One such fight took place today as 20 year old Thai Kongfah CP Freshmart (14-1, 8) took on exciting 19 year old Japanese brawler Daigo Higa (7-0, 7) in a WBC Youth Flyweight title fight. When it was announced we singled the bout out as a potential mini-classic, especially having seen plenty of both men. What we didn't expect was the thriller that we ended up getting.
From very early in the bout the intentions of Higa were clear. He was in Thailand not just to win, but to stop Kongfah and continue his KO streak. He seemed to know that Thailand was a very difficult place to get a decision, especially against an unbeaten prospect like Kongfah. With that mentality Higa set an intense pace, pushing forward and forcing Kongfah on to the back foot, pushing him against the ropes and forcing him to respond.
Through 4 rounds the action was nothing short of amazing. Higa's aggression and high work rate brought regular responses form Kongfah, who often appeared to be landing the more powerful shots. The back and forth made it seem likely that one man as going to end up being stopped.
It wasn't until round 5 that the pace began to drop. Although the bout was slowing it continued to be incredibly entertaining with both men continuing to land plenty. Was the pace was slowing the fight continued in a similar vein to how it had started, with Higa pushing forward, he was however now being tagged more and more often. It seemed as if the Thai condition, which are almost always a problem for visiting fighters, were beginning to take it's toll on the visitor. The 6th was another round that seemed to suggest Higa had simply set a pace he couldn't continue with whilst Kongfah appeared to change tactics slightly, being more willing to move, hold and neutralise Higa, who had never been beyond 4 rounds.
With the fight seemingly changing from Higa's bout to Kongfah it looked as if we were set to see the Thai walk away victorious. That was until a vicious, spiteful right hand from Higa dropped Kongfah hard early in round 7. The Thai, to his credit, beat the count and the referee deemed him fit to continue. He was however damaged goods and exhausted by the pace of the bout. Higa smelled blood and launched a relentless attack, eventually sending Kongfah down for the second time. This time Kongfah stayed down for the count.
With this win Higa becomes the new WBC Youth Flyweight champion and adds his name to a short list of Japanese fighters who have Thai's in Thailand in notable bouts. Another man to do that was Higa's stablemate Koki Eto, who watched the bout from ringside. It's fair to say that Higa's performance seemed to be based around the tactics used by Eto when he famously over-came Kompayak Popranook back in 2013 to claim the WBA "interim" Flyweight title. This bout wasn't quite as good as that one, which was a top contender for the 2013 FOTY, but this wasn't too far off and really was a must watch 7 round war between two young men putting it all on the line.