When we talk about exciting little fighters who can brawl or box few really rival Akira Yaegashi (19-3, 9). The WBC Flyweight champion won his first world title, the WBC Minimumweight title, by going to war with Pornsawan Porpramook, he lost that title in a thrilling war with Kazuto Ioka before moving to Flyweight to beat Toshiyuki Igarashi in a bloody battle.
Since winning the Flyweight title however Yaegashi has used his speed rather than his toughness to defend his title twice, including a notable victory over Edgar Sosa that saw Sosa often chasing shadows.
On April 6th Yaegashi will be hunting the third defense of his title has faces a third successive Mexican. After defending against Oscar Blanquet and Sosa, as mentioned above, he will now be facing Odilon Zaleta (15-3, 8).
Unfortunately after beating Sosa we'd hoped Yaegashi would be facing a top challenger, in Zaleta we are a bit disappointed, especially considering Zaleta's recent form which has consisted of 2 losses in his last 3 bouts.
Those losses of Zaleta have come to well known names in the form of Luis Concepcion, who stopped Zaleta in 2 rounds, and Mario Rodriguez, who took a split decision over Zaleta last time out. Unfortunately when we consider that Katsunari Takayama made Rodriguez look foolish and Rodriguez then beat Zaleta it's fair to say that Zaleta probably shouldn't be fighting for a world, at least not at the moment.
From footage of Zaleta he appears to be relatively slow, not all that aggressive, not the toughest but when he connects clean, as he did on Armando Torres last time out, he can clean an opponents clock. Although the power perhaps isn't reflected on his record he does seem to have a genuine thud on his shots. Unfortunately however that thud perhaps isn't applied properly a lot of the time with his actual punching form often looking poor, wide, wild and not particularly correct.
Against Yaegashi you need to either be able to completely out box him, something that hasn't been done since Eagle Den Junlaphan did it almost 7 years ago, or hit so hard and so fast that you refuse to let him get into any sort of a rhythm and swell up his eyes which often appear to be his key weakness.
When you consider that Eagle Den's victory over Yaegashi, back in 2007, is the only "clean" loss in 22 fights you do appreciate how difficult it is to beat him and both of his other losses have been razor thin.
If we're critical Yaegashi has two weaknesses. Firstly his eyes, as mentioned before, swell up really badly this could lead him to one day suffering a TKO defeat due to the swelling. The second is his lack of power. Whilst he can brawl and hold his own in a fight he's not going to take fighters out with a single shot, especially not at Flyweight. Back when he was an amateur he was a light puncher with just 15 stoppages in 70 fights and as a professional he's stopped just 2 of his last 10 opponents with both of those stoppages coming late in the bouts.
Against Zaleta we can't really see either of Yaegashi's "weaknesses" coming to the fore. Instead we expect the Japanese fighter to fight as a the boxer, get on the move and counter Zaleta's often clumsy looking shots. We might see a war break out late on if Yaegashi wants to make a statement, though it's more likely that the victory is the key here as opposed to putting on a show.
The reason why we think Yaegashi will be happy with a boring safety first win is that he knows a very tough assignment is just around the corner with Roman "El Chocolatito" Gonzalez. The idea is that if Yaegashi wins and Gonzalez wins on the undercard the two men will fight later this year in what would have to be described as a Flyweight super fight. It may not be a unification contest or anything like that but it's about as good a fight as you can make at any weight and a bout we hope comes off as expected in the fall.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.