After almost 2 years out of the ring we finally see the return of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15), as he competes in an 8 round bout at 119lbs against Filipino Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3). On paper this is a very, very, easy bout for Higa but given his long lay off, 22 months, and the move up in weight it's still a very interesting fight and a great chance to see how Higa looks as he begins a new chapter of his career with a new trainer. It also gives Buenaobra a great chance to make a name for himself.
For those who haven't seen Higa you've missed out! The Yoko Gushiken protege is one of the most exciting fighters on the planet. He's very much a fighter who has taken clear influence from Roman Gonzalez. Like Gonzalez the once beaten Higa is a heavy handed, exciting pressure fighter, who cuts the ring off well, lets combinations go on the inside and has under-rated defense. He is all action, and a thrill a minute fighter to watch who is now being trained by former world champion Tadashi Tomori.
Sadly Higa's career was curtailed in 2018 when he failed to make weight for a WBC Flyweight title defense, losing the belt on the scales, losing his unbeaten record the following day and later having his Japanese license. That almost lead to him retiring from the sport. Thankfully last year he decided to return to the Shirai Gushiken Gym and since then has decided to return to the ring, which gets us to where we are now.
At his best Higa was a steam roller. His first 15 bouts all ended with Higa stopping his opponents, and taking out the likes of Kongfah CP Freshmart, Ardin Diale, Juan Hernandez Navarrete, Thomas Masson and Moises Fuentes. In his last bout however he looked a shadow of his usual self before his team threw in the towel ending his effort against Cristofer Rosales. Aged just 24 he has a lot of time to rebuild his reputation and with Gushiken and Tomori behind him the plan is for him to be back in the title mix by the end of the year.
Aged 25 Buenaobra is a relative unknown, even among the typical Filipino fans. Despite that the southpaw has faced some fighters of note, and had somewhat mixed results. He's the only fighter to have taken the all action Carl Jammes Martin the distance, lasting 8 rounds with Martin 2017, he also beat the then unbeaten Jerry Pabila and upset Robin Langres, before losing last time out to Joseph Ambo. Although he's a "win some, lose some, draw some" fighter he's not yet suffered a stoppage loss.
Sadly there is very, very little footage of Buenaobra available, so we can't say too much about his style. He is however a southpaw and he'll have a clear height, and likely reach, advantage of Higa. Notably his last 2 bouts both ended early due to headclashes, and 3 of his last 5 have been technical decisions. With that in mind we wouldn't be surprised to see Buenaobra being a tough clumsy when he comes in. Also his suggests a genuine lack of power, and you need to go back to his 5th bout for his last win inside the distance.
Although it's always hard to predict a bout where footage of only 1 man is available it's hard to see anything but a win for Higa. The real question is just how long can Buenaobra last when Higa goes through the gears. We expect Higa to start slowly, take a round or two to ease his way into the bout then increase his pace. Breaking down and stopping the Filipino in the middle of the 8 round contest.
Prediction - TKO5 Higa
November 5th is a hectic day for fight fans who really got so much action that some stuff will simply be over-looked due to the big name fighters on the show in Las Vegas. Before the Las Vegas action, featuring the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and Zou Shiming, we also get the chance to see an OPBF Flyweight title bout, with the all action Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) looking to make the first defense of his title and continue perfect KO run as he takes on Filipino fighter Felipe Cagubcob Jr (6-2-5, 2). On paper this looks like a mismatch, and an easy first defense for Higa, however is it really that straight forward for the destructive champion, or could he actually be tested here?
Of course it makes sense to start this by looking at the champion, who has been dubbed the “Romagon of Okinawa” due to his stylistic similarities to Roman Gonzalez. Higa is an ultra aggressive pressure fighter who, like Gonzalez, cuts the ring off wonderfully, though devastating combinations to both head and body and appears to be more defensively sound than people realise. Not only is he incredibly exciting but his competition has also been impressive in recent years with wins against the likes of Kongfah CP Freshmart, Renren Tesorio and most recently Ardin Diale.
Higa is arguably the most exciting Flyweight on the planet. He's aggressive, exciting and looks for a stoppage in every bout. Whether that run continues right to the top is yet to be seen however he's already becoming a star in Japan with G+ televising his bouts and his mentor Yoko Gushiken helping him with his progression and growing fame.
Although yet to beat a truly world class opponent it does look like Higa is a fighter who will beat a number of the top guys, in fact it looks like he could already beat the likes of Zou Shiming, Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym and numerous other leading contenders. In many ways this coming bout is the next test as he continues to advance towards a world title, but appears to be hunting a defense to prove his championship status before getting a world title fight, likely early next years.
Sadly it's much harder to talk about Cagucob's style than it is about Higa's. Footage of Higa has been easy to come by, with a lot of his bouts being televised, however the Filipino is almost a mystery man in terms of style, with no footage available. That's disappointing however we have been interested in by his record which certainly looks better in reality than the numbers suggest. The 25 year old stopped Donny Mabao in 4 rounds back in July his only losses have been to Jake Bornea and Renz Rosia, and he has fought to draws with Lloyd Jardeliza, twice, and Joey Canoy, all in all not terrible results. He's also a southpaw, we believe the first that Higa will have faced.
