• Kyodo

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Hiroto Kyoguchi retained his World Boxing Association light flyweight title for the third time Saturday after defeating Mexican challenger Axel Aragon Vega in a fifth-round technical knockout in his first match in the United States.

Kyoguchi, the 27-year-old super champion, extended his perfect career record to 15 wins — including 10 by knockout — while 10th-ranked Vega saw his record fall to 14-4 with a draw following their bout at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Vega gave the Japanese favorite an extremely tough fight but hurt his hand as the two slugged it out at close quarters. After a glancing blow off the top of the head that the Japanese champion failed to duck, Vega turned his back and grimaced in pain before the referee stopped the fight.

Kyoguchi was somewhat disappointed with the manner of his win.

“I was expected to provide a different type of KO. I wanted to put myself on show a bit more,” Kyoguchi said after his first knockout win in three bouts that also arrived on the first fight after he signed a contract with British promoter Matchroom.

Kyoguchi was fighting for the first time since October 2019 after a world title bout scheduled last November was called off when he contracted the coronavirus and, he said, made him question his future.

“I thought about quitting boxing,” said Kyoguchi, whose father was diagnosed with cancer in December. “I fought for the fans and for my father.”

The Osaka Prefecture-born fighter said he is eager to accept more challenges for the sake of his career.

“Fighting world champs from other sanctioning bodies generates excitement. I want to enrich my boxing career,” he said.

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