By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten KO artist Daigo Higa, 112, extended his unblemished mark to 14-0, 14 KOs and successfully retained his belt when he kept swarming over French challenger Thomas Masson (17-4-1, 5 KOs), 111.75, all the way, finally dropped the taller foe and had him retire because of his injured right optic at 1:10 of the seventh round on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan. It’s the non-stop punching Henry Armstrong stylist Higa’s initial defense since he captured the WBC belt via sixth-round TKO victory over Juan Hernandez this May.
Prior to the stoppage due to the ring physician’s advice midway in round seven just after a knockdown—Mike Ross (US), Alejandro Rochin (Mexico) both 60-54, and Jun-Bae Lim (Korea) 59-55, all for the 22-year-old young champ.
From the start Higa kept battering the taller challenger by four inches over his gloves, shoulders, elbows and anywhere of his upper body. The champ displayed Mike Tyson-like combinations from outside to inside with the same hand to have him on the defensive, steadily piling up points. Masson withstood his furious attack and occasionally retaliated with his long punches, which, however, were almost completely averted by Higa’s peek-a-boo guard. The champ threw three times as many punches as the game challenger.
In the sixth and the fatal seventh, Higa accelerated his out-side-inside combinations to hurt him effectively. A solid left hook decked him on the knee in the seventh, when the referee Thomas Taylor, US, took him to the neutral corner to have his injured optic examined by the ring doctor. Masson claimed his right eye was invisible, and the ref made a well-timed stoppage to award a TKO victory to the jubilant champ Higa.
Higa said, “I thank my manager Mr. Gushiken and other people for their supports that made me score a victory and first defense.”
Gushiken said, “Higa may be able to fight even within this year. We want a unification bout.”
Higa’s physical power and abundant stamina are beyond description, and he will become stronger and more excellent with his technical improvement. For your reference, Higa’s chest has a same size (38.6”) with the main eventer Hassan N’Dam’s. He’s a little dynamite.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.
WBC supervisor: Mike George (US).