Whilst his record is messy it's interesting to see that he has been in great form recently, after a bizarre 1-5-2 start to his professional career. He has since gone 5-0 (2) and has developed from the fighter he was in the early stages of his career. This is however his first fight outside of the Philippines, and only his third fight outside of the Metro Manila region.
With little footage of Cagucob available it's impossible to get a read on his style however to beat Higa he will have to be tough and either be tough enough to win a fire fight up close, protecting himself and finding holes Higa's under-rated defense. Of frustrate and out box Higa, another tough proposition given that Higa cuts off the ring amazingly well. That's not to take say it' impossible to beat Higa in other ways but he does seems like the fighter who will be incredibly difficult to beat and has proven his durability with his war against Kongfah CP Freshmart.
Given that Caguob's sole stoppage loss has come from a body shot, and Higa really does throw some sensational, the probably outcome is that the Filipino will likely be broke down, with the body shots being a key. The Filipino will likely look to fight fire with fire, but we'd be shocked to see him really push Higa here, with the the Japanese fighter being a human steam roller and suspect that will be seen again here.
This weekend we get a number of really good looking bouts, though perhaps the best of them is hidden away on G+ in Japan, and isn't being fought for a world title. In fact the bout in question sees one fighter coming in with 9 losses from 43 bouts and another who has never been the 12 round distance and is “only” for an OPBF title. But there is potential for a genuine FOTY contender to break out, and for the fans at the Korakuen Hall to get another treat this year.
The bout will see OPBF Flyweight champion Ardin Diale (31-9-3, 15) face off against a man dubbed “The Romagon of Okinawa” (The Roman Gonzalez of Okinawa), Daigo Higa (9-0, 9).
Like many Filipino fighters Diale has done things the hard way, he's not had things handed to him and has had to travel through his career with bouts in Thailand, Mexico and Japan. Not only has he travelled but he has faced some top fighters on the road, such as Wanheng Menayothin, Julio Cesar Miranda, Juan Francisco Estrada and Koki Eto. Bouts like those have resulted in Diale suffering 9 losses, 4 by stoppage, but he's proven an ability to be competitive with guys from 105lbs to 115lbs.
Higa on the other hand hasn't been protected, nor have the Shirai Gushiken Sports gym tried to protect his KO run. His first 4 wins were against limited opposition, but when he started stepping up he really did step up stopping decent Filipino's like Cris Alfante and then the promising Kongfah CP Freshmart in Thailand to claim the WBC Youth title. As the WBC youth champion he has recorded two defenses against decent Filipino fighters, including Renren Tesorio, and is now taking a logical next step.
In the ring Diale is a true veteran, in terms of experience, but at 27 is only coming into his physical prime. Yes there are years on the clock for the man who debuted almost a decade ago but those years don't seem to have done him much damage, despite an 8 round war with Koki Eto just over 2 years ago. Incidentally he is on a great run of results, winning his last 8 with 5 stoppages, and claiming the OPBF title last December. This will be his second defense of the title and potentially a chance to score a win over one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing.
Whilst Diale is a veteran with almost 300 rounds and 43 fights to his name Higa is the opposite. He's a 9 fight novice with just 30 rounds under his belt, he's a boxing baby and at just 20 years old he's a long way from fully maturing as a man, or building up his confidence as a person. Despite that he's a terror in the ring with an incredible output, heavy hands, intelligent shot selection and an improving, but still flawed defense.
In terms of technical skills Diale has those. He can genuinely box, he has criminally under-rated power, genuine guts and a real will to win. He perhaps falls short of world class in every category but he's one of those fighters who does almost everything very well, just comes up short at the higher levels. It's an unfortunate position to be but regionally he's a really hard fighter to beat and is 13-2 in the last 48 months, with the losses coming to world ranked fighters Eto and Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, in a controversial one in Thailand.
Technically Higa is flawed, he can be hit and his defenses, although improving, aren't great. That's a problem when you're a hyper-aggressive fighter. But Higa seems to be aware that his best defense is his offense and when that gets going he's a nightmare, swarming fighters with an endless assault of heavy and vicious shots to the head and body. It often seems like he has taken the in-ring spirit of his mentor, Yoko Gushiken from whom he has inherited the "Kanmuriwashi" moniker, and has given it a rebirth.
When they fighters get into the ring we suspect they will meet center ring. Higa looking to take the initiative and unleash his fire power, Diale looking to defense and reel off counters, making the most of the openings Higa will give him and he will give Diale plenty of them. If Higa can take the counters and continue firing back for 10 rounds we think he'll score a late stoppage. Diale however has his sneaky power and he'll hit Higa harder than the youngster has been hit before and if he can discourage the youngster there is a good chance he could turn this into a brilliant win and a genuinely great defense of his title. Either way, we're expecting this one to be the fight of the weekend.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.