• Kyodo News

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Daisuke Naito will defend his WBC flyweight title for the fifth time against China’s rising star Xiong Zhao Zhong in Shanghai in May, the head of his gym said Wednesday.

Miyata Gym, which will promote the May 26 bout, was approached about staging the fight in China by the WBC, which is looking to make inroads in the world’s most populous nation.

“It will be tough to turn a profit but and we are seeking Japanese sponsors,” Hiroyuki Miyata said. “Naito fighting in China will be for the future of boxing.”

Naito had been required to fight a higher-ranked challenger in his next title defense, but Miyata said the WBC has given the fight against 14th-ranked Xiong the go-ahead.

Naito stopped compatriot Shingo Yamaguchi in the 11th round in his last title defense in Tokyo in December, improving his record to 34 wins — 22 of them by knockout — two defeats and three draws.

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