By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten Japanese puncher, Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7 KOs), 105, successfully scored his initial defense of the newly acquired IBF 105-pound belt when he kept battering perennial top contender Carlos Buitrago (30-3-1-1NC, 17 KOs), 104, from the outset, often pinned him to the ropes with a fusillade of punches and finally halted him with the referee Roberto Ramirez Jr.’s intervention at 2:28 of the eighth round on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan.
Kyoguchi, a sturdy hard-puncher who dethroned Mexican Jose Argumedo this July, took the leadoff and maintained the pressure to the more experienced challenger, piling up points in every round. Kyoguchi showed his best in round six, when he exploded a big right to the face and forced him to the ropes with a barrage of punches to obviously weaken the Nicaraguan. Kyoguchi, two years his junior at 24 and formerly amateur boxer of Osaka Commercial University, accelerated his attack upstairs and downstairs to make it nearly lopsided as the contest progressed. Hiroto’s persistent body attacks were effective enough to have him slowing down, and when he kept whipping Buitrago midway in the seventh, the third man declared a well-received halt though there were no knockdowns before the stoppage.
Prior to the halt, all the judges—Cesar Ramos (Puerto Rico), Glen Hamada (US) and Francis Jackson (US) —had 70-63 for the defending champ, who they thought had swept all rounds by a 10-9 score.
The Nicaraguan was a highly respected challenger whose credentials showed his previous two setbacks were inflicted by the then WBA interim titlist Knockout CP Freshmart in the champion’s home turf Thailand in 2014 and 2016. Their first encounter was such a close affair that all the judges tallied a hairline score 115-113 in the Thailander’s favor, and some people described it as controversial. Buitrago drew once with Merlito Sabillo in quest of WBO 105-pound belt also in the defending champ’s home land Philippines in 2013. He had won all other fights than the aforementioned three competitions to prove his strength and superior career.
Buitrago occasionally attempted to counter the onrushing champ, but Kyoguchi’s hand speed and his right guard nullified the Nicaraguan’s game plan and effectively battered his breadbasket to have him slowing down. The veteran Carlos praised the younger champ, saying, “Though he is young and less experience as professional, he was much better in every part than I. He was technically very excellent, which I have to admire. I prepared well to fight him, but couldn’t fight as planned.”
The winner who showed his good improvement said, “I’m not satisfied with my showing as I wanted to score a knockdown. Buitrago was so tough and durable that I couldn’t penetrate his guard more effectively.”
Hiroto gained the world belt in just a year and three months after his professional debut—in his eighth bout. Though short at 5’3.5”, he has a big chest and strong neck as a 105-pounder. Also, he can fight both in the long and short ranges with his effective weapon of body punching. He may grow up to be a good champion.
Reviewing his career, Kyoguchi started to learn how to box at the age of thirteen at Osaka Teiken Gym, where he was influenced and sometimes coached by former WBC bantam champ Joichiro Tatsuyoshi whom Hiroto still deeply idolizes even now.