Hiroto Kyoguchi wishes to ring in the New Year as junior flyweight champion
This year Macau will play host to some of the best boxing talent Japan has to offer. The prominent showcase is an annual affair for Japanese fans on New Year’s Eve that typically has the nation’s brightest talents participating, this year being no exception. By taking place in the former Portuguese territory that sits along the Pearl River Delta across the strait from Hong Kong, three title matches will be an incentive for fans from Japan to spend their most celebrated holiday in the “Las Vegas of Asia.”
One of the night’s main attractions, Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8 knockouts), will look to end his momentous year, by becoming a two-division champion, when he challenges The Ring Magazine and WBA junior flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10 knockouts) of South Africa. Kyoguchi is coming off a TKO winning performance in September, in which he first tested the 108-pound waters.
“He is the toughest opponent of my career,” Kyoguchi told RingTV.com. That’s a fair assessment, considering Budler outclassed Kyoguchi’s stablemate, former unified junior flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi in a match-up last May in Tokyo. “(Taguchi) gave me advice on how to approach Budler and I, of course, saw the fight for myself,” continued Kyoguchi.
“I don’t think age will be a factor. My speed will be an advantage.” Kyoguchi is five years younger than his counterpart and already has a proven championship resume, although the more experienced Budler will bring a level of boxing IQ to the ring that Kyoguchi has yet to face at this point in his young career.
Kyoguchi isn’t hesitant in explaining that he’ll win by force when he told RingTV.com. “I’ll defeat him with a barrage of punches.” With eight knockouts in his first 11 professional fights, compared to the 10 Budler has earned over his 35 contests, Kyoguchi comes to the fight with a knockout ratio that numerically suggests he’s more than capable of ending the contest just as he predicts.
After witnessing firsthand what Kyoguchi is capable of, this writer had a chance to speak with the elated young star moments after his most recent win in Tokyo, when he ended Tibo Monabesa’s undefeated record. He made no secret about his confidence in winning a title in his next match, which is now set with Budler, and has been vocal about his overall goal in being Japan’s and, in effect, the world’s best junior flyweight. To do so he wants to first become a two-division champion, which is possible with a win in Macau, and then head straight for a unification match-up against the boy wonder, WBC junior flyweight titlist Ken Shiro.
The fight, while possibly being the best all-Japanese match-up that can be made, has looked difficult to produce, considering each fighter has a separate network contract. However some good news and an early Christmas present to fans came in the form of the duo holding a two-round public sparring at the famed Korakuen Hall this past week in Tokyo.
“(The sparring) was meaningful and will lead to a future match. It motivates me (for the opportunity to fight Shiro).” Kyoguchi clearly looked like the aggressor in sparring and I wondered if he was worried that Shiro’s team might have second thoughts on making a fight after seeing the two of them in action. He didn’t share my concern, “It won’t cause them to be less willing to have a fight in the future. Sparring is totally different from a real fight.”
While acknowledging the future but not losing focus on the championship moment ahead of him, Kyoguchi said, “I’m very excited (about fighting in Macau). In Japan we have a culture to see and watch boxing/martial arts on New Year’s Eve and I believe this is a chance for myself and all fighter’s participating to appeal to the Japanese boxing fans.”
A final warning for Budler?
“I’m going to do my best to get the belt.”
A special thanks to Watanabe Gym for providing access to Hiroto Kyoguchi. Translations courtesy of Yoshiko Motomura.
Contact Nick Skok on Twitter at @NoSparring.
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