Can Daigo Higa Rise to Another World Title Opportunity?
It’s now or never when it comes to the career of Daigo Higa (19-2-1 17 KOs). The ex-WBC world flyweight champ continued his climb to what he hopes is a return to the top with a ten-round decision over Thailand’s Songsaeng Phoyaem (18-2, 12 KOs) at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
Phoyaem came in riding a three-year, twelve-fight winning streak. However, that was against opponents who were highly suspect. Higa was a big step up in competition. In against what was the best opponent of his career, the Thai was outworked and outclassed as Higa had his way to the tune of 99-91 and 100-90 (twice).
FALL FROM GRACE
But the climb remains an arduous one for Higa. There was a time when he was considered a future force in the lower-weight divisions. Then he failed to make weight for a scheduled title defense against Cristofer Rosales in 2018. From there, things went from bad to worse.
As a result of coming in overweight, he was stripped of the title. Deciding to go along with the bout, a physically depleted Higa was stopped in nine rounds. The Japanese Boxing Commission viewed Higa’s actions as poor sportsmanship and a lack of professionalism. Following that contest, they suspended him for two years, then stipulated that he must compete at Bantamweight upon his return.
CAN HE REGAIN THE MOJO?
He has struggled since, both in and out of the ring. At times, he’s admitted to not being motivated and has contemplated retirement. In the ring, Higa has not displayed the form he showed before the loss to Rosales.
In April 2021, he lost a twelve-round split decision to world-ranked bantamweight Ryosuke Nishida. Next was an eight-round win over former world title challenger Froilan Saludar in July 2022. But even in victory, Higa was put on the canvas. He pulled himself together but struggled against someone who is not an A-level opponent.
As a bantamweight, Higa’s punches do not appear to have the same effect on opponents as at 112. That means he has to work harder. Then you have the psychological aspect. Boxing is more mental than physical. If you are not in a good headspace, you’re defeated before the battle begins.
At 27, time is on his side to figure things out and make one last run. His performance against Phoyaem should boost his confidence. But as it stands right now, it is a big question mark if Higa has what it takes and can return to world championship glory.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.