Wednesday, November 30, 2022  |



Daigo Higa, Ken Shiro retain titles in Japan

Daigo Higa (left) alongside Thomas Masson at the weigh-in for their Oct. 22 fight. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Japanese boxers Daigo Higa and Ken Shiro held on to their world titles in their first defenses Sunday at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, as WBC flyweight titleholder Higa tore through Thomas Masson in seven rounds and WBC junior flyweight titleholder Shiro won a narrow split decision over Pedro Guevara.

Higa (14-0, 14 knockouts) dazzled from the outset, finding holes in the Frenchman’s guard as he banged away with combinations from various angles. The pressure started to get to Masson (17-4-1, 5 KOs) by the fourth as he was rocked back into the ropes to begin the round. Higa continued to find the mark, connecting with four straight left uppercuts between the guard.

The fight grew more one-sided from there as Higa hurt Masson with a left hook he never saw coming to the body, doubling him over and sending him into the ropes. Higa’s ability to throw four or five punches with the left hand, then use the same glove to knock Masson’s guard away to open him up for a right hand made it difficult for Masson to regain his composure.

The fight came to a halt just over a minute into the seventh round after Masson took a knee following a left to the face. Masson and referee Tom Taylor made a visit to the ringside doctor in a neutral corner and seemed to be hinting at damage to his right eye, prompting the fight to be called off.

It was yet another destructive performance for the 22-year-old Higa, who won the title in May by pummeling Juan Hernandez over six rounds.

Shiro, who defeated Ganigan Lopez by majority decision on that same card in May to win his belt, had another tough night against a classy Mexican foe. One judge saw the bout even at 114-114, while the other two saw it 116-112 for Shiro (11-0, 5 KOs) over Guevara (30-3-1, 17 KOs), who himself is a former champion.

Shiro opened up cuts over both of Guevara’s eyes in the middle rounds.

The title fights were preliminary fights before the rematch between 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata and Hassan N’Dam (result here).