Kimura stops ex-Olympian Igarashi, keeps WBO 112lb belt

By Joe Koizumi

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 made his first defense over the more experienced mandatory challenger. Igarashi, a frequent bleeder, began to bleed 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 with a bloody face. 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 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.

(More to come)

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