The trio of unbeaten titlists are part of a new wave of strawweights talented and entertaining enough to entice an audience beyond the sport’s most fervent fanbase. Puerto Rico’s Collazo holds the WBO belt, while the WBC and IBF titles belong to Yudai and Ginjiro Shigeoka, respectively. “I really think it’s possible,” Collazo told of the chance for at least one unification bout. “Everyone wants to see an undisputed champion in every division. I get asked all the time about fighting those guys.”
Thammanoon Niyomtrong (better known at fight parties as Knockout CP Freshmart) is the WBA title claimant, though grossly inactive and seemingly disinterested in facing the best. The opposite has proven true of the remaining three strawweight titlists, all of whom are 27 years of age or younger. Collazo (9-0, 7KOs), 27, recently defended his title in a third-round knockout of Reyneris Gutierrez on January 27 in Phoenix, Arizona. The bout was his fourth in a span of exactly 52 weeks and fifth dating back to July 2022, when Niytomtrong (24-0, 9KOs) last fought. Yudai Shigeoka (8-0, 5KOs) fought twice in 2023, where he won the interim and full WBC strawweight titles in succession. The 26-year-old Tokyo-based southpaw knocked out Wilfredo Mendez in the seventh round of their April 16 interim title fight. He then upgraded to full title status with a lopsided decision victory over Panya Pradabsri last October 7 at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. The same October show saw Ginjiro Shigeoka (10-0, 8KOs; 1NC) wrap up his three-fight campaign with a revenge-fueled, fifth-round knockout of Daniel Valladares. Both Shigeokas are set for separate title defenses versus Filipino challengers this coming spring. Yudai will face former WBO titleholder Melvin Jerusalem (22-3, 13KOs), while Ginjiro defends versus former title challenger ArAr Andales (14-2-3, 6KOs).
Collazo will likely make a mandatory title defense in late April or early May. Wins by all could lead to some form of a Collazo-Shigeoka unification bout later this year. “That’s what I really want, and I honestly think the Shigeoka brothers want to fight me too,” stated Collazo. “Hopefully Knockout CP Freshmart as well. But he don’t want to fight anybody, he can just give up that belt and make room for people who want to fight the best. We’re not here to waste time. I want to stay active and win all those belts.” Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox