The bout in question will see current Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) risking his titles, for the second time, against Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6) in a "Champions Carnival" bout.
As mentioned these two met in 2014 in what was the toughest bout since Shibata's unified the titles, just a fight prior to facing Nishida.
The 34 year old champion, a product of the popular Watanabe gym, will be seeking the 5th defense of his title and comes into the bout on a 4 bout stoppage run, including victories over former world champion Makoto Fuchigami and the heavy handed Koki Tyson Maebara. Although not a puncher Shibata has been mentally breaking opponents down with his sharp jab and looks to be a much improved fighter to the one who was stopped, back in 2013, by a then debuting Ryota Murata. Interestingly his 4 bout stoppage run began in the bout that followed his tough win over Nishida and he'll be looking to continue the run against a man who has never been stopped.
The under-rated Nishida really has turned his career around after a forgettable start. The 28 year old challenger was 4-5-1 (1) after 10 bouts though has since gone 10-2 (5) with one of those loss to Shibata in 2014 and the other to 154lb domestic contender Yuto Shimizu. Whilst it'd be easy to assume he's been matched easily during that 12 fight run the truth is that he really hasn't and he has scored wins over the likes of former OPBF and JBC title challenger Fukutaro Ujiie, former 2-weight OPBF champion Kazuhiko Hidaka, former Japanese title challenger Go Nakahori, and a couple of wins over former OPBF and JBC champion Makoto Fuchigami.
Given that Nishida gave Shibata a really tough time back in '14 we're thinking this could well be his time to shine, however Shibata has proven time and time again that he should never be written off.
Below we have included both men in their rematches with Fuchigami, who is best known for coming up short against Gennady Golovkin.
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