Monday, April 23, 2018  |


Undefeated no longer: Cristofer Rosales upsets Daigo Higa to win flyweight belt



In the span of two days, Daigo Higa lost his WBC flyweight title, and then he lost his undefeated record.

The Japanese fighter, who entered the week having finished all 15 of his foes inside the distance, missed weight by two pounds on Saturday, and then sustained his first defeat when his corner threw in the towel at 1:42 of the ninth round of his bout against Nicaragua’s Cristofer Rosales Sunday at the Yokohama Arena in Japan.

Two judges had the scores close at 76-76 and 77-75 for Rosales, while a third had it 79-73, which is more in line with the action that preceded the stoppage. 

Despite comfortably making the weight, Rosales (27-3, 18 knockouts) appeared the larger of the two and masterfully controlled the range with multiple jabs. The tactical advantage translated to physical punishment in the fourth as Higa (15-1, 15 KOs) was chased around the ring, getting his head popped back by right crosses and uppercuts.

Higa was hurt for the first time in the fight by a left hook in the fifth, and immediately backed up. Even when he got the preferred terrain, fighting shoulder to shoulder, it was Rosales who got the better of exchanges, pushing him back and walking him down.

Even with his eyes closing, Higa kept throwing, landing his best shots in the sixth and seventh with left hooks to the body. A rally in the seventh with hooks to the body and head energized the crowd but it would be his final hurrah, and following a torrid eighth round he started towards the wrong corner before finding his way back to his own. The fight was stopped shortly into the ninth, and the conclusion was met by dead silence from the arena.

The win is a big boost to the career of the 23-year-old Rosales, who had previously lost decisions to current WBA junior bantamweight titleholder Khalid Yafai and top-rated flyweight Andrew Selby, while dampening the momentum of Higa, 22, RING’s no. 2 rated flyweight, as he heads up in weight.

There was far less drama in the main event as 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist Ryota Murata (14-1, 11 KOs) lifted the fans’ spirits with an eighth-round stoppage of Italy’s Emanuele Blandamura (27-3, 5 KOs).

A sweeping right hand sent the 38-year-old Blandamura tumbling into the ropes, prompting the referee to stop the fight at the 2:56 mark of an increasingly one-sided affair. The scores at the time of stoppage were 70-63, 68-65 and 69-64, as Murata retains the WBA’s secondary “regular” middleweight title.

Murata, 32, wins his second straight at home following his controversial split-decision loss to Hassan N’Dam in May of 2017.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].

  • Chris Stans

    Not surprising, he looked like a skeleton at the weigh in

    • Ten Count Toronto

      Messing around with your weight can be a double edged sword. Wonder if Higa thinks it was worth it now?

  • Stephen M

    I wonder if the JBC will ban him.

    • Teddy Reynoso

      JBC is contemplating on suspending Higa and his corner for one year for his failure to make the limit and the dishonor of being the first Japanese champion to lose his title at the weights.

      • Rippy JA

        I doubt they’d be considering it if he had won. Higa needs to take at least 8 months off anyway from the beating he took.

  • What more if Nietes fought him. Kudos for Christopher Rosales. Now its time to make noise.

    • Teddy Reynoso

      Even the Ring was guilty of overrating him in denying its blessings to recognize the last fight between Nietes and Reveco as for the vacant Ring flyweight title.
      I have no doubt that Nietes would have also stopped Higa had they met as he has seen the type and came out always victorious in his long storied career. Nietes proves steadier and stronger, even more dangerous as his fights wear on. On the other hand Higa was like a house on fire but only for so long his stamina can take him. In his first fight where he was extended beyond half the regulation, he faltered and lost.

      • Mark

        in short, “ningas kugon”