As Ginjiro and Yudai Shigeoka both challenge for world titles at Minimumweight this weekend, I take a look at not just a family affair, but a golden era of fighters from ‘The Land of the Rising Sun.’
The Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan will play host to a historic night of world championship boxing this Saturday, 7th October, as two brothers challenge for their maiden world titles, in the same division, on the same card. WBC Interim Champion Yudai Shigeoka will consolidate his title with WBC Minimumweight champion Panya Pradabsri, and younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka consolidates his IBF Interim title with full champion Daniel Valladres.
Yudai, the older of the two, has less pro experience than his brother, with only 7 fights on his ledger so far, winning all 7 with 5 coming by way of knockout, had a slightly delayed start to his pro career. The 26 year old was an exceptional amateur, winning 4 national titles, including the 2018 All Japan title at Light Flyweight. Yudai would also reach the final of the world university championships in Russia that very same year.
The dream of the older Shigeoka brother was to score a medal at his home olympic games in 2020. However the reduction of Olympic Games weight classes saw his dream crushed, as light flyweight was removed. This led to the decision for Yudai to turn pro, ending his spell in the unpaid ranks with a record of 82-10 with 20 stoppage wins.
Yudai turned pro on the 30th October 2019 at the age of 22. He defeated Manop Audomphanawari via 2nd round TKO. The hot prospect kept busy and 6 weeks later defeated reigning OPBF champion Lito Dante via UD in a round non title contest. This early sign of intent from Shigeoka would not be the first time that Yudai would accelerate through the levels, and rather sets the tone for the remainder of his pro career to date.
After 14 months out due to pandemic restrictions, Yudai would return to win the Japanese youth title over 8 rounds against Ryu Horikawa. 9 months later he would return against Tsubasa Koura, claiming the historic WBO Asia Pacific title via majority decision.
After one defence Yudai would go for the vacant Japanese title against Tatsuro Nakashima scoring a highlight real KO. These wins at Championship level put him right in line for a shot at WBC Champion Panya Prabasri.
The title bout was originally set for April 23rd. However Prabasri was forced to withdraw 2 weeks before. Former WBO champ Wilfredo Mendez stepped in for a bout for the interim title. Yudai would dominate and stop Mendez, dropping him twice on the way to a 7th round win.
The aggressive matchmaking and backing from Koki Kameda, combined of course with Yudais unbelievable talent has fast tracked him to this point. It is near unprecedented that a 7-0 novice would start a heavy betting favourite against a 40-1, long reigning champion who is recognised as the number 2 fighter in the division.
Younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka will finally get his rematch with IBF champion Daniel Valladares. The 23 year old has perhaps been the most highly touted prospect coming through in Japan since Kosei Tanaka.
The youngsters amateur career was impressive, winning 5 national titles and only losing once in 57. This loss was not a regular loss however. Ginjiro drew he brother Yudai in the Japanese national tournament. Both brothers entered the ring and as soon as the bell rang Ginjiro’s corner threw in the towel.
Ginjiro turned pro at 18, and was thrown straight into championship level in his 4th fight, stopping Clyde Azarcon in the first for the WBO Asia Pacific. After two defences he moved on and fought Tatsuro Nakashima for the Japanese title.
After one defence of the Japanese title he was thrown into the deep end with a bout against IBF Champion Daniel Valladares in January this year. Ginjiro started well and was cleary getting on top of the champion when Valladares seemingly started to headbut Shigeoka repeatedly. This lead to a break in the action. And Valladares was unable to continue in a decision that most onlookers deemed a blatant quit.
Ginjiro returned in April, on the same card as his brother Yudai, to fight former champion Rene Mark Cuarto for the interim IBF title. Ginjiro was put down with a flash knockdown in the first, however made unbelievable adjustments and went on to score a 9th round Knock Out, scoring 3 knockdowns along the way.
The case of the Shigeoka brothers isn’t rare in Japanese boxing. Neither have fought anyone with losing records, and both were put into domestic/regional title matches within 5 fights. These titles are the real titles as well. None of these ‘IBF International’ belts and the like that you see paraded around press conferences in the UK.
It is obviously working for Japan. With 5 current world champions, in Kenshiro Teraji, Naoya Inoue, Takuma Inoue, Junto Nakatani, and Kazuto Ioka. 3 of which could easily be in any P4P top 10.
Post pandemic Japan has had 10 world champions holding a combined 18 world titles. And with fighters like the Shigeoka brothers, Jin Sasaki, Seigo Akui, Kento Hatanaka, Hayoto Tsutsumi, Suzumi Takayama,Ryosuke Nishida, Seiya Tsutsumi, Yoshiki Takei, and Reyia Abe waiting in the wings for title shots, as well as former champions like Hiroto Kyoguchi, Kosei Tanaka, Masamichi Yabuki, Masataka Taniguchi and Tomoki Kameda (who fights in an eliminator on Saturdays card) still competing at the top level, it really is a golden era for Japanese Boxing.
Hard matchmaking and not giving up on a fighter after a loss is key for development in boxing in my opinion. And its quite fitting that 1-0, 21 year old super flyweight prospect Hayate Hanada is facing 20-0 Mexican Rene Calixto Bibiano over 8 rounds on Saturday. This personifies the Japanese approach. Match them hard. Match them tough. And move them up the levels if they’re clearly ready for it.
Saturday’s Kameda promotions card is available on Abema TV.
For live updates follow @NoSmokeBoxing on Twitter/X.