Two of Japan’s top fighters will defend their titles on May 21st in Tokyo’s Ariake Coliseum. WBO Super Flyweight Champion Naoya Inoue takes center stage, facing #2 contender Ricardo Rodriguez, while IBF Light Flyweight Champion Akira Yaegashi squares off with interim champ Milan Melindo.
The card will also feature 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu’s third pro fight.
Inoue (12-0, 10 KO), after fighting just once in 2015 due to injury, went 3-0 in 2016, going the distance with David Carmona before smashing Petchbarngborn Kokietgym and the never-before-stopped Kohei Kono. He turns 24 in two days and remains one of boxing’s most terrifying young talents.
Rodriguez (16-3, 5 KO) crunchatized Carlos Narvaez in his last fight and has won four straight overall since dropping a split decision to Carmona in 2015.
Yaegashi (25-5, 13 KO) is 5-0 since consecutive knockout losses to Roman Gonzalez and Pedro Guevara. He beat Javier Mendoza for the belt two Decembers ago and will be making his third defense. Melindo (35-2, 12 KO), whose only losses are to Juan Francisco Estrada and the aforementioned Mendoza, beat Teeraphong Utaida for his interim belt in November.
It’s not the best fight out there for “The Monster”, but with Gonzalez, Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and Carlos Cuadras all occupied, it makes sense. Inoue vs. anyone is generally worth a watch.