Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Sendai is a beautiful city in northern Japan with a good population of more than a million residents, full of green trees, featuring many sightseeing places including the Aoba (green leaves in Japanese) castle. It is a bit cool in winter, but people here are anticipating hot wars with the WBC belts on the line tomorrow (Saturday). Unbeaten WBC 115-pound champ Carlos Cuadras (33-0-1, 26 KOs), from Mexico, will put his belt on the line against elongated Japanese challenger Koki Eto (17-3-1, 13 KOs) in the main event at the Xebio Arena. The semi-windup will watch another Mexican titlist, Pedro Guevara (26-1-1, 17 KOs) defend his WBC 108-pound title against Japanese speedster Yu Kimura (17-2-1, 3 KOs), ex-national amateur and professional champ.
Today we saw a weigh-in ceremony, where Cuadras and Eto both tipped the beam at 114.5, half a pound lighter than the super-fly limit, while Guevara scales in at the 108-pound light-fly limit to 107.5 for Kimura.
Cuadras vs. Eto
Referee Hector Afu (Panama); judges Barry Lindenman (US), Jun-Bae Lim (Korea) and Noppharat Sricharoen (Thailand)
Referee Ian John Lewis (UK); judges same as for the main event
The supervisor for both title bouts is Major Lee Wonbok (Korea).
Having fought here on five occasions with as many knockout victories, Cuadras, 27, is a fairly good speaker of Japanese, though he just repeats proclaiming himself, “I’m beautiful. I’m fast. I’m strong.” Cuadras whose initials are CC seems to be following a pioneer with the same initials named Cassius Clay. The Mexican youngster nicknamed Principe (Prince) has already registered four defenses since he dethroned Srisaket Sor Rungvisai via eighth round technical decision in Mexico in May of the previous year. The flamboyant Cuadras is a busy-punching and fast-moving combination puncher now handled by Californian Rudy Hernandez. He has lately shown technical progress in the offense and defense thanks to his new trainer’s coaching.
Eto, standing 5’8” and four inches taller than the champ, is a pupil of former WBA junior flyweight champ, latest Hall of Famer Yoko Gushiken, who appeared to be very much motivated to produce his first male world champ (except ex-female titlist Naoko Yamaguchi). Eto, 27, once seized he WBA interim flyweight belt by upsetting Kompayak Porpramook on points thanks to scoring a last-round knockdown in 2013, though losing it in his first defense by a bitter final-round stoppage at the hand of Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep—both in Thailand.
Eto, a game puncher fond of swapping punches rather than boxing by utilizing his advantageous height and reach, acquired the vacant OPBF belt by a furious do-or-die come-from-behind eighth-round knockout over Filipino Arden Diale in June of the previous year. All the judges had tallied 63-68 against Eto, but he finally emerged victorious due to his mental durability. Since then, Koki, the eldest of Eto brothers, kept the OPBF belt twice by finishing Filipino Cris Paulino and stopping compatriot Yuki Fukumoto in give-and-take combats. The crowd-pleaser must realize that it will be dangerous to exchange punches toe-to-toe with such a knockout artist as Cuadras, but Eto most probably won’t be able to keep his head cool but swap punches so recklessly that the crowd will be on its feet. It will be a very interesting affair of the undaunted hard-punchers.
Pedro Guevara, 26, is an intelligent person that has recently acquired the qualification of lawyer after studying hard in a law school in Mexico. He stunned the Japanese audience when he won the vacant WBC belt by dispatching formerly two-time world champ Akira Yaegashi with a single body shot a year ago. The clever Pedro kept it twice by polishing off Filipino Richard Claveras via first round halt and unanimously decisioning mandatory challenger Ganigan Lopez to his credit. Despite a low KO ratio, Kimura is a skillful footworker who relies on his speed on hand and foot. Kimura, also a university graduate, gained the national 108-pound belt by eking out a split duke over Kenichi Horikawa in February of the previous year, and retained it on three occasions to show his technical progress. Should he be able to outbox and outfox the versatile Mexican champ, he might have a speedster’s chance as Paul Pender had upset Sugar Ray Robinson in 1960. Anything can happen in the squared circle.