In recent years, Japan has become a breeding ground for phenom fighters in the lowest weight classes. Naoya “The Monster” Inoue had collected alphabet-soup belts at 108 and 115 pounds by the time he was old enough to legally purchase alcohol in the United States, before he had fought even 10 professional bouts. Now 25, he is a pound-for-pound force on the world stage.
Naoya’s younger brother Takuma lacks his older sibling’s power, but at just 22, the bantamweight has compiled a perfect 10-0 record against far more experienced opponents. Flyweight Kosei Tanaka is also 22, and undefeated (11-0, 7 KOs) against world-class opponents.
Fellow flyweight Daigo Higa is also 22 and very much in the Monster mold. Now 15-0, he has stopped every opponent he has faced. Last February he knocked out veteran Moises Fuentes in Round 1. In May of last year he stopped 34-2 Juan Hernandez Navarrete. This Sunday in Yokohama, Higa faces another hard-punching, experienced veteran in Cristofer Rosales (26-3, 17 KOs).
These are not the opponents that a legend is built upon. But it is an extremely impressive resume for a fighter of just 22 years.
The Japanese boxing scene is very much distinct from North America. Inoue has still fought just once on a U.S. broadcast, even as he has developed a sterling international reputation. But in the internet age, it is far easier to follow fighters from across the globe and take note of their development. Higa is one worth paying attention to.
In the future, there should be potential for him to clash with Tanaka. It seems very possible that he could develop into a super-fight rival for the senior Inoue.