Daigo Higa reflects on bringing belt home to Okinawa
On May 20, Daigo Higa impressively acquired the vacant WBC flyweight title, stopping Juan Hernandez in six rounds in Tokyo, Japan.
Higa (13-0, 13 knockouts) dropped Hernandez six times en route to emphatically stopping the former champion – who had missed weight, causing the vacancy.
Higa, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING Magazine at 112 pounds, is particularly pleased to end a world title drought in his home area, while also matching his mentor.
“I am very happy, many fans in Okinawa – my home islands – feel delighted at me winning of a world title,” Higa told RingTV.com through Tomoyuki Kataoka. “This is the first time in 25 years a boxer from Okinawa has won a world title. That was by Akinobu Hiranaka in 1992.
“I think I was able to prove my strength and belief to live out a dream to become world champion at the age of 21, the same as Mr. (Yoko) Gushiken. That will be important for my life.”
Gushiken, who held the WBA junior flyweight crown in the late 1970s, is understandably elated his protégé has won a world title.
“As a professional boxer, he was able to please and excite many fans with his strong mind and destructive punches.” said the 2015 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.
The win also saw Higa become the youngest active titlist in boxing, edging compatriot Kosei Tanaka by just over two months.
However, it’s not something to which he pays particular heed.
Having achieved his goal of becoming a major titlist, the heavy-handed Japanese fighter has now set further goals.
“My goal is to continue winning one by one,” he stated. “I would like to break the Japanese record of 15 consecutive knockout wins owned by (former WBC junior welterweight titlist) Tsuyoshi Hamada, who was also born in Okinawa.
“Furthermore, I would like to do an unification match with Kazuto Ioka.”
Gushiken is unsure when his fighter will next fight, though feels it will be later this year, saying, “It will be approximately September or October.”
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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