be fighting in his late mother’s honour in Friday night’s eagerly anticipated WBO flyweight title fight in Shanghai.

Zou recently turned to promoting his own fight after severing links with American promoter Top Rank last year and he will be out to make a good start to this new phase of his career in his first defence of the world title he won in Las Vegas last November.

But Kimura (14-1-2, 7 KOs) warned he will be highly motivated – driven by a desire to honour his mother who died at the age of 44 as he was growing up. He said her passing had motivated him to “train harder than before”. The 28-year-old Tokyo-based fighter also said winning was the only way to “get out of poverty” and live a “financially stable life”.

“I come from a poor family. I can’t even afford a new pair of training shoes,” said Kimura, who spent weeks in Thailand to prepare for the fight at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre. Zou tipped the scales at 111.9 pounds, while Kimura was a little lighter at 111.6 pounds, well within the 112-pound limit at Thursday’s official weigh-in.

“Zou Shiming will find out that it’s not going to be easy to beat me. I come from Japan and we are tough warriors. Zou is well known in China, but I can be well known and famous if I beat him. I must take this opportunity and win. Once I start, I am not going to stop until I win. The crowd might get behind Zou, but that’s going to motivate me even more,” he said.

Kimura spoke about growing up in poverty and his struggles to make ends meet.

“I have been struggling all my life. I have been using the same gloves for years and I can’t buy a new pair. The gloves I am wearing are still good even though they are worn out. I do part-time work in a restaurant where I help the restaurant deliver [crates of] beer. If I win this bout, I will quit that job,” said Kimura, who lost his first professional fight in 2013 but has been on an unbeaten streak since.

“I’m going to win this belt and take it home and put it on my mother’s grave. When I won the WBO Asia Pacific flyweight title [last November in Osaka] I put my belt on my mother’s grave. But this one is for the world championship. This one is much more prestigious,” he said.

Kimura is known to Hong Kong fans as he was on the undercard of the Rex Tso vs Hirofumi Mukai clash in March. The Japanese won that fight in a second-round knockout against Thailand’s Wisitsak Saiwaewk.

However, the 36-year-old Zou (9-1-0, 2 KOs) was extremely confident of winning his latest fight, saying he won’t allow the belt to leave China.

“I won this belt in America [Las Vegas] last year. It’s staying here. It’s not going anywhere,” said the two-time Olympic gold medallist as he showed off his belt. “I have never lost to a Japanese opponent [in amateur fights] before. This time, the result will be the same. Kimura might be eight years younger than me, but I will speak with my fists. I will teach the younger boxer a good lesson.”


Shiming, Kimura make weight

Photos: Sumio Yamada

Zou Shiming 111.9 vs. Sho Kimura 111.5
(WBO world flyweight title)

Dong Chaoqun 160 vs. Sunil Khokhar 159
Sun Bohao 121 vs. Sithsaithong Lapkatok 121.5
Aming Buhe 140 vs. Bima Prakosa 140
Yan Jie 160 vs. Joe Corner 160
Chen Zubiao 114 vs. Anuj Singh 116

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai, China
Promoter: Zou Shiming