By Jake Donovan
That is how far the list extends of fighters below 118 who went on to earn Fighter of the Year honors. A Hall of Fame career enjoyed by the 1988 Olympic medalist included a 1993 campaigned recognized as that year’s best, fueled by his off-the-canvas knockout win over Chiquita Gonzalez.
Twenty years later, Edgar Sosa has a chance to double that list. Wins over Archie Solis and Giovani Segura haven’t quite put the former 108 lb. titlist in Fighter of the Year discussion, but a win over reigning flyweight king Akira Yaegashi certainly will.
That opportunity comes Friday evening (local time) in Tokyo, Japan, as Sosa travels from his native Mexico in pursuit of a second divisional championship.
Yaegashi has enjoyed a hell of a 2013 campaign in his own right. Not at all unfamiliar with Fight of the Year discussion, Yaegashi bounced back strong from his June ’12 war with countryman Kazuto Ioka to pick up three wins this year. A move up in weight has put an extra pep in the step of the former strawweight titlist, as showcased in his lineal flyweight championship winning effort over Toshiyuki Igarashi this past April.
One defense has since followed, a 12-round points win over Oscar Blanquet.
Despite scoring three wins and a major championship, 2013 hasn’t been as big for Yaegashi as has been the case in year’s past. The free-swinging Japanese punching machine emerged victorious in one of the greatest fights in recent years, scoring a 10th round stoppage of Pornsawat Porpramook in a slam dunk choice for 2011 Fight of the Year.
The win earned a strawweight belt, which only lasted eight months or until his next fight. Still, it was long enough to become a part of history, as his aforementioned showdown with Ioka marked the first time ever two reigning titlists from Japan met in a unification bout.
Given his penchant for excitement, the expectations are for Yaegashi to once again land in the Fight of the Year race, especially given Sosa’s fan-friendly style. A win on Friday will give him four on the year, including three in championship contests.
Sosa winning on the road and claiming a major championship makes him a tough candidate to top in the Fighter of the Year race, even when discussing more familiar names at the higher weight classes. More important, talks will eventually turn towards Hall of Fame consideration, this marking his 17th fight versus a former, current or future champion (presently 10-6 in such bouts).
Will Friday’s outcome be enough for the winner–no matter whom–to join Michael Carbajal on the very short list of diminutive-sized fighters to claim the year’s top honors? Will the bout serve as yet another online gem? Most important to the two fighters involved in Friday’s lineal flyweight championship—who will ultimately prevail?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the action overseas will play out.
PREDICTIONS – AKIRA YAEGASHI vs. EDGAR SOSA
“Regardless of the outcome, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the last great day in the sun for both fighters. Sosa has a great chance to win a second belt and shake up the Fighter of the Year race. He’s going to have to walk through hell to do it, though. Whatever Yaegashi has left – and I’m not sure it’s very much – should be enough to keep Sosa off of him long enough to survive a war and keep his belt, while landing in Fight of the Year discussion for the third consecutive year.”
- Jake Donovan (Yaegashi UD)
“I’ve seen Yaegashi three times. Two were the best fights I’ve ever watched (KO10 Pornsawan Porpramook, L12 Kazuto Ioka). The third was when he won the flyweight title (W12 Toshiyuki Igarashi), but looked like a fighter who has taken a lot of punishment already. I don’t think his reign will last a lot longer, but not sure Sosa is the guy to end it.”
- Nina Mariah Donovan (Yaegashi SD)
“Sosa is having a hell of a year with a knockout of Ulises Solis and a decision over Giovani Segura. Yaegashi rebounded from the thrilling unification loss to Kazuto Ioka to snare history's crown at 112. His speed should be a bit too much for Sosa here but it's a corker and may end up the fight of the week.”
- Cliff Rold (Yaegashi decision)
“Yaegashi looks to be a shaky champ, not a king of division. Oppositely, Sosa is a hot stuff now. A win over the Japanese can propel him into a legitimate FOTY candidate and rightfully so. And it says here it will.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Sosa UD)
Akira Yaegashi 3
Edgar Sosa 1
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox