By Joe Koizumi
Four ambitious Japanese warriors today (Saturday) departed for Mexico where they will face Mexican stars on next Saturday (April 27). The deluxe promotion of four Mexicans versus Japanese bouts will be presented by Oswaldo Kuchle of Promociones del Pueblo at the Arena Mexico in Mexico City. The headliner will be ex-WBC featherweight champ Jhonny Gonzalez (53-8, 45 KOs), who will face young Japanese aspirant Akihiko Katagiri (12-6-1, 4 KOs). Though dethroned by Daniel Ponce De Leon via technical decision last September, Gonzalez, five years his senior at 31, wishes to deck his second comebacking bout against Katagiri who hopes to upset the ex-champ to come home as a world contender.
The history of fistic confrontations between Mexican and Japanese boxers is long enough with many hot wars such as Vicente Saldivar against Mitsunori Seki (twice) and Kuniaki Shibata (who upset Mexican Red Hawk in Tijuana). Jose Medel, a razor-sharp counterpuncher, invaded Japan and decked eye-catching KO victories over Seki and Fighting Harada. The uncrowned champ Medel is still the most loved Mexican warrior here in Japan, where we even today talk about the Medel-Harada extravaganza (though Harada avenged his loss in their rematch with his world bantam belt on the line).
Supporting is the WBC Continental Americas super-feather title bout with Dante Jardon (22-3, 18 KOs) defending his regional belt against Japan’s Akinori Kanai (25-7, 22 KOs) over twelve rounds. Jardon, once rated atop in the WBC 130-pound category, suffered an unexpected KO defeat at the hand of Japanese Kyohei Tamakoshi in Mexico sixteen months ago. Having steadily fought on his comeback trail, Jardon, 25, acquired the regional belt and raised his WBC rating with his effort. Now he is going to face his second Japanese rival Kanai, 29, who was once regarded as a bright prospect with fourteen consecutive knockouts from his pro debut despite his eventual failures to win the Japanese and OPBF belts from Hiroyuki Enoki and Ryuji Migaki both within the distance. Jardon probably wishes to forget about his nightmare caused by Tamakoshi (who lately failed to win the Japanese 130-pound belt via TKO route by Daiki Kaneko in the Carnival of Champions). It will be an interesting encounter of the hard-punchers with suspect chins.
Unbeaten Mexican super-bantam prospect Rey Vargas (13-0, 12 KOs) will dispute the WBC international 122-pound belt with Japanese puncher Seizo Kono (13-4-1, 8 KOs) over twelve heats. Vargas is a 22-year-old sensation who defeated such strong rivals as Luis Lugo (KO5) and Marcos Cardenas (TKO5) to his credit. Kono, 23, always maintains the pressure on his opponent to mix it up, having defeated current world contender Petchbarngborn Kokietgym of Thailand in 2010. Vargas also loves swapping punches with his rival and scored many quick knockouts or stoppages without suffering any defeat. It will be a hot face-to-face competition.
Former WBC female flyweight champ Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (36-6-3, 16 KOs) will take on Japan’s Riyo Togo (9-4-1 8 KOs), ex-OPBF super-fly ruler who forfeited her belt in her last bout this February. Mariana renounced her WBC 112-pound throne due to her weight problem, and lately defeated busy-moving ex-WBA 115-pound ruler Tsunami Tenkai by a unanimous decision last December. Togo is Tenkai’s stablemate at Alpha Gym presided by Toshihiro Yamaki, so might receive some advices from Tenkai as to how to cope with Barbie. Juarez is a faster and more skillful boxeadora than Togo, who loves to exchange punches toe-to-toe and show a hot performance. It will be a confrontation of a pretty boxer and a persistent puncher.
This promotion is called “One, Two, Music and Boxing” that will attract great many Mexican aficionados without doubt. Buena suerte (Good luck).