Japanese sensation Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) made a statement earlier this year when he stopped Juan Hernandez to claim the WBC Flyweight title. Today he managed to establish his reign a little bit more as he recorded his first defense, and stopped French challenger Thomas Masson (17-4-1, 5), who had never previously been stopped.
When the men were in the ring Higa looked really short compared to the challenger, and it was clear that Masson's gameplan was to keep it long and make Higa work especially hard to get inside. Sadly for the challenger the gameplan never really worked and Higa was finding it far too easy to get inside the Frenchman. To his credit Masson did show a tight defense, but shots form Higa, which were through in combinations up close, still sneaked through and did their work on the body and head of Masson.
Round by round Higa pressed more, and got more and more success, with each round taking it's toll on the challenger who showed nice touches in rounds 2 and 3, neither of which he won, butsimply lacked the fire power to get Higa's respect or the movement to avoid Higa's pressure. It didn't matter what Masson did, he still couldn't find much breathing space or avoid the champion for long enough to really regroup.
After 4 rounds the open scoring was 40-36, twice, and 39-37, with one judge some how managing to find a round to give to Masson. Sadly for Masson things only got worse and in round 5 Higa not only continued his pressure but also landed two huge counters, both of which rocked Masson's legs and seemed to be the start of the end for the Frenchman.
In round 6 Masson took an absolute pounding. Hige upped the ante, pressing more than he had earlier in the fight, and it was arguably a10-8 round with Masson being backed up from around the ring and needing to eat flurry after flurry of shots. Where as he was blocking most shots earlier on he was beginning to eat these clean and was paying the price as the power of Higa was taking it's toll. It looked like a stoppage was coming at a number of points during the round,but Masson's toughness kept him in there to the bell.
The assault from Higa continued in round 7 before Masson took a knee, it seemed a bizarre as it had come a while after he had last taken a shot, but it made sense when Masson's face was shown to TV camera's and he had bloody around his eye. A doctor's inspection followed and after a few moments the bout was waved off, with Masson's eye being the cause of the TKO.
Next for Higa is likely to be either Andrew Selby or Muhammad Waseem in the near year, though the reality is that neither man would be given much of a chance as Higa seeks a Japanese record tying 15th successive stoppage. For Masson the bout showed the difference between European class, which he is a 2-time champion at, and world class. He had moments, but they were few and far between and he could never get Higa's respect, something a fighter will need to beat him.
World Title Results
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