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Igarashi-Yaegashi/Yamanaka-Tunacao: Report Card

by Cliff Rold

While most US fights fans are readying themselves for work or school in the wee hours of dreaded Monday morning, a stellar fight card will likely be in full gear on the other side of the pacific. 

The two best fights on the card will see the lineal Flyweight crown on the line and the Bantamweight belt of one of the best in the world at 118 lbs.  They will be challenged by men who held titles two classes below and who appear to be live threats to upend their reigns.

Something violent is bound to happen. 

Let’s go to the report cards.

The Ledgers

Toshiyuki Igarashi 

Age:
29
Titles: Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC Flyweight (2012-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: TBA
Hails from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 17-1-1, 10 KO
Record in Title Fights: 2-0
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Tomonobu Shimizu L10; Sonny Boy Jaro SD12)

Vs.

Akira Yaegashi
Age:
30
Titles: None
Previous Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2011-12)
Height: 5’3
Weight: TBA
Hails from: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Record: 16-3, 9 KO
Rankings: #3 at 105 lbs. (BoxingScene); #5 (TBRB); #6 (Ring)
Record in Title Fights: 0-1
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Eagle Kyowa L12; Pornsawan Porpramook TKO10; Kazuto Ioka L12)
 
Grades

Pre-Fight: Speed – Igarashi B+; Yaegashi B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Igarashi C+; Yaegashi B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Igarashi B; Yaegashi C
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Igarashi B+; Yaegashi A

It’s hard not to root for Yaegashi here.  Despite a badly damaged eye, he made it razor close and fell just short in his 105 lb. unification clash with Kazuto Ioka last year.  Combined with winning the 2011 BoxingScene and ESPN Fight of the Year versus Porpramook, Yaegashi is as hardcore friendly as it gets.

Igarashi is not and that might be to his advantage.  While the taller champion can be drawn into the trenches, the space where Yaegashi would likely do his best work, he often opts for movement and quick, sharp punches.  It’s not always fun but it can be effective.  In his two title fights so far, he hasn’t been overly impressive but he hasn’t lost either.  Yaegashi likes to come forward.  Against the longer, rangier Igarashi, it could be a recipe for walking into shots too often for his own good…unless his will can begin to chip away and force Igarashi to stay and brawl.

Six pounds north, the styles may clash just a little bit prettier.

Shinsuke Yamanaka

Age:
30
Titles: WBC Bantamweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’7 ½
Weight: TBA
Hails from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 17-0-1, 12 KO
Rankings: #1 (BoxRec); #2 (BoxingScene, TBRB, Ring, SecondsOut); #5 (ESPN)
Record in Title Fights: 3-0, 2 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Vic Darchinyan UD12; Tomas Rojas KO7)

Vs.

Malcolm Tunacao
Age: 35
Titles: None
Previous Titles: Lineal/WBC Flyweight (2000-01, 1 Defense)
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: TBA
Hails from: Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines
Record: 32-2-3, 20 KO
Rankings: #3 (BoxRec); #5 (Ring); #6 (ESPN); #7 (TBRB); #8 (BoxingScene)
Record in Title Fights: 1-1-1, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Medgoen Singsurat TKO7; Celes Kobayashi D12; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam TKO by 1)
 
Grades

Pre-Fight: Speed – Yamanaka A-; Tunacao B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Yamanaka B+; Tunacao B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Yamanaka B+; Tunacao B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Yamanaka A; Tunacao B
 

Yamanaka, along with the aforementioned Ioka and Jr. Lightweight Takashi Uchiyama, represents the cream of the crop in Japan and the sort of fighter the rest of the world needs a better look at.  Many outside Japan have already sought him out for his win over Darchinyan and devastating knockout over Rojas. 

He’s got a good fighter and a good story in front of him.  Tunacao won the lineal Flyweight title before his professional training wheels were off and lost it to a likely future Hall of Famer in Wonjongkam, all by 2001.  It’s taken him roughly a dozen years to get another title shot and, at 35, there likely won’t be another. 

This could be a fight with some great exchanges and chess playing early on.  The more elusive and quicker Yamanaka is technically superior, but Tunacao has a load of experience to draw on and only one loss in his ledger since Wonjongkam. 
 
The Picks

‪Monday looks like it should be a good day to be a defending champion.  At Bantamweight, the feel-good story of Tunacao’s long road back runs into what appears to just be a better fighter.  Tunacao will lay it out there, but the quicker Yamanaka should beat him to the punch and the potential is there for a stoppage in the second half.  Either way, Yamanaka should win. 

It might be the better fight of the two though one can never count out Yaegashi for action.  Yaegashi’s push forward could be tempting for the judges to side with at times but over twelve rounds it’s going to be hard to win enough to take the crown.  The pick at 112 lbs. is for Igarashi to retain by a close decision.  A draw isn’t out of the question.

Report Card Picks 2013: 7-9

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by JOM'S on 04-08-2013

I hope Malcolm can do a Penalosa, almost same situation or opportunity...

Comment by Japanese Boxing on 04-08-2013

[QUOTE=TheGunslinger;13221611]I want to know that too really good card. I found a page saying 20:21/8:21 for the main event Yamanaka-Tunacao local time from Teiken's page can't read Japanese but that's what it said translated from google. [url]http://www.teiken.com/news/index.html[/url] So I live…

Comment by BattleAxePurist on 04-07-2013

If Igarashi wins how bout an Estrada bout in a future Macua date to determine Undisputed King of the Flies, more likely a Viloria rematch but that'd be nice. Yaegashi is a fun guy to watch and certianly has a…

Comment by TheGunslinger on 04-07-2013

[QUOTE=Granite;13221306]At what time will this fight air?[/QUOTE] I want to know that too really good card. I found a page saying 20:21/8:21 for the main event Yamanaka-Tunacao local time from Teiken's page can't read Japanese but that's what it said…

Comment by Granite on 04-07-2013

At what time will this fight air?

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (8)
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