Thursday, June 08, 2023  |



Yudai and Gingiro Shigeoka score wins in Japan in doubleheader

Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Yudai Shigeoka (7-0, 5 knockouts) dropped former world champion Wilfredo Mendez twice en route to scoring a seventh round knockout to win the vacant WBC interim strawweight belt (not recognized by The Ring) at Yoyogi #2 Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan.

Shigeoka had been due to face WBC titlist Petchmanee CP Freshmart only for the Thai to pull out through injury. Mendez stepped in at late notice to face Shigeoka.

The action was relatively slow for the first few rounds with neither giving much away. However, the fight sprang into life when Shigeoka dropped Mendez with a left hand late in the fifth round, the Puerto Rican got to his feet and was able to continue. The 26-year-old was in no mood to let his advantage go and finished off the Puerto Rican at 0:25 of the seventh round.

Shigeoka entered the contest unranked by The Ring but can expect a healthy move up after beating The Ring-rated No. 5

In the undercard, Yudai’s younger sibling Ginjiro Shigeoka (9-0, 7 KOs) had to get off the canvas before rallying to stop teak-tough Rene Mark Cuarto (21-4-2, 12 KOs) in nine rounds to claim the vacant interim IBF strawweight title (also not recognized by The Ring).

The 23-year-old southpaw didn’t start very well and was dropped by a right hand in the closing seconds of the opening round. Cuarto, who previously held the IBF title, clashed heads with Shigeoka in the second round and came off worse with a cut under his right eye.

Shigeoka used his skills, boxing behind a smart jab and began to turn the tide. His famed bodypunches started to take their toll by the mid-rounds. It looked as though the Japanese fighter had dropped Cuarto, rated No. 7 at strawweight by The Ring, in the sixth-round only for the call to be reviewed and overturned by the local commission who watched the replay.

However, there was no debate when when a left to the ribs dropped the Filipino in the seventh round. It proved to be the beginning of the end, Shigeoka was firmly in control and dropped Cuarto twice in the ninth to score the stoppage at 2:55.

This fight proved Shigeoka, rated No. 8 at strawweight by The Ring, is still a work in progress but deserves credit for adapting after suffering the early adversity and storming back to win the fight in exciting and definitive fashion. Hopefully Shigeoka can face full IBF titleholder Daniel Valladares next, in a rematch after their January fight ended due to a cut rendering their fight a third-round no-contest.

Shigeoka can expect to move up in The Ring ratings, while Cuarto showed his mettle in defeat can come again.


With Daniel Valladares in his sights, Ginjiro Shigeoka faces Rene Mark Cuarto, Sunday – The Ring (

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].