The Flyweight division in recent times has been one of the best, with great bouts and amazing depth at the top. Sadly last year we saw the division being left in a mess with Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Johnriel Casimero all abandoning the division and leaving most of the titles vacant the division a disappointing mess. Thankfully the titles have slowly found new owners, with Zou Shiming claiming the WBO title, Donnie Nietes recently winning the IBF belt and Juan Hernandez Navarrete (34-2, 25) claiming the WBC title.
This coming Saturday we see Hernandez making his first defense of the title as he takes on Japanese sensation Daigo Higa (12-0, 12), a wrecking on the Japanese and Oriental scene. For champion it's a tough mandatory against one of the rising stars of Japanese boxing, whilst Higa gets a chance to prove himself on the world in what is a huge step up. For us, the fans, the bout is nothing short of a mouth watering clash between exciting world class boxer-puncher and one of the most exciting pressure fighters in the sport today.
Two men Hernandez is the more well known, by far, when it comes to international fans. The Mexican first began to make a mark years ago, and really became a contender in 2010, when he scored wins over Armando Vazquez, Danver Cuello and Moises Fuentes. That strong of wins lead to Hernandez getting a show at the then WBC Minimumweight champion Kazuto Ioka, with Ioka taking a well earned decision over Mexican.
Since losing to Ioka back in March 2012 we've seen Hernandez go on a brilliant 16-0 (12) run. Whilst the numbers look impressive by them selves it's the competition that has really made that run. He has scored wins over the likes of Saul Juarez, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Jesus Silvestre, Omar Nino Romero and Nawaphon Por Chokchai during that run, with the win over Nawaphon netting the Mexican the WBC title. That run has seen Hernandez stop his last 6 foes in a combined 16 rounds and really look like a truly world class Flyweight.
Last time out, against Nawaphon, we saw Hernandez look sensational. He looked smooth boxing early on then turned up the heat in round 3 and hurt Nawaphon before hinting a finish which came following a real barrage of shots. He showed a bit of everything during the bout, speed, skills, power and killer instinct in what was a really good showing and one that came on enemy soil.
For those who haven't seen Higa, and his rise through the ranks, you've been missing out on one of the sports most exciting talents. He's an out and out pressure fighter with a style reminiscent of Roman Gonzalez, with the similarities resulting in Higa being dubbed the “Romagon of Okinawa”. He's doesn't go into the ring to win, but instead he goes there to beat people up, and do it in a fun, exciting manner, like his mentor Yoko Gushiken. Despite being such a destructive fighter he's only 21 and is a boxing baby with just 42 professional rounds.
Higa's early career went pretty under the radar though in 2015 he did get some notable attention as he travelled to Thailand and battered Kongfah CP Freshmart in 7 rounds for the WBC Youth Flyweight title. It was a thrilling bout and one that really did capture the attention of fans who hadn't previously seen Higa. The Japanese warrior defended the WBC Youth title twice, including a 10th round TKO win over gutsy Filipino Renren Tesorio, before claiming the OPBF title last year with a 4th round KO against Ardin Diale, in a brilliant showing.
Higa has steam rolled through his foes so far. He's put them all under pressure and they have all broken due to his combinations, power and physical strength. It's been great fun watching his rise an it's been one that has seen him improve, and improve, both as a fighter and as a young man. In fact watching him transition from a boy to a man has been brilliant to see. This is however a massive leap up in class and the first time he's taken on a true world class all rounder, and one who has developed into one of the leading Flyweights on the planet.
We'd love for Higa to win, we've cheer lead him since his 4th bout, against Samruai Mungwong in January 2015,but we think might be too much too soon. We certainly believe he has the power to hurt Hernandez, and probably also has the speed and combinations to break down anyone in the division, but we think that Hernandez will have too much know how too much movement and too much skill, at the moment, for Higa. It could end up looking like a man against a boy, sadly for Higa, though we suspect the youngster will learn so much from having time in the ring with Hernandez.
Whilst we really do want to see Higa win, and break out on the world stage, we think Hernandez will just be too good at the moment for the Japanese youngster.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.