In one of Japan's biggest bouts of the year, WBC minimum-weight champion Kazuto Ioka (9-0, 6 KO) will face off against fellow countryman Akira Yaegashi (15-2, 8 KO). This will be a unification bout as Yaegashi holds the WBA title.
Some people might remember Yaegashi in the war he had with Pornsawan Porpramook for his WBA belt. It was voted as ESPN.com's 2011 Fight of the Year and was one of the most exciting fights in the lowest weight class.
This is an important event in the weight class. For starters, this is the first time since 1998 that there was a unification bout between minimum-weight champions. This will also be the first time two Japanese minimum-weight champions unified the title.
The last time this happened was a fight between Ricardo Lopez and Rosendo Alvarez for the unification of the WBC and WBA title. Before that, Lopez beat out Alex Sanchez to hold the WBO and the WBC belt. The first time Lopez and Alvarez fought it ended in a draw. They fought again for just the WBA title and Lopez won it out in a split decision.
Japanese authorities only recognize the WBA and the WBC as world titles. A unification with any other title wouldn't really be considered a unification, so this is a huge event in Japan.
This should be an interesting fight in the minimum-weight division. Yaegashi is a fairly quick tactician who stays busy, has more experience than the younger champion and has a lot of heart (as displayed in his Fight of the Year with Porpramook). Ioka is a fairly interesting fighter too with great athleticism and good power for the weight class.
This is bound to be an interesting battle with quick and furious exchanges between the two men. This is most likely Ioka's last fight at 105 as he looked like he had a little trouble making the weight. He only went down to 105 to win a belt and it might be time for him to move up soon.