Daigo Higa to return in November!
Earlier today it was announced that former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (18-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] would be back in the ring later this year, with a press conference announcing that he would be facing in form Thai fighter Songsaeng Phoyaem (18-2, 12) on November 15th at Korakuen Hall.
The bout, scheduled for 10 rounds at Bantamweight, will be Higa's 2nd contest since losing to Ryosuke Nishida in April 2021. Sadly for Higa his most recent bout saw him narrowly over-come Froilan Saludar, in a bout that saw Higa dropped before gritting out a split decision win, in a performance that seemed to suggest Higa was very much on the downside of his career. Although only 27 he certainly seems to have lost a lot with his forced move from Flyweight to Bantamweight and it's hard to really ever see him making a major mark at 118lbs.
As for Songsaeng, the 22 year old Thai is ranked by the regional WBO Asia Pacific body at Super Bantamweight, and will be moving down in weight for this bout. Both of his losses so far have come in Japan, and both by stoppage, however he is currently riding a 12 fight winning record, and is unbeaten for over 3 years, with his last loss coming when he was 19. Whilst his 12 fight winning run sounds impressive his competition in those wins has been really poor. On paper this is a big step up for him, but he certainly has the momentum.
Also announced for this card were several other Japan Vs Thailand bouts, including the second bout for Toshihiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) [鈴木稔弘]. who debuted in August. He will be up against Attanon Kunlawong (17-8-1, 13), in what is a very, very good looking bout over 6 rounds.
The first bout of the show saw former female All Japan Amateur Champion Satsuki Ito (1-0) [伊藤 沙月] kick off her professional campaign with a straight forward victory over Thai visitor Saowaluk Nareepangsri (11-19, 5), who is trained by former world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha. From the off Ito was measured, fighting behind her jab, and looking to land right hands against her smaller foe. The Thai proved to tag clean, due to her diminutive stature, but she also provided little offense. By round 4 Ito decided to change tactics, going to the body more, and having success as a result. Knowing she was behind Saowaluk came out swinging more in round 6, but that gave Ito more chances as she eased to a clear victory on debut.
The second bout also saw a successful debut for a Japanese fighter as former amateur star Hayato Tsutsumi (1-0) [堤 駿斗] took a wide 8 round decision over upset minded Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino (23-14-1, 13). On paper this was a serious test for Tsutsumi, against a man with a reputation for destroying unbeaten records. Tsutsumi seemed to be aware of Gemino's reputation and boxed well using crisp, clean punches to get Geminoi's respect, including a nasty straight right in the opening round, and several solid left hooks in round 2. Gemino began to get going in round 3, though struggled to land much clean as Tsutsumi's guard did well, and he also managed to land some good body shots through the round. Gemino continued to try and press the action in round 4, though got caught by some nasty shots as Tsutusmi showed great composure and a good boxing brain. The final rounds saw Tsutsumi slow down somewhat, but still pick apart Gemino with clean, effective, counter shots, especially right hands. Gemino took them without ever looking hurt, but he was also never really competitive. After 8 rounds two judges had this a shut out, whilst the third judge gave Gemino a single round, as Tsutusmi got his professional career off to a very good start, against the #5 ranked OPBF Featherweight contender.
The third bout also went the distance, and saw Japan go 2-0 against the Philippines, as Musashi Mori (13-1, 7) [森 武蔵] took a hard fought 8 round decision against the hard hitting Presco Carcosia (10-2-1, 9). Mori seemed to start well, getting into a groove early on and showed an educated lead hand. He was however under pressure with Carcosia having moments through out the middle portion of the bout, and looking very dangerous with his over-hand rights. Mori, to his credit, never seemed in too much trouble, but Carcosia seemed like the type of fighter who only needed to land clean once to cause problems, and Mori know it. In the 8th round Carcosia found out he wasn't the only one with some power, as Mori managed to drop the Filipino in the later stages of the fight, to score the only knockdown of the bout. The knockdown came from an attack to the body, but their wasn't enough time after the knockdown for Mori to jump on Carcosia, who looked about spent. After 8 rounds the scored were 80-71, 78-73 and 77-74 all in favour of Mori.
Things were much, much, much tougher for former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (18-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾], who narrowly over-came former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (32-6-1, 22), and had to go through hell to take home the win with a split decision. Higa looked aggressive early on, but it wasn't long until Saludar began to relax, create space and landed some clean shots of his own, showing that he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. Higa's aggression would see the two men come close, and in round 3 that left him suffering a cut over the right eye from a clash of heads, that seemed to bother him as Saludar landed some solid shots through the round.
Things went from bad to worse for Higa who would find himself on the canvas in round 4, as a huge right hook dropped the former champion, who barely survived the round, and was forced to hold on. Had the knockdown happened early in the round there is a real chance Higa would have ended up being dropped a second time, but he gritted it out. From there on he seemed to become more defensively responsible, whilst pressing, using his stamina and hunger to try and turn things around. That drive from Higa was incredible and in round 7 he had Saludar in all sorts of trouble, as the Filipino seemed to be running close to empty. Saludar was again under intense pressure in the final round, as Saludar did what he could to survive the whirlwind assault of Higa. After 8 rounds it felt incredibly close, with a real sense that Higa might have lost. On the scorecards one judge had the bout 77-75 to Saludar, though thankfully for Higa that judge was over-ruled by scores of 76-75 and 76-74 in favour of Higa.
Worrying for Higa this bout, like his loss to Ryosuke Nishida, shows he's not a natural Bantamweight, and his future really is limited at the weight. As for Saludar this performance was a really solid one, and despite losing 3 of his last 4, he is still very much a gate keeper, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him landing more notable bouts on the back of this performance.
