By Jake Donovan
Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales, lodged the second successful defense of his WBA “Regular” junior flyweight title, outpointing former flyweight titlist Sho Kimura over 12 rounds Sunday evening in Fuzhou, China.
Scores were 119-109 twice and 118-110 in favor of the well-traveled Canizales, who has fought on the road for each of his four title fights.
Japan’s Kimura returned to the junior flyweight division for the first time in nearly three years, dropping back down in weight after enjoying a 14-month flyweight title reign which ended in a 12-round loss to countryman Kosei Tanaka last September in the 2018 Fight of the Year. The hope was that the move down the scale would result in a power surge.
It could very well prove true down the road, but Canizales didn’t travel halfway around the world just to be bullied out of his title and undefeated status. The defending champ withstood an aggressive start by Kimura before thoroughly outworking his challenger.
Kimura’s plan of wearing down Canizales with body shots worked to a small degree, but also came with its severe shortcomings. The 30-year old Tokyo native—who was 4-0 in China, including three title fight wins prior to Sunday—was warned for an accidental low blow in round six, although his attack mode preceding and following the sequence suggested an adrenaline rush more so than an errant body shot.
Canizales shook off the foul and went to work in the second half. Heavy-handed combinations upstairs took its toll on Kimura, who was reduced to throwing one punch at a time while waiting for his foe to tire.
The moment finally came in the championship rounds, as Canizales’ punch output dramatically decreased. By that point, however, Kimura was also battling fatigue and couldn’t properly capitalize on the matter. He closed strong in round 12, but needed a home run more so than a winning three-minute sequence in order to prevail.
Kimura has now dropped two of his last three starts in falling to 18-3-2 (11KOs). The defeat was his first at junior flyweight since his pro debut, which lasted all of 75 seconds. He’s carved out a heck of a career since then, claiming wins over Shiming Zou and Toshiyuki Igarashi during an adventurous title reign.
Meanwhile, good fortunes continue to find Canizales who improves to 22-0-1 (17KOs). he squat 26-year old won the crown with a 12-round decision win over unbeaten Reiya Konishi last March in Japan, followed a 12th round stoppage of Bin Lu last July in Malaysia.
His lone non-win of career also came on the road, fighting to a 12-round draw with then-108 pound titlist Ryoichi Taguchi on New Year’s Eve 2016.
Another road trip could be in his future, as his “regular” title status puts him as the mandatory to the WBA “Super” title. With that, astute attention will be paid to the June 19 clash between Japan’s Hiroti Kyoguchi and Thailand’s Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart in a battle of unbeaten junior flyweights in in Chiba, Japan.
First, though, Canizales will return home to Venezuela if only to celebrate his latest win.
The bout aired live locally on CCTV-5 and also streamed live on the Facebook page of Golden Boy Promotions, whose featherweight titlist and China’s own Can Xu (17-2, 3KOs) halted Japan’s Shun Kubo (13-2, 9KOs) in the 6th round of the evening’s co-main event.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox