By Terence Dooley
Eddie Hearn has added Kal Yafai's (22-0, 14 KOs) mandatory WBA World Super flyweight title defence against Japan's Sho Ishida (24-0, 13 early) to the undercard of Anthony Joshua's IBF World, WBA Super World and IBO heavyweight world title defence against Kubrat Pulev at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 28. Hearn confirmed the news via Twitter earlier today.
Birmingham-based Yafai won the vacant title by decisioning Luis Concepcion at the Manchester Arena in December then consolidated his position by beating Suguru Muranaka on points at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena in May, flooring the Japanese boxer en route to the win. The 28-year-old former British titlist will now make his second defence and clear up his mandatory commitment in the process to free him up for a voluntary early in 2018.
Ishida is fighting away from Japan for the first time in his first title shot; the 25-year-old won the Japanese title by beating Yohei Tobe in August 2014, but has faced mostly modest opposition and is taking a step in class for this one.
The 25-year-old’s last meaningful outing was a Majority Decision win over Ryuichi Funai last May (according to BoxRec he has blown away two Thai debutants since then), it was the fifth defence of his regional title. This will be the first time that he has been scheduled to go the championship distance, Yafai has been 12 rounds on four occasions.
“It should be a great fight,” said Yafai. “We’re both undefeated and it looks an interesting one but it’s a fight I’m 100 per cent fully expecting to win and win in style.
“We started camp about four weeks ago but I’ve been ticking over before that. We’ve been building up slowly but now we’re stepping up the intensity.
“I’ve found some good videos of him and I’ve watched a couple of his fights already but over the next eight weeks, I’ll be studying them in more detail with my team.
“He looks pretty tall. I think that’s his biggest attribute going for him. He’s busy with his jab and he seems comfortable on the back foot. We’ll see on October 28 if he does anything else but if he plans on using just his height and jab it won’t be enough to beat someone like me.
“It will be the biggest crowd he’s boxed in front of, outside of Japan for the first time and in his first twelve rounder as well. But travelling away effects fighters in different ways. Just look at my last opponent, it was his first time outside of Japan and he loved it. He didn’t stop smiling.
“The win over Muranaka was good at times. There were things in the fight I didn’t do too well, which we’ve been working on. But that aside, we got the rounds in at a very high pace. The guy was tough, he took everything and fired back himself.”