In just over a week's time we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] take on Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), in what is a much anticipated rematch between two men who clashed at the end of 2018.
Today, ahead of that clash, Ioka took part in a public work out.
The session saw going through some stretches and other basic exercises, whilst ducking and moving under some ropes and showing off a sharp 1-2.
The work out was surprisingly basic and not a great example of what Ioka has got in his locker for the bout, though it's fair to say that the work has been going on behind the scenes. In fact it was revealed that he has spent over 100 rounds sparring for the bout, spending time in the ring with former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] and Jukiya Iimura (3-0, 1) [飯村樹輝弥].
Notably Ioka has been communicating online with training Ismael Salas, who will arrivie in Japan a few days before the bout, and will work his corner against Neites. We dare say that Salas and the team have set a smart game plan to over-come the intelligent, though now 40 year old Nietes.
Ioka Vs Nietes II under-card announced, featuring Higa, Mori and Tsutsumi's debut!
At the start of June WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] held a press conference and announced the date of his rematch with Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), which we know is now set for July 13th. Today we saw the main under-card for the show being announced and unsurprisingly the show will act as a showcase of Shisei Gym fighters.
The chief support bout for the show will see former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (32-5-1, 22) in a scheduled 8 rounder at Bantamweight. For Higa this is a must win after losing his most recent bout against Ryosuke Nishida, and knowing that another loss, especially to someone like Saludar, would end any hopes of him getting another world title fight. Sadly for Higa he is a long way removed to the fighter who was 15-0 (15) and much of his appeal has faded since losing the WBC Flyweight title to Cristofer Rosales. As for Saludar he's still very serviceable as a regional contender, and even with 5 losses he's proven his worth, only losing to Andrew Moloney, Ryoji Fukunaga, Sho Kimura, who was the then WBO Flyweight champion, Takuma Inoue and McWilliams Arroyo. Saludar is no push over but will go into this as the clear under-dog.
Another major supporting bout will see former regional champion Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] take on big punching Filipino Presco Carcosia (10-1-1, 9) in a really solid 8 round Super Featherweight match up. For Mori the bout marks his first since a May 2021 loss to Satoshi Shimizu, in what was a well contested bout against the Olympic Bronze medal winner, and it'll be interesting to see how he looks after more than a year of inactivity. As for Carcosia his wins have come at a low level, on the domestic Filipino scene, but he did show how good he was in his sole defeat, losing a split decision in Australia to Jai Alexander. The bout should serve as a genuine test for both men, and a good chance to see what Mori is like at 130lbs.
The real talking point for this card, other than the main event, is the highly anticipated debut of former Japanese amateur standout Hayato Tsutsumi (0-0) [堤駿斗]. Tsutsumi will begin his career in an 8 round Featherweight clash against well travelled Filipino Jhon Gemino (23-13-1, 13). Tsutusmi was a genuinely sensational Japanese amateur, and will go in to this bout with a lot of pressure on him to not just win, but to win in style. Gemnino on the other hand will look to play his usual role of upset minded nightmare. Although his record might not suggest it, Gemnino is a genuine banana skin for really good fighters, and he has upset fighters on the road before with wins against the likes of Arnold Alejandro (then 11-0), Carlos Ornelas (then 22-1), Sho Nakazawa (then 11-2), Toka Kahn Clary (then 19-0), Toto Helebe (then 17-6). This is a dangerous debut for Tsutsumi, but a win immediately puts him in the mix for regional titles, with Gemino entering ranked highly by the OPBF.
Throughout this past week Japanese fight fans have been getting excited about the scheduled WBO Minimumweight title bout, putting champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] against hard hitting challenger Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] in what was set to be Taniguchi’s first defense since he winning the title late last year, stopping Wilfredo Mendez. The bout was a much anticipated one, and wasn’t just set to be Taniguchi’s maiden defense, but also a great chance to Ishizawa to avenge his first, and so far only, professional defeat.
Sadly however today saw a massive wrench thrown into the bout that hasn’t cancelled it, yet, but does leave the bout hanging by a thread after a massive mishap on the scales this morning.
The champion had no issues at all making the 105lb limit, coming in bang the divisional limit and looking strong in the process. The same could not be said for Ishizawa.
On the scales the challenger came in at a ridiculous 110.4lbs, well over not just the Minimumweight limit but also the Light Flyweight limit. He was then given 2 hours to shift the weight, and could only manage to lose a small amount, coming in at 110lbs on his second attempt at the weight. Missing by so much could have seen the bout cancelled, but instead the bout is still on, albeit on certain conditions, and certainly not for the title.
The bout will be cancelled all together if Ishizawa weighs more than 111.5lbs tomorrow in a weigh in at the JBC’s office in Tokyo at 17:30. If he comes in on or under the limit the bout will go ahead as a non-title bout, which would be better than the bout being scrapped. If however he misses weight the bout will be cancelled.
Interestingly Taniguchi’s team revealed that their man had originally been threatening to walk away from the bout if Ishizawa failed to lose 1KG today, with Ishizawa then only able to lose 200G, the new weight limit was set for tomorrow.
It’s been reported that Ishizawa struggled to make weight due to illness, stating "I got sick yesterday morning and couldn't move. I tried to do training again at night, but I couldn't do much and the result was like this." Given that there’s also a chance that Ishizawa flat out pulls out of the bout over-night. Rather astonishingly he becomes the first Japanese world title challenger to fail to make weight, and this is only the second time a Japanese fighter has ever missed weight for a world title fight, with the other being Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] in 2018.
Notably if the bout does go ahead and Ishizawa wins, the WBO rules dictate that the title will become vacant.
Related - Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
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