The champion won the belt last year, defeating fellow veteran Kenichi Horikawa for the title which had been vacated by Ken Shiro. He went on to defend the title twice last year, beating former world title challenger Atsushi and youngster Takeru Kamikubo. In all 3 of his title victories Hisada has shown an amazing engine, getting better as the fights get one, consistent power and a real desire to prove himself. That desire has also seen him totally turn his career around, and just 3 years ago he was 21-9-2 and floundering as a professional.
The reason for a lot of Hisada's problems, before his current 9 fight winning run, was the fact he kept fighting at different weights. He regularly fought at Flyweight and even fought a few times at Super Flyweight. At those higher weights he has really struggled but at Light Flyweight his record is genuinely impressive at 8-2 (7), with those losses coming to Ryoichi Taguchi and Kenichi Horikawa, with the loss to Horikawa being avenged. Above Light Flyweight he is 22-7-2 (12). Even if the winning %'s aren't starkly different, 80% and 71%, the difference in his power at the lower weight is telling.
On paper Itagaki has the record of a journeyman, losing in 11 of 32 bouts. He has however been matched incredibly hard on the domestic and regional scene facing the likes of Yu Kimura, Suguru Muranaka, Palangpol CP Freshmart, Warlito Parrenas, Tatsuya Fukuhara, Rey Loreto and Kenichi Horikawa among others. Given that level of competition there is little surprise to see him having losses pile up, though unfortunately he has also come up short against weaker opponents, and at 34 it's unlikely he'll manage to turn things around and score a career best victory.
In the ring Itagaki is a tough battler. He's not much of a puncher, he's not quick and he's not a defensive master. He is however a gutsy fighter. He will take the fight to Hisada and refuse to give anything but his all. Sadly for him that won't be enough here and despite his determination and effort we can't see past a late stoppage for Hisada, who will make Itagaki look his 34 years.
It is worth noting Itagaki comes into this on the back of one of his best wins, a decision over Koki Ono, but he won't have enough to over-come Hisada here.