The bout will see OPBF Flyweight champion Ardin Diale (31-9-3, 15) face off against a man dubbed “The Romagon of Okinawa” (The Roman Gonzalez of Okinawa), Daigo Higa (9-0, 9).
Like many Filipino fighters Diale has done things the hard way, he's not had things handed to him and has had to travel through his career with bouts in Thailand, Mexico and Japan. Not only has he travelled but he has faced some top fighters on the road, such as Wanheng Menayothin, Julio Cesar Miranda, Juan Francisco Estrada and Koki Eto. Bouts like those have resulted in Diale suffering 9 losses, 4 by stoppage, but he's proven an ability to be competitive with guys from 105lbs to 115lbs.
Higa on the other hand hasn't been protected, nor have the Shirai Gushiken Sports gym tried to protect his KO run. His first 4 wins were against limited opposition, but when he started stepping up he really did step up stopping decent Filipino's like Cris Alfante and then the promising Kongfah CP Freshmart in Thailand to claim the WBC Youth title. As the WBC youth champion he has recorded two defenses against decent Filipino fighters, including Renren Tesorio, and is now taking a logical next step.
In the ring Diale is a true veteran, in terms of experience, but at 27 is only coming into his physical prime. Yes there are years on the clock for the man who debuted almost a decade ago but those years don't seem to have done him much damage, despite an 8 round war with Koki Eto just over 2 years ago. Incidentally he is on a great run of results, winning his last 8 with 5 stoppages, and claiming the OPBF title last December. This will be his second defense of the title and potentially a chance to score a win over one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing.
Whilst Diale is a veteran with almost 300 rounds and 43 fights to his name Higa is the opposite. He's a 9 fight novice with just 30 rounds under his belt, he's a boxing baby and at just 20 years old he's a long way from fully maturing as a man, or building up his confidence as a person. Despite that he's a terror in the ring with an incredible output, heavy hands, intelligent shot selection and an improving, but still flawed defense.
In terms of technical skills Diale has those. He can genuinely box, he has criminally under-rated power, genuine guts and a real will to win. He perhaps falls short of world class in every category but he's one of those fighters who does almost everything very well, just comes up short at the higher levels. It's an unfortunate position to be but regionally he's a really hard fighter to beat and is 13-2 in the last 48 months, with the losses coming to world ranked fighters Eto and Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, in a controversial one in Thailand.
Technically Higa is flawed, he can be hit and his defenses, although improving, aren't great. That's a problem when you're a hyper-aggressive fighter. But Higa seems to be aware that his best defense is his offense and when that gets going he's a nightmare, swarming fighters with an endless assault of heavy and vicious shots to the head and body. It often seems like he has taken the in-ring spirit of his mentor, Yoko Gushiken from whom he has inherited the "Kanmuriwashi" moniker, and has given it a rebirth.
When they fighters get into the ring we suspect they will meet center ring. Higa looking to take the initiative and unleash his fire power, Diale looking to defense and reel off counters, making the most of the openings Higa will give him and he will give Diale plenty of them. If Higa can take the counters and continue firing back for 10 rounds we think he'll score a late stoppage. Diale however has his sneaky power and he'll hit Higa harder than the youngster has been hit before and if he can discourage the youngster there is a good chance he could turn this into a brilliant win and a genuinely great defense of his title. Either way, we're expecting this one to be the fight of the weekend.