Fight fans love a rivalry even if not all rivalries are based on bad blood and dislike of each other. In fact some of the best rivalries are based on mutual respect and and the determination to prove that you are better than your opponent.
In the Bantamweight division between 2000 and 2004 there was one fantastic rivalry as Thailand's brilliant Veeraphol Sahaprom (66-4-2, 46) and Japan's excellent Toshiaki Nishioka (39-5-3, 24) met 4 times in less than 4 years. The bouts may never have gone in favour of Nishioka with 2 draws and 2 bouts won by the Thai but they were all brilliant contests that showed the spirit of both men, the sense of a true rivalry and the respect of two classy fighters.
Now, more than a decade after their final meeting, the two have met up again as Veeraphol was the guest at the gym Nishioka currently runs. The rivalry may have been ended but the respect is certainly still there and it was shown as Veeraphol handed Nishioka a gift, the gown he wore for the fourth meeting between the two fighters.
Although known as the "Deathmask" by some Veeraphol did crack a number of smiles whilst having a meal with Nishioka as the two men seemingly had a great time together, something that was great to see all these years on.
(Image courtesy of Toshiaki Nishioka's blog)
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