Since the loss to Murata we have seen only two fighters go the distance with Shibata. The first of those was Daisuke Nakagawa, who retired following the loss to Shibata, and the other is the under-rated Hikaru Nishida (now 14-7-1, 6) [西田 光]. This coming Saturday Shibata and Nishida meet for the second time with Shibata trying to continue a 4 fight run whilst Nishida looks to avenge his only loss in the last 3 years, and one of only two defeats in his last 12 bouts.
Of the two men it's is Shibata who is the most well known. Much of his international recognition is from the loss to Murata but the 34 year old does have some genuinely solid wins of his own and has been one of the more notable “bigger” fighters in Japan for a number of years. Those wins including claiming the unified OPBF and JBC crown at 154lbs, beating Yuki Nonaka in 2009, beating Daisuke Nakagawa twice, in 2012 and 2014, beating Takatyuki Hosokawa in 2013, beating Makoto Fuchigami twice, in 2013 and 2015 and most recently beating Koki Tyson Maebara.
In the ring Shibata is a very clever boxer-mover, though one who has changed his style as he's gotten older. Originally he was very light on his feet, and some what defensively flawed, seemingly thinking his speed was his biggest asset. Not a days he's a more controlled fighter, he still uses his speed but has tightened up his defense and is happier to stand his ground, hence scoring 4 success stoppages in the last few years, compared to just 9 stoppages in his previous 32 bouts.
Although getting on in age Shibata does seem to still be getting better and is a very talented fighter who looks to have a number of years left in his career.
Whilst Shibata is well known the same cannot be said of Nishida, who is incredibly over-looked and under-rated. Part of the reason he's so over-looked is his record, which features less than 66% wins. The truth however is that he's better than his record, and has improved markedly since the early part of his career. He is no longer the fighter who was 4-5-1 (1) whilst fighting over 4 rounds, but is instead a fighter who has gone 10-2 and progressed into a very good fighter.
Part of why Nishida did so badly early as a professional is because he's a slow starter. He's a pressure fighter who needs time to make his physical advantages matter, and instead of starting fights fast he grinds down opponents as the fight goes on. That has seen him score very domestic level wins over the likes of Kazuhiko Hidaka, Makoto Fuchigami, twice, and Hideo Mikan.
Aged 28 Nishida is physical, tough, youthful and a real handful. He also managed to give Shibata a very tough time in their first bout, back in 2014, and has improved since then.
We think stylistically Shibata should be favoured, however we see this one being a very tough one for the champion, who will have to dig deep in the later stages against a very determined challenger.