Monday, January 30, 2023  |



Hiroto Kyoguchi stops Esteban Bermudez in a grueling Ring title bout

Hiroto Kyoguchi (right) lands a punch on Esteban Bermudez during their Ring title bout - Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

A war was promised in the junior flyweight Ring championship clash between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Esteban Bermudez, and a war was what we got from the Domo Alcalde in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Both sides proved to be equally feisty and resilient, but only one had the artillery needed to win the day, and that was Japan’s Kyoguchi, who retained his Ring belt and “consolidated” two versions of the same WBA title in a one-sided beating of an extremely durable and courageous Bermudez before stopping him 24 seconds into the eighth round.   

In the first round, both fighters came out looking to land heavy bombs from the outset, but it was Kyoguchi the one who scored the most telling punches. The champion made Bermudez miss often, and countered effectively both upstairs and downstairs.

In the second, Bermudez forced the fight to the close range and focused on Kyoguchi’s body, but the champ obliged and responded with ripping body shots and uppercuts that bloodied Bermudez’s nose and snapped his head back numerous times.

In the third, Bermudez started out with a more cautious approach, trying to circle around his foe and box him from a distance, but Kyoguchi’s uppercuts found their way to his face fast enough, and the local credit was in trouble all over again. With blood pouring from Bermudez’s nose as well as a cut on his forehead, Kyoguchi simply scaled back on his efforts just to measure the extent of the damage inflicted so far and appear to be saving himself for the next round when referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. momentarily halted the bout to allow the ringside physician to check on Bermudez.

Hiroto Kyoguchi unleashes his power on Esteban Bermudez during their Ring title bout – Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

With his foe debilitated by the power of his punches and the loss of blood, Kyoguchi started picking his punches more carefully in the fourth round, trying to inflict the most damage with the least effort just in case the battle dragged on thanks to Bermudez’s superhuman endurance. This allowed Bermudez to surge momentarily and land a furious left hook towards the end of the round, but only when Kyoguchi had the round clearly secured.

With his man hurt, Kyoguchi went toe-to-toe in the fifth and unleashed a two-fisted attack that debilitated Bermudez and reopened his numerous cuts, but the Mexican never took a step back, gladly offering a target to Kyoguchi’s superb output.

In the sixth, Kyoguchi appear to land an intentional headbutt in a very awkward move, and this prompted Ramirez to deduct a point from Kyoguchi in spite of having issued no previous warnings on such transgressions. Kyoguchi responded by going after Bermudez and punishing him along the ropes for the rest of the round.

In spite of Bermudez’s head being smothered with a thick layer of Vaseline, blood kept flowing unstoppably from his cuts in the seventh round, and the ringside doctor was summoned again to check on him. He was inexplicably allowed to continue, but then Kyoguchi unleashed an unmerciful attack that was capped by one or two rabbit punches, and Ramirez decided to deduct another point from the Japanese champ. The round ended just as Bermudez stood in a neutral corner with blood covering his entire face.

Hiroto Kyoguchi stops Esteban Bermudez in Guadalajara, Mexico, as referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. halts the contest – Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

Finally, Kyoguchi came out in the eighth determined to close the show, and he went for the kill with a relentless onslaught that had Bermudez defenseless against the ropes to force Ramirez to finally intervene and halt the massacre only seconds into the episode.

“I thanked Bermudez for the great fight that I had,” said Kyoguchi, referring to a moment in which both fighters kneeled and embraced each other after the end of the bout. “I wanted to fight in Mexico where there are a lot of boxing fans, and now I want to move on to the next challenge. My next step is that there are a lot of champions that I want to fight, and that’s what I want to do.”

In spite of the one-sided nature of the beatdown, it was later learned that Kyoguchi was only one point ahead of Bermudez in two scorecards, and trailing by the same margin in the other one, with that pair of point deductions accounting only for a fraction of this unusual tabulation.

With the technical knockout win, Kyoguchi improved to 16-0 (11 knockouts) while Bermudez slipped to  14-4-2 (10 KOs).

Hiroto Kyoguchi holds his belts afer defeating Esteban Bermudez – Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He also wrote for, and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and other outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for