The fighter had looked out of sorts all week. He had looked mentally broken at the physical checks on Thursday, and had looked miserable, drained and fed up ever since. Although to many Higa's inability to make the limit at the weigh in was the biggest mark against him, it really seemed to just sum the last few days before the fight. He had genuinely looked like a man who wanted to be some where else.
In the ring today he looked a shadow of the man who had bult a reputation as a destroyed. His intensity was gone, he looked full of self doubt, lacked energy and really wasn't mentally checked in for the fight. He looked beaten mentally and physically from the first round.
After the bout many questioned why Higa was even allowed to fight. Why his team allowed him in the ring and why they didn't cancel the bout when it was clear that he wouldn't be 100% for the bout. Sadly there doesn't appear to be a clear answer, but there is a bit of an answer now being reported in the Japanese press.
After the loss Higa's mentor Yoko Gushiken spoke to the media whilst Higa headed to hospital.
Gushiken admitted it was his fault. He admitted that the time period between this fight and Higa's last one, against Moises Fuentes in February, was too short. The team around Higa assumed that by keeping busy his weight wouldn't increase, so he wouldn't need time to lose weight and make Flyweight. Instead they were wrong, horribly wrong, and he had been weak in the lead up to the fight. Gushiken stated that he was "responsible for making the bout" and that he "did something wrong with Daigo".
The JBC are likely to further punish the fighter and his team for his inability to make weight, with some suggesting a 1 year suspension, and he's now listed as the first Japanese fighter to have been stripped of a world title due to inability to make weight.
It should be noted that some sources are reporting that Higa requested to move up in weight following his win over Fuentes, something that now seems like it would have been a much, much better move that taking having today's bout. The loss is likely to send him to Super Flyweight, but with the loss on hios record, the black mark of being stripped of a title and his stoppage run coming to an end, a lot of the aura around him has been destroyed due to this loss.
We, like all fans, will look forward to Higa's ring return, but it does feel like this was an avoidable defeat, and something that his team need to be quizzed one. Why did they accept the bout? Why didn't they pull him when it was clear he wouldn't be 100%? Why didn't they move their fighter up in weight when he had been struggled to make the Flyweight limit for almost a year?
Sadly for the SGS gym, which manages Higa, this week has been a hard one for them, with Higa's loss coming just days after stablemate Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-1, 6) [木村吉光] lost his unbeaten record, coming up short against Richard Pumicpic (21-8-2, 6) and it could be time for the gym to look at it's self, and whether they made mistakes in the losses for both of their youngsters.
Whilst Higa was favoured over Rosales, there is a chance he wouldn't have ever beaten the Nicaraguan, however putting a less than 100% Higa in there with him is just not fair on the fighter or the fans.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)