Genpei Hayashi has had to wait a while for his lightweight title fight with Tatsuya Saika to happen. It has been postponed several times but the 30 year old is far from frustrated.
In fact he feels he has a better chance of beating Saika now than he did when the fight was first booked in February,
âFor me itâs been a huge plus. Iâve been able to use the time well.â
The two will finally face off at Pancrase 318 on Sunday. Hayashi has been training with the likes of Yushin Okami, Ken Hasegawa and Tatsuya Mizuno and feels their collective experience has helped take his game to the next level,
âIâve been able to train with Japanese fighters whoâve fought at the world class level. My skills have improved, but the biggest has been my will power, my drive has really increased. Iâm really grateful for and fortunate with my training environment, and I feel like Iâm heading in a good direction. If I want to aim for world class level Iâm in the right place.â
Both fighters are renowned for their striking but with a title on the line Hayashi is realistic when assessing how the fight will play out,
âHe likes striking too, so I think heâll keep coming with punches. His boxing is very accurate, so he might be looking for counterpunches. Still, itâs a title match and whatever happens, when we hit the fourth and fifth rounds, we both want the belt, so I donât think itâll be just striking.â
All guns blazing
However he fully expects his opponent to come out all guns blazing and look for the early finish,
âSaika is looking for the first round KO, but on the other hand Iâve got a strong chin. It could go either way, but if I can take punishment, Iâll get him in the end. I think itâs going to be an exciting fight.â
It is less than two years since Hayashi was competing in the middleweight division. Results didnât go his way but he feels the time spent competing with 185lbers toughened him up,
âMoving up to middleweight for a time was big for me. I have quite a lot more power now, and I think itâs made me tougher.â
Hayashi has not fought yet this year. He earned the title shot with back to back wins in 2019 but is returning after a lengthy layoff.
He made his debut in 2012 and is a veteran of 19 fights. Fans are familiar with Hayashiâs style, he has no intention of changing it and says Saika should expect a âfierce battleâ on Sunday,
âIâm a brawler so itâs going to be a fierce battle.â