Yudai Shigeoka didn't waste any time to join his younger brother in the title hunt.
The brotherly tandem both claimed interim strawweight titles as part of Kameda Promotions' 3150Fight Vol. 5 show Sunday evening on Abema TV from Yoyogi #2 Gymnasium. Yudai Shigeoka did his part with a seventh-round knockout of former WBO 105-pound titlist Wilfredo 'Bimbito' Mendez.
Tokyo's Shigeoka scored knockdowns late in round five and early in round seven. The latter produced the end of the contest at 0:25 of round seven, which left Shigeoka (9-0, 7KOs) as the interim titlist and mandatory challenger to full WBC strawweight champ Panya Pradabsri (39-1, 23KOs).
The feat came barely an hour after Ginjiro Shigeoka, Yudai's younger brother by two years, stopped former IBF titlist Rene Mark Cuarto in the ninth round of their interim IBF title fight on the same show.
Sunday's win was additionally sweet for Yudai Shigeoka, who celebrated his 26th birthday in style. The bout was pieced together on short notice, as Shigeoka was originally due to challenge Pradabsri, who withdrew after being hospitalized with a sudden illness earlier in the month.
Puerto Rico's Mendez (18-3, 6KOs) accepted the bout on barely one week's notice and offered a decent account of himself in the early rounds. Shigeoka struggled to pin down the mobile Boricua before he found a way to cut off the ring and made it a physical affair.
It proved to be Mendez's undoing.
Shigeoka scored the first of two knockdowns in the closing seconds of round five. The two were tied up on the inside before Shigeoka freed his arms just long enough to drop a left hand on Mendez's chin. Mendez hit the deck but was alert enough to make it to his feet in time to beat referee Frank Garza's count.
Mendez managed to survive the sixth round but the writing seemed to be on the wall that the fight would not go the distance.
Shigeoka immediately went on the attack at the start of round and cornered Mendez before once again sending him to the canvas courtesy of a straight left hand. Garza stood over the fallen ex-titlist and issued his count before waving off the contest.
Mendez has now suffered two knockout defeats in his last four starts.
Both setbacks took place in Japan. His WBO strawweight title reign came to an end with a December 2021 eleventh-round knockout loss to Masataka Taniguchi at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo. Mendez held the WBO title for more than two years prior to that night, from which he rebounded with two wins in the Dominican Republic before Sunday's defeat.
Shigeoka advanced to 7-0 (5KOs) with the win and—along with Ginjiro—can look forward to a true title fight within the next few months. Sunday's bout was approved by the WBC, who will instruct Pradabsri to next face the unbeaten southpaw.
The same will apply to IBF strawweight titlist Daniel Valladares, who will have to next face Ginjiro Shigeoka in a rematch to their truncated title fight on January 6 in Osaka, Japan. The bout ended inside of three rounds due to an accidental headbutt which left Mexico's Valladares unable to continue.
Promoter Koki Kameda previously informed BoxingScene.com that he hopes to stage both bouts on the same show within the next 90 days, provided they both won their respective bouts on Sunday. The Shigeoka family complied; now it's up to the reigning titlists to honor their mandatory obligations.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox