Daigo Higa is ready to wreak havoc on the bantamweight division.
The former flyweight titlist picked up his second win at the new weight, scoring a violent 5th round knockout of Yuki Strong Kobayashi. A right uppercut put Kobayashi down and out at 0:45 of round five in their preliminary bout Thursday evening at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
In a year that has been unkind to many around the world, Higa has used 2020 as a rebuilding campaign. The 25-year old has somehow managed three fights in 2020, though entering on the heels of a shaky 10-round draw versus Seiya Tsutsumi this past October at famed Korakeun Hall.
Kobayashi (16-9, 9KOs) never came close to posing such a threat. The 29-year old journeyman from Osaka was an inviting target for uppercuts, which Higa landed early and often throughout the brief affair.
A pair of right uppercuts produced the bout's lone knockdown as well as its conclusion. Higa landed flush on the mark, sending Kobayashi down in a heap as referee Biney Martin reached the count of ten to end the fight.
Higa advances to 17-1-1 (17KOs), going 2-0-1 in 2020 following a year-long ban for missing weight in his flyweight title-ending 9th round knockout loss to Cristofer Rosales in April 2018. In addition to suffering the lone defeat of his career, Higa was also instructed to campaign at a higher weight upon his ring return.
Such advice was followed to the letter, with Higa moving up two full divisions in having to fully grown into a bantamweight uniform. It remains to be seen if he can serve as a viable threat at the weight, though Thursday's win was definitely a step in the right direction.
The bout aired via slight delay on TBS-Japan, serving in supporting capacity to the Japanese superfight between four-division and defending 115-pound titlist Kazuto Ioka and unbeaten former three-division title claimant Kosei Tanaka.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox