The current era of Japanese youngsters is brilliant, and there is no doubting that we are witnessing a golden age of Japanese boxing with so much young talent in the country. Among the most impressive of those fighters is WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15), who has a perfect KO record and is quickly proving himself as one of the most destructive fighters in the sport. This coming Sunday Higa will be returning to the ring as he hunts his third defense of the title, and takes on Nicaraguan challenger Cristofer Rosales (26-3, 17) in Kanagawa. Not only will it be Higa's 3rd defense, but another stoppage win will see him take the #1 spot on the Japanese all time record for most consecutive KO's. For Rosales it will be a chance to become a world champion, and follow in the footsteps of other great Nicaraguan's like Roman Gonzalez and Alexis Arguello.
Higa's rise has been one of the best in Japan. Unlike Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, who were both amazing amateur's, Higa's rise has been somewhat unexpected but truly fantastic. Having made his debut in the summer of 2014 Higa was a bit an unknown until his 2015 win over Kongfah CP Freshmart in Thailand. Since then he has made statement, after statement, stopping Ardin Diale in 4 rounds for the OPBF Flyweight title, blasting out Juan Hernandez in 6 rounds for the WBC title and recently stopping Moises Fuentes inside a round.
In the ring Higa is a little monster. He's a busy, accurate, hard hitting pressure fighter who brings the pressure from the off, has an under-rated jab and throws beautifully vicious combinations and body shots. Offensively the champion is a machine, and looks similar in style to a prime Roman Gonzalez, with his pressure, footwork and destructive combinations. Defensively however he's a bit flawed. He can be caught, he be out manoeuvred and he has been caught once or twice early in a fight. He's not shown any issues with his chin, and does take few shots clean, but there is holes there that could encourage future opponents.
Aged 23 Rosales is already a young veteran, with this bout set to be his 30th in less than 5 years! That sounds impressive but only tells half of the story about the man from Managua. His first loss, in just his 3rd bout, came to Keyvin Lara, who challenged Kazuto Ioka in 2016 and put up a really good effort, his second loss was in a somewhat competitive contest to current WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai whilst his most recent loss was to Andrew Selby, in a much more competitive bout than the score cards suggest. As well as those losses Rosales has shown his ability with wins against the likes of Eliecer Quezada, Martin Tecuapetla and Mohammad Obbadi.
Rosales is an aggressive fighter, but not in the same out and out pressure style as Higa. Instead he's a bit more of a boxer-puncher, with very solid power, good boxing skills and the ability to fight at range of up close. He's a very tough and dangerous fighter, and the scare he gave Andrew Selby showed how good he really is. He may not have his name in the mix a top tier fighter, but that's more because of how over-looked he is rather than how good he is.
Rosales is a really dangerous and tough opponent. He's not going to b there to lose, to look for a way out or to come out second best. Instead he's travelling to win, and make the most of this voluntary title fight. It's a very risky move from Higa's team to face someone as dangerous as Rosales but it's clear that the champion wants tough opponents and wants to increase his profile by beating top fighters. Despite how good Rosales is, we thing Higa is something very special. Rosales won't travel to Japan to lose, but Higa will take the decision out of his hands, and will break him down with body shots to break through the resolve of Rosales, in similar fashion to Hiroto Kyoguchi's win against Carlos Buitrago late last year.
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.