There are a lot of fights left this year but possibly the most exciting of those is at Light Flyweight as the always fun to watch Akira Yaegashi (20-4, 10) attempts to become a 3-weight world champion and over-come Mexico's Pedro Guevara (23-1-1, 15) in a bout for the vacant WBC Light Flyweight title. A title which was last held by Yaegashi's stablemate Naoya Inoue, who vacated the belt to campaign at Super Flyweight.
Last time out we saw Yaegashi suffer the first stoppage loss of his career as he was beaten into submission by the exceptional Roman Gonzalez. That bout saw the best from both men though unfortunately for Yaegashi it always seemed that Gonzalez was too strong, too powerful, too sharp and too good. Yaegashi tried his best against though was left a broken fighter who seemed to realise that he was too small and light punching to really compete against the best men at 112lbs.
For those who haven't seen much of Yaegashi he is the sort of fighter that fans should really appreciate. He's speedy and talented though unlike many other speedy fighters he seems to enjoy a fight just as much as the fans. His propensity for a tear up has seen him in thrilling contests with his 2011 bout against Thailand's Pornsawan Porpramook being a FOTY contender just like his 2012 ruckus with compatriot Kazuto Ioka. Both of those bouts showed not only Yaegashi's willingness to fight a war but also the way he seems to force a war, whether it's in his best interest or not.
At Flyweight Yaegashi's main problem was that he lacked genuine fire power. In his 5 title bouts at the weight he scored just a single stoppage, albeit a really good one against Odilon Zaleta. Sadly we suspect that if Yaegashi had power to match his and toughness he would be fighter celebrated worldwide rather than a man only truly appreciated by Japanese fans and the hardcore boxing fans.
Of course it's not just the style and wars that fans enjoy but also Yaegashi's willingness to test himself against the best. It's that willingness to fight all comers that has seen him battle with the likes of Gonzalazs, Ioka, Porpramook, Edgar Sosa, Eagle Den Junlaphan and Toshiyuki Igarashi. That's being seen again here where he's gone from being beaten up by Gonzalez to taking on the dangerous Guevara rather than fight a confidence rebuilding bout against a weaker foe.
So on to the Mexican who at 25 years old is coming into his prime and will be hoping to become a world champion at the second time of asking, having previously fallen short in an IBF title fight with Filipino Johnriel Casimero. In that fight Guevara was stepping up notably in class and it showed early on when he was dropped in the opening round though he did warm to the task and managed to give Casimero a close fight, though not as close as the scorecards indicated.
The bout with Casimero is easily the biggest bout that Guevara has been involved in. He has however been up against several other notable names including Mario Rodriguez, Raul Garcia, Karlius Diaz and Jorle Estrada and beaten all of them. Notably he has faced Rodriguez twice, drawing in their first meeting before dominating in the rematch with a very clear decision. The improvement between those two Rodriguez bouts was clear and on the whole Guevara has been a fighter improving regularly.
Stylistically Guevara shows traits of the great Ricardo Lopez. He boxes, moves, throws sharp and correct shots and looks comfortable on the back foot, something we rarely see in a Mexican fighter. Unlike most Mexican fighters he looks happier at range and boxing rather than up close and brawling. That doesn't he can't stand there and fight but it's not his style or his strength. At a distance he has a nice variety of shots with his left hook to the body, jab and straight right being the key shots in his arsenal.
From what we've seen of both guys we suspect this bout will be won by the man who can control the distance and pacing of the bout. A slow bout fought at range favours Guevara without a doubt. If the Mexican can use his reach and straight shots to stop Yaegashi in his tracks then the title will be going back to Mexico. For Yaegashi to win he has to turn this into a fight, slip the jab and unload his trademark fast flurries on the inside. The Japanese fighter has to make life uncomfortable for the Mexican visitor and if he can do that we suspect we will see Yaegashi becoming just the second Japanese fighter in history to win world titles in 3 weights. If Yaegashi can't get inside then he'll follow in the footsteps of Kazuto Ioka and Hozumi Hasegawa who both failed in their attempts to become 3 weight world champions this year.
(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.