By Jake Donovan
Months worth of speculation finally became a reality for the flyweight division, as lineal champ Akira Yaegashi is set to make the fourth defense of his crown versus unbeaten former two-division champ Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez.
The bout will take place September 5 in Tokyo, Japan. Also on the card, 21-year old wunderkind Naoya Inoue makes the first defense of his 108 lb. title versus Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym.
The show was formally announced Monday in Japan, according to AsianBoxing.info , also confirming a scoop from BoxingScene.com contributor Salvador Rodriguez earlier this month.
Gonzalez (39-0, 33KO) quickly gained a reputation as the most feared man during his title reigns at strawweight and junior flyweight. The Nicaraguan knockout artist was in hot pursuit of a showdown with Japan's Kazuto Ioka, who instead chose to head in a different direction in his own run towards title reigns in three separate weight classes.
Those plans fell apart when he came up short in his flyweight title fight with Amnat Ruenroeng this past May. A win could have potentially set up a rematch with Yaegashi, whom he edged in their June '12 strawweight title unification thriller.
Instead, it's Gonzalez who slides in to challenge the reigning flyweight king, in search of his third title in as many weight classes.
Yaegashi (20-3, 10KO) quickly rebounded from the setback versus Ioka, moving up two divisions to claim the top prize in a loaded flyweight division. His April '13 win over Toshiyuki Igarashi is the highlight of a current five-fight win streak.
The one-year anniversary of Yaegashi's title reign was celebrated with his most recent defense, a 9th round stoppage of Odilon Zaleta this past April. On that same card, Inoue saw his accellartion from newcomer to prospect to champion all in the blink of an eye, stopping Adrian Hernandez in six one-sided rounds to win the 108 lb. title in just his 6th pro fight.
Inoue (6-0, 5KO) was aggressively matched from the moment he turned pro in Oct. '12. All six of his opponents to date were far more experienced in the pro ranks, but he has risen to the occasion every time out. The expectations for his career are so high that he was actually favored by a considerable margin to send Mexico's Hernandez back home empty-handed.
He figures to be a heavy favorite to successfully defend his title, as Kokietgym (16-4, 5KO) has done little in recent time to lay claim as a viable threat. The closest he boasts to qualifying credentials are early career wins over former strawweight champ Muhammad Rachman and Fahlan Sakreerin Jr., who earlier this year dropped a lopsided points loss to Inoue's 18-year old kid brother, Takuma Inoue, who was entering just his second pro fight.
All told, Kokietgym enters his first title fight on the heels of an eight-fight win streak.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox