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Ginjiro Shigeoka relishes full time job as champ as he takes on late-sub Jake Amparo

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Last year, Ginjiro Shigeoka lived up to his considerable billing when he claimed the IBF strawweight title with an eye-opening fifth-round stoppage over Mexico’s Daniel Valladares.

Despite the title triumph, Shigeoka, currently rated at No. 3 by The Ring at strawweight, has kept his feet on the ground.

“Not much [has] changed, except for the fact that I no longer need to work part-time, I worked at SOBA (Japanese noodle restaurant), but I can focus on boxing only,” Shigeoka (10-0, 8 knockouts) told The Ring through Yamane Chisa. “Although I still am conscious on the pricing, but I can buy more expensive beef sometime (laugh). Before, I did not have much money but now I do not have to think about the money as much as I had to before I became champion.

“[Becoming champion] was one of my goals and now that I have accomplished it, it’s the starting point of new era and I am very excited for the new stages. I am very excited on how far I can go from this point.”

The 24-year-old rising Japanese star’s profile has grown, and by the sounds of it so has his bank account. However, it is now time for him to step back in the ring and make the first defense of his crown against late substitute Jake Amparo, who stepped in at four days notice for compatriot ArAr Andales, who had to pull out with medical issues, at the Internationmal Conference Hall, Nagoya, Japan.

“I think he has strong heart so he will be an good opponent,” he said. “It maybe hard to see what he is thinking of as he is poker-faced, which may be difficult during the fight but I also want to fight with [using my brain.]

“As for the punch, he seems to punch from outside. He fights on the outside more than inside, so I will have to watch out for that. It is different from how Japanese fighter punch. I will need to adjust to that as I fight with him.”

Shigeoka was a decorated amateur, winning five national titles, including two Inter-High School Championships, going an impressive 56-1.

The lone blemish wasn’t a conventional loss. It came against his elder brother, Yudai, in the final of the Kumamoto prefecture final. Both brothers, their father and their coach agreed that the bout should not take place and it was decided that Ginjiro would not fight. As soon as the opening bell rang his corner threw in the towel.

Ginjiro Shigeoka unleashes on Clyde Azarcon, who was knocked out in the first round in July 2019. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

He subsequently turned professional in September 2018. The diminutive southpaw quickly won a WBO regional title and looked primed to get a world title shot sooner rather than later, when the worldwide COVID pandemic hit and with borders closed and no opportunities to bring in opponents from overseas he didn’t fight for 18-months.

Once things opened up he was able to add the Japanese national title to his collection. His team were able to entice Valladares to Japan in early 2023. An accidental head clash meant the defending champion couldn’t continue and Shigeoka’s hopes of winning a world title were put on hold.

It had been hoped that Valladares cut would be healed and that he would be fit for the rematch in the spring. That wasn’t the case and Shigeoka instead fought battle-hardened former titleholder Rene Mark Cuarto. Shigeoka suffered the ignominy of a trip to the canvas but rebounded strongly to the adversity and was able to score a ninth-round stoppage. That was a big moment in his young career and stiffened his resolve.

Ginjiro and older brother Yudai were both matched with defending strawweight titlists on the same card last October. Ginjiro blew through Vallardares with considerable ease, while Yudai dominated WBC beltholder Petchmanee CP Freshmart (UD 12) to win the WBC title.

The Shigeokas own two of the four 105-pound sanctioning body belts. The two brothers will share the same card again having won their world titles on the same show last time out. Ginjiro hopes they assert their dominance in the near future.

“Yes, to fight on the same day enables both of us to encourage each other on cut weight and preparation for the fight,” he explained.

“Now the plan is to get four belts, two of each on strawweight classes and after Yudai moves up to the next weight division, I will get all four belts in this weight class.”

Shigeoka is rightly strongly favored to beat Amparo, though the Filipino is capable of giving him a good test. I could see Shigeoka breaking him down and scoring an stoppage by the mid-rounds.

Amparo (14-5-1, 3 KOs( lost for the first time in his third outing against compatriot Garen Diagan (RTD 3). After a couple of wins lost to Arvin Magramo (RTD 3) and Regie Suganob (UD). To his credit he reeled off five wins including a road win in South Africa against Mthokozisi Ngxaka (UD 8).

However, he suffered a contentious setback against Huu Toan Le (SD 12) in Thailand. The 26-year-old has bounced back with three win, notably scoring an impressive win in Japan over touted Goki Kobayashi (UD 12) but most recently lost to former IBF 105-pound boss Pedro Taduran (UD 12).

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].

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