By Carlos Costa
Knockout artist IBF light flyweight world champion Felix Alvarado -- the Nicaraguan striker who overpowered Filipino Randy Petalcorin last October at the Midas Hotel in Manila, Philippines -- has been penciled in to make the first defense of his red & golden belt against IBF's highest-ranked challenger Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7 KO's) on Sunday, May 19 in the challenger's hometown, the seaside city of Kobe in Hy?go Prefecture, Japan.
The IBF title clash was confirmed today by the champion's handler, Florida-based boxing manager William Ramírez, who already signed the fight contract with Konishi's representative, Japanese Hall of Famer promoter Akihiko Honda of the Teiken Promotions.
The news was echoed in Nicaragua by Alvarado's promoter Pablo Osuna and Los Angeles-based boxing reporter Bryan Saavedra, and the hard-hitting 108-pounder lion king has already begun training in his hometown of Managua, capital of the beautiful Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.
Alvarado, 30, will be trained by his experienced award-winning head coach Luis Ernesto Cortez, 73, a veteran man of boxing who used to work in the corner of Nicaraguan legendary champion Alexis Argüello.
Awarded as Nicaragua's "2018 Fighter of the Year," Alvarado (34-2, 30 KO's) will wage his second battle in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Five years ago as a world title challenger, Alvarado fought twelve tough chapters against then WBA 108 world champ Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13 KO's), losing by points in Osaka.
This time around as a world champion, the more matured Alvarado is the favorite to retain belt against the IBF # 3 Konishi, a laser-focused glory-hungry opponent who has already fought for a world title.
Indeed, in March of last year, Konishi fought twelve high tempo stanzas against undefeated hard-hitting Venezuelan Carlos Antonio Cañizales (21-0-1, 17 KO's) for the vacant WBA 108-pound strap, losing a unanimous decision in front of his hometown cheering crowd in Kobe.
The #AlvaradoKonishi IBF title fight in Kobe on May 19 will be broadcast live in Japan on Tokyo's WOWOW satellite TV station, and in Nicaragua on Canal 4, La Mejor Television.
The author Carlos Costa from Panama is a fight reporter based in Cebu, Philippines. Carlos can be reached by email: [email protected] or WhatsApp/Viber +639184538152.