Earlier this morning, some of Japan’s most prominent amateur and professional fighters got together to raise money for COVID relief by beating each other up for a few rounds, which for my money is the highest form of charity. Asian Boxing has a fairly detailed write-up; Hiroto Kyoguchi vs. Akira Yaegashi was reportedly the war we expected, but the main event between Naoya Inoue and Daigo Higa stole the show.
“Exhibition” usually implies that neither participant will really give it their all for fear of causing injury, but these two knockout machines didn’t get the memo. Higa (17-1-1, 17 KO), the naturally smaller man, constantly pushed forward and threw heat at “The Monster” (20-0, 17 KO), who responded with some masterful work off the back foot. The pair elected to shed their headgear for the third round, which could have easily passed for a professional grudge match were the pair not clearly enjoying themselves.
Inoue, the unified WBA/IBF bantamweight champ, is looking to return later this year against mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas. If this is what “The Monster” looks like when he’s having fun, the Filipino challenge could be in danger.