Shimizu, current flyweight King of Pancrase, will put his belt on the line against Sunabe once more at Pancrase’s fifth “Impressive Tour” stop, the promotion announced this week. The show takes place June 5 at Differ Ariake arena in Tokyo.
The match will mark the third title bout and fourth overall meeting between the 125-pound standouts, who first locked horns in Shimizu’s June 2008 pro debut. Sunabe, then a seven-year veteran of the sport, earned a two-round unanimous decision; in his next fight, the Okinawan became Pancrase’s first ever flyweight ace with a knockout of Takuya Eizumi.
Shimizu would have his revenge, however, snatching Sunabe’s title with a closely contested, three-round majority decision in February 2010. A championship rubber match on Dec. 5 yielded another exciting three-rounder, but ended in a frustrating split draw. Shortly thereafter, Pancrase officials vowed to match the pair up again as soon as possible.
Shimizu (Pictured) has won back-to-back contests since his last encounter with Sunabe, both outside of Pancrase. After taking a one-round split decision over Ichiro Sugita in a “jacket rules” match at Sengoku’s Dec. 30 “Soul of Fight,” the 27-year-old SK Absolute representative made his second venture to the Shooto ring on April 1. There, Shimizu took out hard-nosed Shooto ranker Junya “Kodo” Kudo via rear-naked choke.
Sunabe, 31, has not competed since the December draw. The Reversal Gym fighter is 5-1-1 since 2008, the only non-wins coming in his bouts with Shimizu. His 13-6-4 ledger includes a 2002 decision win over ex-Shooto 115-pound champ Rambaa “M-16” Somdet, as well as a slam knockout of Noboru “Shinpei” Tahara last September.
Also set for action on June 5 is a man with whom both Shimizu and Sunabe are familiar, two-time title challenger Isao Hirose. Pancrase’s No. 2-ranked flyweight -- who was bested by Sunabe via decision in 2009 and Shimizu via doctor stoppage in 2010 -- will welcome surging Shootor Seiji “Oz” Otsuka to the promotion.
One of 2010’s most infamous bouts will also get a reprise, as Shigeyuki Uchiyama and Masaya “J-Taro” Takita square off for the second time. The bantamweights’ first bout ended in a no-contest after Uchiyama’s head became entangled in the ring ropes, partially severing his right ear.
Additional participants announced for the card include welterweight King of Pancrase Takenori Sato, former Sengoku featherweight champion Masanori Kanehara, current Pancrase head Ryo Kawamura, and women’s veteran “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba.