Japanese contender Sho Ishida will challenge Kal Yafai for the WBA junior bantamweight title as chief support to the Anthony Joshua-Carlos Takam heavyweight clash at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday.
Both fighters sport unbeaten records, although Yafai has a much deeper amateur foundation. That combined with the fact that Ishida has never faced a distinguished opponent has led oddsmakers to install Yafai as a prohibitive 7-1 favorite.
Ishida (24-0, 13 knockouts) remains focused on the task, however, and is confident of causing the upset.
“All I am thinking right now is to prevail against Yafai,” Ishida told RingTV.com through translator Tomoyuki Kataoka. “I don’t have any special impression of him.”
As well as fighting abroad for the first time, Ishida will also be performing before an expected 80,000 fans. Motivated to achieve a career-long ambition, the challenger remains unfazed by the scale of the event.
“I don’t and won’t feel nervous about the fight, regardless of the size of the stadium,” Ishida said. “All I have to do is to fight to the best of my ability and win.”
To prepare himself for this assignment, Ishida set up camp in Shirahama beach, Wakayama, close to Osaka, in September. The 25-year-old pressure-fighter feels that he’s in peak condition for his mandatory challenge.
“I have continued running to build my physical strength and sparred with many boxers,” he said of his grueling training regime. “I am convinced that I have trained for the fight perfectly.”
Yafai (22-0, 14 KOs) won the WBA title last December with a comprehensive decision win over Luis Concepcion. Since then, the former amateur standout has defended once, outpointing Ishida’s countryman Suguru Muranaka.
The defending titleholder, who is rated No. 5 by THE RING at 115 pounds, will be hoping to continue his impressive run to set up bigger showdowns with the elite players in the division.
Ishida will be looking to spoil those plans and Kazunori Ioka, head of the Ioka gym in Osaka, believes his fighter has a chance to put his name in the record books.
“Both boxers have never lost, and they will have a very hard and high-level bout,” said Ioka, the father of three-weight world titleholder Kazuto Ioka. “However, we hope Ishida becomes the first Japanese-born fighter to win a world title in Europe.”
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing