One of the sparring partners is former WBC Youth Super Flyweight champion Jhaleel Payao (11-0, 6), a talented 21 year old from Cebu City. Although not the most well known fighter out there Payao is regarded by some as one of the most promising prospects in the Philippines and he is on the rise through the ranks. Although listed on boxrec.com as an "orthodox" fighter footage seems to suggest that Payao is a southpaw, like Haskins. It's fair to say that Payao won't mirror the style of Haskins but it will give Iwasa ring time with a southpaw of a very similar height to his upcoming foe.
The other sparring partner is Diarh Gabutan (19-4-3, 10), a former world ranked fighter. Gabutan has gone 1-3 in his last 4 bouts but they have included a controversial loss in Japan to Takahiro Shigee and a very narrow loss in South Africa to Vusi Malinga, with Malinga's win later taking him to a fight in England with Stuart Hall. Like Haskins he's a southpaw and stands at 5'6", again a very similar height to Haskins. Although not as a promising as his compatriot Gabutan is viewed as a strong fighter and should help reinforce Iwasa's inside work ahead of the fight.
In the past we've seen that Iwasa has been sparring with the likes of Shingo Wake and Shohei Omori, both of whom are very talented southpaws, and it's fair to say that Iwasa will have fantastic preparations for the bout with Haskins. The questions however will be how well does he cope with the conditions in the United Kingdom, a long way from Tokyo, where he has fought all 20 of his bouts so far.
IBF title bout between Ryosuke Iwasa and Lee Haskins announced for June 13th! British fans get it on free to air TV!
(Image courtesy of Iwasa's blog)