Just over a week ago fight fans at Korakuen Hall saw the talented Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) claim his first title, winning the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title with a TKO win against fellow youngster Ryu Horikawa. The win was an impressive one for Shigeoka, who showed his skills, power, strength and speed to overcome a very highly skilled fighter who will almost certainly rebuild from the loss and go on to achieve success of his own.
Aged 23 the future promises a lot for Shigeoka, who can easily make a name for himself at either Minimumweight or Light Flyweight, and follow his brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, to the top of the sport.
With the latest win behind him we've decided to take a look at 5 potential bouts for Shigeoka when he next steps into the ring as we give Shigeoka the "Five For" treatment.
1-Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14)
With Shigeoka getting his first taste of silverware recently we suspect he'll be wanting more, and more. With that in mind we suspect Shigeoka will be taking a look at some of the other title holders at 108lbs and 105lbs. One of the potential options for a senior title would see Shigeoka take on veteran Kenichi Horikawa, the current OPBF Light Flyweight champion. On paper this would be a massive jump up on class for Shigeoka, to take on a genuine battle hardened veteran with more than 50 bouts to his name and over 400 professional rounds. Horikawa is a tough test for anyone on the domestic scene, however at the age of 40 his best days are best him and he is slower than he was. If Shigeoka uses his speed and skills he could end up getting a huge win here against a very well respected veteran.
2-Reiya Konishi (17-3, 7)
Whilst we suspect Shigeoka will be wanting to claim his second professional title an alternative option is that he looks to score a win of note in a non-title bout. If that's an option that he finds exciting then the perfect opponent for the youngster would be former 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi. At his best Konishi is a handful, and he gave Carlos Canizales a really tough bout in 2018, with little to split the two men. Since then however he has looked poor, and losses to Felix Alvarado and Katsunari Takayama in his last two have shown that Konishi is perhaps not the future world champion he once seemed. Takayama's game plan against Konishi showed a tactic that worked and we suspect Shigeoka could replicate that against Konishi to take a clear win. Despite favouring Shigeoka against Konishi, this would be a gut check for the youngster, and just the type of fight he would need to prove himself.
3-Riku Kano (17-4-1, 8)
Going back to the idea of Shigeoka wanting more titles, another potential belt for him to chase is the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. That is currently held by Riku Kano, who won the belt last year with a decision over Ryoki Hirai. Kano was once viewed as a super prospect himself and even fought for a world title when he was just 18, but since then his career has repeatedly faltered and he really needs to build on his title win. With that in mind a Kano may well see a win over Shigeoka as the type of victory that would help boost his career in the right direction. Kano also has the edge in experience and has proven he can go 12 rounds. On the other hand Shigeoka is probably the bigger, stronger man, and he'll be confident that he will have too much for Kano, much like stablemate Shin Ono had a few years ago. We would favour Shigeoka, but this would be close to a 50-50 and a very well matched bout.
4-Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7)
Talking about well matched bouts, one we think could be amazingly well matched would be a contest between Shigeoka and the thunderously hard hitting Kai Ishizawa, with this one taking place at Minimumweight. Ishizawa is a thunderous puncher and a legitimate threat on the Japanese title scene, as we've seen in his bouts against the likes of Tatsuro Nakashima, Yuga Inoue and even Masataka Taniguchi, who he dropped before losing a close decision to. Ishizawa is a dangerous man at 105lbs, and if he catches an opponent clean he can take them out, and that includes Shigeoka. However he can be lazy at times, and he can be out boxed, and Shigeoka has got the size, skills and speed to out box Ishizawa. This would be a great test of boxer vs puncher, and would be a fantastic match up, but would see both men taking a real risk in facing the other man. This, sadly, might be one we need to wait a while for, but boy would we love to see this!
5-Lito Dante (17-11-4, 9) II
The first 4 names on this list are all Japan, and as we write this it seems likely that anyone fighting in Japan will only be able to face Japanese opponents for the foreseeable future, at least if they are fighting at home. If Shigeoka can, however, wait until later in the year to return to the ring the obvious next match up for him would be a rematch with OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante. These two fought in late 2019, when Shigeoka, in his second professional bout, defeated Dante in a 6 rounder. Now, in 2021, it would be great to see Shigeoka face off with Dante once again, this time over 12 rounds for the OPBF title. It would be a serious ask for Shigeoka to beat Dante over the longer distance, but it certainly isn't out of the question for the talented Japanese youngster to keep his range, box, mover and control the pace of the bout. This would be a massive step up from facing Dante over 6 rounders, but we dare say that a win here would suggest that Shigeoka was pretty much ready for a world title fight.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).