For Hayashi the bout serves as his first defense of the title, a title he won back in September when he defeated Noriyuki Ueno for the then vacant title. The performance against Ueno was one of Hayashi's best so far and showed the Hatanaka man had developed into a very strong fighter capable of moving into the world rankings in the future and it seems now, in his late 20's, he's coming into his own.
The win over Ueno wasn't just a bout that saw Hayashi claim the title but also saw him extending an unbeaten run that now sits are 14 fights unbeaten, dating back more than 5 years, and features 13 wins and a draw. That has included victories not only over Ueno but also over the likes of good Japanese contenders like Ryosei Arai, Zuri Kannan, Yoshiyuki Takabayashi and Koji Umetsu and has given real legitimacy to his status as one of the rising men on the Japanese scene.
Although on the rise Hayashi is still a flawed fighter who has a lot to improve on and he can be out worked and out boxed. It's not happened recently but it has happened before and he will know that he needs to keep improve if he's to make the cross over from Japanese champion to world title contender. His out put needs to improve and he needs to start sitting more on his shots, though every bout has seen an improvement recently.
Aged 32 Shimoda is a man probably best known for suffering two KO of the year type defeats. One of those happened back in 2011 to Rico Ramos, in a bout he was comfortably winning, and the other in 2014 to Marvin Sonsona. Despite those losses Shimoda is a talented fighter who has won Japanese, OPBF and world titles at 122lbs with wins against the likes of Daisuke Yamanaka, Hidenori Kobayashi, Hiromasa Ohashi, Ryol Li Lee, Alejandro Gonzalez and Gosuke Seki.
In the ring Shimoda is a talented boxer from the southpaw stance who has under-rated power, lovely counter punching and can force the fight when he needs to. He judges distance well, has under-rated movement and really solid technical ability. Sadly though his KO losses will forever haunt him and give any opponent belief that they too can catch him and render him unconscious.
Given his age and the wear on his body Shimoda will know that this could be his last chance to fight in a title bout. A win could, potentially, put him in the world rankings and get him one more chance at the top but a loss will almost certainly be the end of his career,
With the bout being a real must win for both men, for Shimoda to have much of a career and for Hayashi to establish his reign as a genuine one, we're expecting a very good, but yet tense bout. Hayashi will look for the KO and will try to break down and out work Shimoda, who has fought only 12 rounds in the last 14 months, Shimoda however will believe his more rounded skills and power will be the key. Sadly for the former world champion we think his age will be a problem here and Hayashi will just do enough to claim a decision win and retain his title, before potentially moving on to bigger things next year.