By Joe Koizumi
Japanese challenger Shoji Kimura (24-4-2, 9 KOs) arrived in Singapore on Tuesday to have an ambitious crack at the WBA super championship in the featherweight division against unbeaten Indonesian hero Chris John (46-0-2, 22 KOs) here on Saturday. It will be a fabulous promotion at the Marina Bay Sands, which became internationally famous with its unique architecture of a gigantic ship lying over three big towers (probably you cannot imagine the structure). It is very rare to have a world title bout staged in Singapore, where, however, Indonesian Elly Pical barely kept his IBF super-fly belt by a split verdict over Mike Phelps at the National Stadium here in 1989.
Kimura, 34, once had a shot at the WBA 122-pound belt against Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym en route to a TKO defeat in Thailand in May 2010. The veteran Japanese speedster recently decked an upset victory over ex-WBA titlist Retsuri (AKA Ryol-li) Lee on points this January to enter the WBA ratings again. Kimura said, “Chris John is a great champion, but I’ve been training strenuously to show a good performance here. I’ll do my best.” Kimura is accompanied by his manager and ex-world flyweight champ Susumu Hanagata who once captured the world throne by chalking up an upset triumph over Chartchai Choinoi in 1974. Hanagata, who had become the world champ at his fifth attempt, said, “Should Kimura be fortunate, he may win the belt as I did if he is a good man enough to welcome a good luck like me.”