Home Boxing News Asian Faces: Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto

Asian Faces: Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto

Kyotaro Fujimoto

Japanese fighters typically make their mark on the sport at the lower weights. There are a few exceptions, such as Shinji Takehara and Nobuhiro Ishida, but for the most part Japanese fighters above 130lbs rarely get much attention.

In recent years however we have seen the rise of Heavyweight fighter Kyotaro Fujimoto (16-1, 8), who has created bit of national history several times during his professional boxing career, which only began back in 2011.

Although Kyotaro is a relative boxing newbie he’s a veteran of combat sports. In fact he made his professional debut back in 2006 as a kick boxer. His early kick boxing career didn’t come massive acclaim but he proved to be a talent and in 2007 he managed to win a K1 tryout. That K1 try began a real run of success for Kyotaro who claimed notable wins over the likes of Mighty Mo.

The success of Kyotaro saw him win his first 12 bouts before coming up short against Ewerton Teixeira. That loss saw Kyotaro fall to 12-1 as a kick boxer before running up 4 more wins to eventually become the K1 Heavyweight champion. Having made his name and moved to 16-1 it seemed like Kyotaro lost his desire and he went on win just 2 of his following 6 bouts, though those wins did come against legends like Peter Aerts and Jereome Le Banner.

Kyotaro fought his last kick boxing bout on December 31st 2010 before turning his attention to professional boxing. Exactly a year after his last kick boxing bout he debuted as a professional boxer.

On his boxing debut Kyotaro scored a 6 round win over Michael O’Donnell, and seemed to make it clear that he wasn’t in boxing to just be a gimmick, but instead he was a serious fighter. That proved to be the case just a few months later when he beat the then Korean Heavyweight champion Jae Chan Kim in 2 rounds. That win was then followed by a win over Clarence Tillman and then a 10 round decision over the hugely experienced Chauncy Welliver.

Having been a professional for 9 months Kyotaro had raced out to 5-0 (3) and become a fighter that had began to make genuine waves an attract some attention from the West. After all he was a Japanese Heavyweight with brightly coloured hair who had beaten Chauncy Welliver that early in his career. Sadly for Kyotaro his fast track rise to the top came to a crashing halt just a year after his debut, as the heavy handed Solomon Haumono scored a 5th round TKO over Fujimoto. The fight, for the OPBF Heavyweight title, showed that whilst Fujimoto was a good mover he lacked the natural instincts as a boxer to be fast tracked, not knowing quite how to handle the power or natural size of Haumono, who’s right hands were simply too much.

Having been stopped at OPBF level Kyotaro’s handlers didn’t waste time letting him fight a series of scrubs, instead they got him in with French Heavyweight champion Fabrice Aurieng, who was stopped in 7 rounds by the Japanese hopeful.

With a bounce back win under his belt Kyotaro got the chance to create history as he took on former world title challenger Okello Peter for the then vacant Japanese Heavyweight title. That title had been inactive for 56 years, having not been fought for since 1957. Kyotaro took his opportunity and sped around Peter, landing sharp shots on the Ugandan born giant, before Peter was stopped in round 6 to give Fujimoto a huge bit of Japanese boxing history.

Fujimoto became first Japanese fighter to defend the national Heavyweight title just 4 months later, as he over-came Kotatsu Takehara with a competitive decision win. That was then followed a much debated, and heavily publicised, non-title win over the aforementioned Ishida, who bulked up from Light Middleweight to Heavyweight as he began to chase a dream of becoming a Japanese Heavyweight champion. Ishida’s performance hadn’t been enough to impress the judges to award him a win, but did do enough to prove to the JBC that he wasn’t risking his life as a Heavyweight, something they seemed to fear when he first spoke about fighting for the title.

Following his narrow win over Ishida we saw Fujimoto record his second defense of the title, stopping Takehara in 5 rounds before adding an 8 round decision win over David Radeff to his record. Those wins, along with two more for Ishida, lead to a much anticipated rematch between Kyotaro and Ishida, with the title then on the line. Sadly for Ishida he was again narrowly beaten by Kyotarowho made the third, and so far final, defense of the Japanese crown.

Having essentially cleaned out the very small domestic scene, Kyotaro’s team began to look else where for opponents. That lead him to a bout with the then 10-1 Mexican David Torres Garcia, who put in a pathetic performance on round to losing in 3 rounds to Fujimoto. The bout saw Garcia fighting at a heavier weight than he had in any of his previous bouts and suffering for it. Interestingly since that loss the Mexico has picked up two more stoppage losses, both in Canada, as he weight continued to balloon up. Following Garcia was the out-matched Nathan McKay, who last 8 rounds but failed to win any of them, and then the relatively hopeless Adam Lovelock, who was stopped in 2 rounds.

Most recently Kyotaro was seen in the ring creating another small bit of history as he out pointed the heavy handed Willi Nasio over 12 rounds to claim the OPBF Heavyweight title, becoming the first Japanese born fighter to accomplish such a feat. In that bout Kyotaro showed that he had learned from his early career defeat and stuck to boxing and moving to over-come Nasio, who was dropped en route to a clear decision loss.

Kyotaro will be looking to continue to build his legacy as the first real Japanese Heavyweight fighter of note on May 8th when he seeks his first defense of the OPBF title, in a bout against Herman Ene Purcell (12-5, 6). A win there for the 30 year old Kyotaro would see him left with several options, including potential bouts with Zhang Junlong and Zhang Zhilei, but it’d be clear that he and his team would be looking to secure a world title fight, creating yet another bit of history.

In the ring Kyotaro isn’t the best, he’s not the strongest, the biggest puncher or the biggest. He is however a well schooled fighter who fights to his strengths and uses well laid game plans to over-come bigger and stronger fighters. He uses a lot of movement, making the most of his feet and hand speed, and is a slippery fighter to pin down. He’s unlikely to survive long with any of the elite Heavyweights of the day, but he could, if matched right, pick up a title down the line, especially given the mess the WBA keep finding their belts in.

Whether Kyotaro can, or can’t, win a world title is really a bit of a moot point however with the success he’s already had in two different sports already making him a success story and already making him the most successful and most decorated Japanese Heavyweight boxer of all time.

(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)