By Jake Donovan
Barely three months after watching his countryman and prior conqueror lose the title on the road, Ganigan Lopez is bringing the World Boxing Council (WBC) title back home to Mexico.
The hard-luck contender finally prevailed on the title stage, outpointing Yu Kimura over 12 rounds Friday evening in Kyoto, Japan.
Lopez was a clear cut winner, yet had to settle for a majority decision in his first career fight outside of Mexico. Scores were 119-109, 118-108 and 114-114.
Neither fight was dropped, but Lopez was the aggressor throughout what served as his second title shot in eight months. His previous attempt came last July in a unanimous decision loss to Pedro Guevara, who in turn relinquished the title to Kimura in a major upset last November.
Guevara jumped out to a strong start but slowed just over the second half to allow two of the three judges to find a way to score against him. Lopez learned not only from his own title loss but also from the Kimura-Guevara, adjusting accordingly.
The things that worked for Kimura - both versus Guevara and early on versus Lopez - ultimately proved ineffective over the long haul. Lacking the power to keep his opponent at bay, the rookie champion went in looking for a boxing match but found himself in a fight.
Worse for the defending titlist was the point at which he found what he thought was work, in fact was not. As the WBC was at stake, open scoring was in use and revealed Lopez to be ahead by scores of 39-37 on all three scorecards.
Kimura was genuinely shocked by the scores, complaining to his corner as he firmly believed he was ahead. It appeared to have affected his performance from that point forward, while Lopez never eased up on his attack.
By round eight, Kimura developed massive swelling under his eye and had fallen behind to the point of no return on two of the three scorecards that read 79-73 in favor of the challenger. Surprisingly, the normally reliable Juan Carlos Pelayo - the lone judge from Mexico - saw the defending champion digging his way back into the fight, scoring the contest 77-75 Lopez through eight rounds.
Kimura would claim three of the final four rounds on that same scorecard to pull even at 114-114. It wasn't even close to the same fight witnessed by Cathy Leonard (119-109) and Gary Ritter (118-110) of the United States.
Lopez moves to 27-6 (16KOs), claiming a major title in his second try after having fallen short on this stage as well as previously attempting to get to this point. The 34-year old southpaw was a top strawweight contender for years until a knockout loss to countryman Denver Cuello in 2012.
From there came the decision to remain at junior flyweight, having bounced back and forth between the two weight classes for years. Five straight wins followed, including a 12-round nod over former strawweight champ Mario Rodriguez in Jan. '14.
The win streak put him in line for a crack at Guevara, dropping a competitive but clear decision in the defending titlist's hometown of Mazatlan, Mexico. It was Guevara's final successful defense before dropping a questionable decision to Kimura last November.
A mere 14 weeks later, Kimura's reign comes to an end as does his nine-fight win streak as he falls to 18-3-1 (3KOs).
The bout aired live on Nippon TV in Japan, serving as the chief support to Shinsuke Yamanaka's bantamweight title defense versus Liborio Solis.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox