by Tamas Pradarics

WBC light flyweight world champion Ken Shiro is among those fighters who should take it easy with the turkey on Christmas Eve. The unbeaten Japanese will have a rendezvous with a scale on December 29 before defending his green-and-gold belt the day after as part of the tumultuous New Years Eve boxing schedule that traditionally takes place in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Shiro (10-0, 5 KOs) will face Panamanian challenger Gilberto Pedroza in a voluntary defense in a card headlined by one of the finest pugilists today in the sport, Naoya Inoue. Pedroza (18-3-2, 8 KOs) is currently rated No. 11 with the WBC and he freshly comes from the biggest win of his career so far against former world title challenger Saul Juarez, whom he beat by split decision over nine rounds this past October.

“Preparation is perfect for December 30. I am training at the Misako Gym in Tokyo. Sparring has been going well, I have sparred about 70 rounds so far. I am absolutely sure that I will be victorious against Pedroza,” Shiro told in a recent interview.

With a potential win, Shiro could leave behind a great 2017 seeing him become a champion in May against Mexican veteran Ganigan Lopez and defending the WBC belt in a mandatory defense against former champion Pedro Guevara in October before this coming matchup against Pedroza.

As to what the new year can bring to the soon-to-be 26-year-old Shiro is yet uncertain. One thing is for sure, though. After the Kyoto-based belt holder goes through his voluntary defense on the 30th, he will turn his attention to another card that takes place the very next day in Tokyo and featuring two of the other titlists in the light flyweight division go against each other.

Ryoichi Taguchi and Milan Melindo will square off in an important WBA/IBF unification fight that is also about to declare who the number one guy is at 108 pounds.

“I am looking forward to the title unification between Taguchi and Melindo very much. I think it will be a good fight. Of course, I am rooting for my countryman Taguchi to get the win,” said Shiro.

The question was inevitable. After having a pretty nice run in 2017, would Ken like to take a step up and challenge the fighter who comes out as the victor and thus new WBA/IBF champion at light flyweight?

“Of course, I would like to face the winner. But first I have to win my upcoming fight so now I solely concentrate on this challenge.”

It is great to see things getting heated up in an interesting 108-pound division.

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