A fight that I immediately put in my fight diary is upon us, a contest that should provide some intrigue, witnessing WBO 130-pound champion Masayuki Ito defending his title against American Jamel Herring in Kissimmee, Florida.
it will be the second time Ito has competed in Florida, returning to the scene of his coronation in his victory over Cristopher Diaz in July 2018.
Tokyo born Ito made his debut nearly ten years to the date of Saturday’s bout, going 25-1-1 with the sole loss on his record coming in 2015 to Rikki Naito.
Since then he has found form by going on a nine-fight winning streak, winning the OPBF Super Featherweight Title and the World Boxing Organisation Asia Pacific Super Featherweight crown before as already mentioned handing defeat to Christopher Diaz in capturing his biggest prize to date in the WBO World Super Featherweight Title.
His only defence of that title came in another solid victory over the formerly unbeaten Evgeny Chuprakov but knows that more gruelling encounters await with another tough assignment on Saturday night.
“I am excited to return to the United States to defend my world title,” Ito said. “I will be at my best, as I know Herring is a tough and experienced fighter. While I ultimately want to unify the 130-pound division, Herring is the task at hand. There is no sense in talking about the future until I take care of business on May 25.”
A victory will lead either man to a potential unification bout with Miguel Berchelt who himself successfully retained his title in a rematch victory over Francisco Vargas.
Crown favourite Herring hailing from Cincinnati enters his title challenge on the back of a 19-2 record.
The two occasions he has stepped up in competition as lead to his two losses leaving Herring a frustrated figure with a chip on his shoulder in a bid to make it third time lucky.
Ladarius Miller and Denis Shafikov are the two who hold wins over him but since then he has found some traction in going three fights without a loss, accumulating in him winning the vacant USBA Super Featherweight Title last year before rounding off 2018 with a win over Adeilson Dos Santos.
“Not only is this fight landing on Memorial Day weekend, but May 25 would’ve been my daughter Ariyanah’s 10th birthday,” Herring said. “She passed away from sudden infant death syndrome, and I am dedicating this fight to her. I have tremendous respect for Ito, but I plan on being his most difficult challenge. I don’t want to release too much of the game plan, but I won’t be bullied like his last two opponents once the bell rings.”
I jotted this fight in particular down because it is one that strikes me as a genuine 50/50 contest from the outset. Ito will quite rightly be the betting favourite coming into the contest but Herring is unwavering in his belief that he will get his hands on the title this time around. Surrounded by good friend Terence Crawford, left no stone unturned in his preparation for the most important night in his career to date.
Will it be enough? Ito as looked strong/powerful in his march to the top of the division, wins over Diaz and Chuprakov may not shout from the rooftops of dominance but are solid opposition nonetheless, names which are so far lacking from Herring’s resume, this is a genuine pick em fight but with a reach advantage and the momentum coming into the contest, its hard not to favour the champion.
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