Former flyweight champion Daigo Higa will continue his attempted rise through the bantamweight ranks on New Year’s Eve, taking on countryman Yuki Strong Kobayashi as part of the Kazuto Ioka-Kosei Tanaka card in Tokyo.
Higa (16-1-1, 16 KO) knocked out Juan Hernandez Navarette for the WBC flyweight title at the age of 22, then dispatched Thomas Masson and Moises Fuentes before coming in two pounds heavy for a planned defense against Cristofer Rosales, who beat the drained former champion into submission. The Japanese Boxing Commission suspended Higa for more than a year, only allowing him back in 2019 with the stipulation that he compete no lower than bantamweight “at least in the immediate future.”
He successfully smashed Filipino victim Jason Buenaobra in February, but struggled his way to a draw against Seiya Tsutsumi in October. It’s looking like he may want to petition the JBC for clearance to fight at 115.
Kobayashi (16-8, 9 KO) is much better than his record would suggest, sitting at 6-1 since a rough professional start. That one came in narrow fashion to another better-than-his-record countryman in Keita Kurihara, who’s now ranked 4th by the IBF and will defend his OPBF title against Takuma Inoue early next year.