On September 15th we'll see one of the biggest fights of 2018, as Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 38) takes on Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (49-1-2, 24) in a highly anticipated rematch for the WBA "Super" and WBC Middleweight titles. The bout comes on the back of a very controversial 2017 split decision draw and has seen both men throwing barbs at each other, with growing regularity and a serious amount of animosity.
For fans in the US and the UK the bout will be on PPV, with HBO PPV carrying the bout Stateside and BT Sports hosting the bout on their PPV service in the UK. For Japanese fans however things will be cheaper with the bout being carried live on subscription service WOWOW, with WOWOW Prime airing the broadcast as part of their "Excite Match" series of shows.
The broadcast for the fight will begin at 11AM local time with a delay broadcast planned for the following Monday.
WOWOW have also revealed their broadcast team for the bout, which includes former world champions Toshiaki Nishioka and Tsuyoshi Hamada along with current WBA "regular" champion Ryota Murata, who has made it clear he would like to face the winner at the Tokyo Dome later this year.
In the build up to the fight there will be two more special broadcasts, the first taking place at 11am on Monday 10th September with a second being shown an hour before the live broadcast. Both of these will be on WOWOW Live. Both of those shows will feature the legendary Yoko Gushiken talking about the bout, with fellow former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka also being advertised as a guest on the Monday show.
This past week has been a living nightmare for former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾]. On Saturday he was stripped of the world title and today he was stopped by Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales (27-3, 18). The loss not only saw Higa suffer his first defeat, but also come up short in his attempt to set a new Japanese domestic record for the longest run of stoppage wins.
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)
Yesterday we saw WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) [比嘉 大吾] score an opening round win over Moises Fuentes (25-5-1, 14) to record his second defense of the title. Today he took part in a press conference and mapped out some of his plans for the future.
The young sttaed he wanted to try and fight 3 more times this year. The next of those fights has been pencilled in for May and it seems like Higa and promoter Yoko Gushiken have arranged that bout to be against WBC #1 ranked challenger Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6) and will be a mandatory defense for the champion.
Higa is also hoping to have a unified title bout later this year, talking about frustrations at Kazuto Ioka's retirement and the fact that Higa had been wanting to fight the Osakan last year, to unify the WBC and WBA titles. As part of that aim he will be attending "Superfly 2" later this month, and appears to have eyes on the IBF title, which will be defended by Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22) as he takes on Argentinina's Juan Carlos Revecco (39-3, 19).
There was also talk about a contest with former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] being a potential foe as Higa looks to get a big bout after his mandatory title fight.
Longer term the plan is try and make a defense in Okinawa a regular thing, and the Okinawa Cellular Stadium seemslikely to hold those bouts in the future, as well as a bout on foreign soil, with the US looking likely to host a fight of his in the the future. Interestingly he's also looking to score 20 consecutive KO's and become a "special champion".
Although there had been rumours of Higa vacating it seems those plans are hold. Higa did suggest his days at 112lbs are limited, but for now he's got plans to stay there and to stay busy, with a move up to Super Flyweight likely to now take place in 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This coming Sunday we'll see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) [比嘉 大吾] battle against former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14) in what will be a major bout for Okinawa.
Today, ahead of that bout, Fuentes took part in a public work out, and looked in fantastic shape, and very much the opposite of how he looked last time he was in Japan, suffering a 1-sided beat down to Kosei Tanaka. Fuentes seemed confident, showed sharp movement and looked fantastic whilst doing a round of shadow boxing, and spending time working the mitts and hitting the speed ball.
The work out of Fuentes was watched by both Tsuyoshi Hamada and Yoko Gushiken, who both seemed impressed by Fuentes, with both backing Higa to come out on top, though made it clear he was going to have to be wary of Fuentes's experience, size and ability.
Whilst Fuentes did look dire against Tanaka it does seem like the move to Flyweight has allowed his body to fill out properly and he did look a lot better in himself than he did ahead of the fight with Tanaka at the end of 2016, in what was a bout for the WBO Light Flyweight title.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Way back in 1981 fight fans in Okinawa saw Yoko Gushiken lose the WBA Light Flyweight title to Pedro Flores. That was the last time fight fans in Okinawa had the chance to see one of their own fighters defending a world title in their back yard.
The long wait ends on February 4th when Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) [比嘉 大吾] defends his WBC Flyweight title against former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14), and seeks a 15th straight knockout as he looks to put himself firmly at the center of Japanese boxing going forward.
Whilst we're known about the main event for a while details on the under-card weren't readily available until today, when several fighters were officially announced for the card.
The chief support bout was confirmed as being an 8 rounder featuring 2016 Lightweight Rookie of the Year Shawn Oda (6-0, 6) [小田翔夢], who returns to the ring for the first time since his April 2017 win over Thai visitor Tienchai Sor Kanitson. At the moment Oda's opponent hasn't been named but the 19 year old is likely to be wanting to shake some ring rust here and will probably face bigger tests down the line.
In another of the main supporting bouts we'll see 23 year old Tatsuro Nakashima (6-0-1, 4) [仲島辰郎] look to extend his unbeaten record. This will be his irst bout since a 5 round split deciison draw with Yuga Inoue in the later stages of the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Minimumweight. As with Oda his opponent hasn't been named.
There will also be an outing for Ryuto Owan (3-0, 2) [大湾硫斗], who will be in the danger zone as he takes on the big punching Jun Blazo (7-4-3, 6) in a really stiff test. On paper Blazo doesn't look much but he dropped Koiki Eto hard in 2016 and gave the touted Hayate Kaji hell in December, and this is a very tough outing for the 19 year old Owan
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