Much of WBA featherweight titleholder Chris John’s 14-year, 48-fight career has been fought in his home country of Indonesia and Australia, far away from the United States and HBO’s cameras. John’s two dalliances with American boxing came in 2009 when he had a draw and a competitive unanimous decision victory over Rocky Juarez in a pair of HBO-televised bouts. Otherwise, John has remained an undefeated, if distant champion to western audiences.
The 32-year-old John (46-0-2, 22 knockouts) is universally regarded as Indonesia’s greatest professional boxer ever, and approaching his May 5 title defense against Shoji Kimura (24-4-2, 9 KOs), of Kanagawa, Japan, at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, John already has his career’s finish line in sight. The crafty technician says that he has just five to six fights left in the tank before retiring next year, and his management doesn’t think a trip back to the States or bouts against division leaders Orlando Salido or Yuriorkis Gamboa are in the cards.
“The Dragon” has plans of his own.
“My first passion is to build boxing in my country Indonesia and to build boxing in Asia,” John told THE RING. “I would like to one day be the ambassador for boxing in Indonesia to help every aspect of the sport, help boxers have opportunities, help trainers learn more. Even help promoters in all of our Indonesian provinces be able to give fighters avenues to fight.
“But this is after I retire. For now I must win every fight my team arrange for me.”
John’s challenger Kimura is coming off of a 10-round split decision victory over former WBA super bantamweight titleholder Ryol Li Lee in January, but prior to that hadn’t fought in nearly two years after losing by a fourth round knockout to then-WBA super bantamweight titleholder Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym in 2010.
“I know he won’t be running, he’s Japanese and a proud fighter,” said John, who, according to Miguel Rivera of BoxingScene.com, is rumored to be in talks to face former bantamweight/junior featherweight champion Rafael Marquez in August in Singapore should he be victorious.
“He has moved up to featherweight and said at the press conference that he is much stronger at featherweight,” John continues on Kimura. “He trained for one year before his first fight at featherweight. I am confident the fight won’t go the distance. I will knock him out him. I have made this promise to my Indonesian fans. For the first time I am going all out for the knock out.”