It can be strange to think that some fighters who win Linear titles, essentially meaning they are the man who beat the man who beat the man, but are regarded as little more than transitional champions of sorts. One great example of this is Japan's Toshiyuki Igarashi.
Igarashi had competed at the 2004 Olympics and he had been a stellar fighter on the Japanese domestic amateur scene before heading to the professional ranks in 2006. The expectations were on his shoulders early on with Teiken having big hopes for him as a new Flyweight star. He ticked all the boxes. He was young, 22 when he made his debut, talented, a great amateur, and a southpaw with a good frame for the weight.
Sadly Igarashi's career was overshadowed in the end by another Teiken southpaw who debuted in 2006, Shinsuke Yamanaka, but he went on to have a decent, if some what underwhelming, career of his own. And today we look at the 5 most significant wins for... Toshiyuki Igarashi.
Tomoya Kaneshiro (August 2nd 2008)
The first win of real note on Igarashi's record came in August 2008, less than 2 years after his professional debut, and saw him take a split decision win over Tomoya Kaneshiro for "interim" Japanese Flyweight title. The win was Igarashi's first against an opponent coming to win but it was more than that. Kaneshiro had been a former Rookie of the Year winner, had lost just once in 15 bouts and had genuinely wanted to win the interim title. He gave as good as he got, and pushed Igarashi 10 rounds for the first time in Igarashi's career. The bout saw Igarashi being tested, and only narrowly coming out on top in what was a very hotly contested bout. The win also lead Igarashi to get a shot at regular champion Tomonbu Shimizu in December 2008, which he sadly lost.
Takayasu Kobayashi (February 5th 2011)
More than 2 years after losing to Tomonobu Shimizu we saw Igarashi get his second shot at a full Japanese title, as he took on Takayasu Kobayashi in February 2011. The title had been vacated by Shimizu, who was head for bigger things with a world title in his eyes, and Igarashi was getting a shot. This time Igarashi made the most of his shot, stopping Kobayashi in 3 rounds to claim the title. Whilst Kobayashi isn't a notable fighter himself the win, netting Igarashi title title, is a huge victory and certainly one of his most significant victories. It was also a victory that proved he had connected with the Japanese fans who were incredibly loud through the bout.
Wilbert Uicab (November 6th 2011)
After defending the Japanese title just once, with a technical decision win over Kenji Yoshida, we saw Igarashi step up again and take on Mexican Wilbert Uicab in a WBC world title eliminator. This really was a big step up for Igarashi and wasn't the most exciting of contests, with the styles not really clicking very well early on, and the bout becoming quite messy late on. Despite the style of the fight not being the most entertaining, and seeing Uicab being the one who brought the fight, it did result in a close decision win for Igarashi who became the mandatory for the WBC Flyweight title. This mean he had secure his first world title fight, and was finally on the verge of living up to the expectations Teiken had for him early on.
Sonny Boy Jaro (July 16th 2012)
When Igarashi beat Uicab to become the mandatory challenger the WBC Flyweight champion was the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Whilst Igarashi was waiting for his shot Wonjongkam was surprisingly upset, in March 2012, by Filipino Sonny Boy Jaro. Just 4 months after that bit win Jaro headed off to face Igarashi in Japan in a mandatory defense. As with many Igarashi bouts with was a close contest with Igarashi to work at range, showing some of his amateur skills but never really hurting Jaro, who looked to land the bigger single shots, and caught the eye with some booming right hands. This was a lot more entertaining than some Igarashi fights, and he did look fantastically skilled at times, but the key thing here was that Igarashi had claimed the WBC and Linear Flyweight throne. He was now the man at Flyweight.
Nestor Daniel Narvaes (November 3rd 2012)
Sadly for Igarashi his reign was a short one with only a single successful defense, with that coming against Nestor Daniel Narvaes in November 2012. On paper this was an easy first defense but it needed up being a really close, and oddly compelling, contest with both men being deducted points for headclashes, both men being bloodied and both men genuinely giving a good account of themselves. Sadly the bout proved what many had come to to expect. Igarashi simply wasn't elite level, and was struggling to get past fighters like Narvaes.
After 12 rounds Igarashi got the majority decision but his reign wouldn't last much longer with Akira Yaegashi dethroning him in April 2013.
After losing to Yaegashi we never really saw what Igarashi could do again. He continued on but wasn't the same fighter due recurring injuries and a lot of bouts that ended following head clashes. After the loss to Yaegashi we saw Igarashi go 6-2-1 (2) with 4 bouts ending in technical decisions, before he lost at the end of 2017 to Sho Kimura in what was Igarashi's final bout.
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