The second fighter we featured in our "Introducing..." series was the then 19 year old Ginjiro Shigeoka (then 1-0, 1) he had made his debut in September 2018, and looked sensational in stopping Sanchai Yotboon in 3 rounds. Now, more than a year on, we'll "Revisit" Shigeoka and see how his career has gone since we introduced him in January 2019.
Following his debut expectations were high for Shigeoka heading in 20219 and he exceeded those expectations with a sensational year that saw him move from novice professional to world ranked fighter. Watanabe Gym, clearly aware of the talent they had on their hands, strapped a rocket to him and he, more than any other fighter in the Introducing series last year, moved through the rankings in a way that got a lot of attention. In fact he got to much attention that towards the end of 2019 he was featured in Anson Wainwright's excellent "New Faces" series on Ring's website, with that being available to read here.
So since we first looked at Shigeoka was has he done? Well the youngster has gone from 1-0 (1) to 5-0 (4), taken his first professional world title, stopped a former world title challenger, turned 20 and announced himself in the world rankings. Not a year at all for the former amateur standout.
Shigeoka's 2019 kicked off with an opening round win over Gerttipong Kumsahwat, in what was an easy second pro bout for the youngster. That was followed up quickly with a decision win over the tough Joel Lino. Although Lino is no world beater he has been proving himself as a capable fringe regional level fighter and gave Masataka Taniguchi 12 good rounds in 2018 and later went on to give Toto Landero a really good test before stopping Arar Andales. A win over Lino in just his third bout was excellent and a clear sign of how good Shigeoka was, despite failing to secure the stoppage. In fact by taking a decision over Lino we saw Shigeoka answer some questions, such as proving he can fight over 8 rounds and had a back up for when his power wasn't too much for an opponent.
In July 2019 Shigeoka got his first title fight, taking on Clyde Azarcon for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title. Up to this point Azarcon was 15-2-1, he had never been stopped and had mixed it with good competition, losing a close decision to Rene Mark Cuarto less than a year earlier. He was expected to be a test for Shigeoka, but instead the Japanese wunderkind just blitzed in 72 seconds, closing the show with a truly brutal body shot. This win was just 10 months after Shigeoka had made his debut, and saw him becoming one of the very few Japanese fighters to win their first title in 4 fights and in less than 12 months from their debut.
Since winning the WBO Asia Pacific title Shigeoka has defended it once, stopping former world title challenger Rey Loreto in 5 rounds at the end of December. The Japanese youngster dropped Loreto in the first round, and again in round 5, before Katsuhiko Nakamura stopped the bout. Loreto was on his feet at the time of the stoppage, but the decision was made by Nakamura to save the Filipino from any further punishment.
After the win over Loreto we saw Shigeoka break into the top 10 with the WBA and the top 15 with the WBC and WBO.
At the time of writing it's unclear when Shigeoka will be fighting again, through it's expected to be in late Spring 2020, potentially against a fellow world ranked fighter as he begins his climb towards a world title fight. The youngster seems confident he could handle himself against a world champion, though his team have apparently suggested he gets a bit more experience first. With that in mind we would expect Watanabe to match him with world ranked fighters to prepare him for a shot in late 2020, potentially at the very end of the year.
In the ring Shigeoka is proving to be an explosive fighter who can box or bang. He looks much better on the front foot than the back foot, giving him an area where improvements can be made before getting a world title fight. The most impressive thing about him is his power, which is incredible for such a youngster in the Minimumweight division.
We do have worries, still, about Shigeoka moving up in weight, but he looks a star in the making at 105lbs and is talking like a fighter who wants to dominate a single weight class, rather than moving up the scales. To us that's a good sign, and shows that the youngster knows his frame isn't suited to a move up in weight, where he would be up against taller and longer fighters, rather than being over confident and pushing himself in a direction that isn't suited to him and his career.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces