One of the big Japanese success stories of 2017 was Flyweight sensation Daigo Higa (14-0, 14), ho claimed the WBC Flyweight title in May and recorded his first defense in October. Not only did he win and defend the title, but he did so in impressive fashion, stopping both Juan Hernande Navarrete and Thomas Masson in a combined 13 rounds, to continue his perfect KO run. This coming Sunday Higa will be looking to extend his perfect run as he takes on former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14) in what will be his second world title defense.
If you've missed Higa's rise over the last few years there really is no excuse to continue turning a blind eye to one of the sports most exciting and destructive fighters. The 22 year old Okinawan debuted in June 2014 and blew out his first 5 opponents in the first 2 rounds. He took his first step up in June 2015 and stopped Cris Alfante in 4 rounds before travelling to Thailand and stopping Kongfah CP Freshmart in 7 rounds to claim the WBC Youth Flyweight title. He would defend that title twice before moving up in class to claim the OPBF title in 2016 and then move up again to claim the WBC title last year.
Stood at just over 5'3” Higa is a little ball of destruction similar to a prime Roman Gonzalez. For those who were fans of Gonzalez it'd be hard to not be excited by Higa who has a very similar style based on intense pressure, vicious combinations and an under-rated defensive skills. Not only does he have an aggressive style but he has the devastating power to go with it, and his shots all look like they have incredible power on them, despite the fact he never looks like he's forcing things. Instead everything just naturally flows, including some brilliant triple hook combinations.
Not only has Higa shown his destructive style, his toughness, and desire but he's never looked hurt during his career, despite having a tooth damaged in his title win, and has shown impressive stamina, going 10 rounds against Renren Tesorio in 2015. Although he was widely in charge against Tesorio he refused to risk his perfect KO record and continued hunting the stoppage until the referee was forced to save the Filipino.
Mexican fighter Fuentes is 30 years old but is an old professional having made his debut in May 2007. He started his career with a 12 fight winning run before losing a split decision to Juan Hernandez Navarette in 2011. Despite the set back against Hernandez it didn't take long for Fuentes to get back to winning ways and just 6 months later he would beat Raul Garcia by split decision for the WBO Minimumweight title. As the world champion he would defend the belt twice, stopping both Julio Cesar Felix and Ivan Calderon before moving up in weight. At 108lbs Fuentes' natural size stopped being a huge advantage and he would go 0-1-1 against Donnie Nietes in bouts for the WBO title. He did manage to score some good wins following those losses, including wins against Oswaldo Novoa and Francisco Rodriguez Jr, but looked totally shot when he faced Kosei Tanaka at the end of 2016.
Sadly since the Tanaka bout it's been hard to really know what Fuentes has left, as he's gone 1-1 with Ulises Solis. Going on the Tanaka bout, there was nearly nothing left. It seemed the same when he was stopped by Nietes in their second bout as well. It could well be that he's shot, or it could have been that he was taking too much out of himself to make 108lbs. Whatever the reason it does seem like he's not the fighter he once was.
Although Fuentes at his best was a nightmare, a big strong, aggressive tank, who came forward and let his hands go, we don't believe he's even close to being that fighter. Instead we see him as a shot fighter, and the next victim of the Higa express. Fuentes might be able to pose some problems early on, but we can't see him lasting too long with against Higa's aggression and power.
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.