This development has arisen after Arthur Villanueva (16-0, 14) vacated the belt. Villanueva, who has held the title since December 2012, hasn't defended the bout in more than 18 months and it appears his intentions are to move on to world title bouts rather than to defend the belt again.
What it really means is we now have 4 title bouts on the show, with this bout offering support to a trio of world title bouts. It also speeds up the plans for Matsumoto who was expected to move in to title bouts in 2015. The change might not be a major on in some ways but it is huge in other ways with Matsumoto suddenly going from fighting in 8 round bouts to 12 round bouts in one fell swoop.
For Villanueva, who is world ranked by the IBF, this is a great opportunity to claim another title to add to his IBF Asia title however this will be one of his toughest bouts given that Matsumoto is himself a world ranked fighter and a man who is showing real signs of being a world class prospect.
We suspect that if Matsumoto wins and looks good in doing so then he'll be moved into the world title mix quickly. Effectively this bout could fast track him into a world title bout by the of 2015 if his team feel confident enough in him doing so, and lets be honest with his team by Ohashi gym they'll be confident in their talented young fighter.
(Image of Matsumoto courtesy of boxingnews.jp)