WBO Super-Feather contender Masayuki Ito may be leaving his Japanese homestead for the first time as a professional this weekend, but the smooth-boxing strongman insists his trip to the tourist resort of Kissimmee, Florida is anything but a sun-seeking, sightseeing mission.
The 27-year-old from Tokyo pits his considerable speed and skills against power-punching Puerto Rican hotshot Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz for the WBO Title recently relinquished by the great Vasyl Lomachenko. The co-challenger’s contrasting styles should mesh to produce a corker and BoxNation deliver the action live from 2am (Sunday morning).
‘I will bring the belt home without fail. I have promised my wife and children. I will fight as if my life depends upon it!’ declared the Teiken-promoted number two challenger who has conceded just once in a 25 fight, nine year innings as a pro.
‘Pitufo’, unbeaten in 23 and perceived by many as the ‘Next Big Thing’ from the fight-mad Caribbean isle, will enter as a strong favourite. Not only as he left 15 victims staring up at the lights, has fought in the town on four previous occasions and can expect heavy support in the Puerto Rican stronghold.
But this fighting son from the Land of the Rising Sun can not be discounted. In addition to the supreme conditioning and unbreakable spirit synonymous with Japanese ringmasters, Ito offers skills, smarts and shifty feet.
Once Japanese Rookie of the Year, he has held National, WBC Youth, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF belts and has scalped three Japanese National Champions. He is the senior fighter by four years, has fought in the pros for four years longer and at 5ft 8 ½ in, is almost three inches taller than Diaz.
And while Ito’s record lists just two more fights, he has the experience of 55 more pro rounds. Diaz’s dynamite fists have ensured that no opponent has survived more than eight rounds with him, whereas Ito has travelled beyond that distance on eight occasions.
His 12 stoppage wins suggest he has respectable power to supplement his slicks and, with five victims halted after round eight, his strength and stamina are beyond reproach. It should get mighty interesting if the fight extends into the second half.
Historically, Japan’s Samurai warriors have a strong track record in the 130lb division. Don’t discount this fast, mobile and intelligent campaigner from adding a ninth World Title to the country’s haul.
Watch Christopher Diaz v Masayuki Ito live on BoxNation on July 28th.