Shinya Aoki to meet Toshikatsu Harada at Dec. 31 IGF event
Shinya AokiÂ has an opponent for his Dec. 31 return to fighting, though it’s not exactly a household name.
Aoki (34-6), a former DREAM champ and the reigning ONE FC lightweight titleholder, will meet fellow 155-pounder Toshikatsu HaradaÂ (11-9-2) at Inoki Genome Federation’s Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2013 event, which takes place at Ryougoku Sumo Hall in Tokyo.
The card, which includes a Kazuyuki Fujita (15-9) vs. Satoshi Ishii (10-2-1) heavyweight headliner, features a combination of MMA and pro-wrestling matchups.
Aoki, who fights for the third time in 2013, has won four straight and 11 of his past 12. The only loss during the stretch came to Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 66 in 2012. This year, he won ONE FC’s lightweight title by submitting Kotetsu Boku, and then after dropping to 145 pounds, he posted a decision victory over Cody Stevens.
Aoki’s ONE FC belt won’t be on the line at the IGN event.
Aoki, once ranked among the world’s top lightweights, has slipped in recent years due to a lack of fights against the sport’s bigger names.
The 30-year-old now meets Harada, who’s winless (0-1-2) in his past three fights. The 31-year-old fighter and M-1 vet, who made his pro debut in 2004, was on an 8-1 run (with eight stoppages) before the recent setbacks, which included a September submission loss to Isamu Sugiuchi.
(Pictured: Shinya Aoki)