Boxing: Kiyota lays down gauntlet to champion Stieglitz


Japanese super middleweight Yuzo Kiyota has a message for WBO champion Robert Stieglitz: since you think I’m the underdog, you won’t mind if I bite you.

Kiyota, the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation champion, takes on Stieglitz in his first world title bout in Dresden, Germany, on July 13. By most accounts, the German fighter would appear to be the heavy favorite, but not Kiyota’s.

“I guess he must think I am the underdog. Well, then I will bite him,” Kiyota told reporters at press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old Hokkaido native had been scheduled to defend his OPBF crown for the seventh time in March but had to be hospitalized a day before the bout due to poor health and the match was called off.

Kiyota will enter the ring for the first time since October last year, with the added pressure of fighting overseas in his maiden world title match. “I had almost given up on a world title match, so I was surprised (when the match was arranged).”

Kiyota, who holds a record of 23-3 (21 knockouts) with one draw, is the first Japanese fighter to take a crack at a WBO title since Japan Boxing Commission joined the WBO in April.

He is the third from his country after Yoshiaki Dajima and Yoshinori Nishizawa to make an attempt at a super middleweight crown from the four major sanctioning bodies in professional boxing.

Kiyota, fighting at a lean 76.2 kilograms, has a chance to surpass Shinji Takehara, who won the WBA middleweight crown in 1995, as the heaviest champion ever in Japan.

The 31-year-old Stieglitz holds a record of 44-3, including 25 wins by knockout.