This coming Sunday sees the debut of the man who is supposed to be the next big star of Japanese boxing, Hinata Maruta. The 18 year old is looking to make a huge splash as he takes part in a true baptism of fire and takes on world ranked Filipino fighter Jason Canoy (24-5-2, 18), a big puncher with a solid chin and a real point to prove.
Through history various fighters have jumped in a the deep end and whilst not all of them turned out as stars some did. Here we take a look at several other fighters who debuted against a very high level of competition.
Fidel LaBarba (October 14th 1924)
In 1924 Fidel LaBarba won the Olympic Flyweight gold, just months later he turned professional and took on the very experienced Frankie Grandetta (then 21-13-11). The bout was only a 4 rounder but it was a very impressive showing by the 19 year old LaBarba who battered Grandetta though couldn't force a stoppage. Interestingly 3 of LaBabra's next 4 bouts saw him up against the great Jimmy McLarnin, with whom LaBarba went 0-2-1.
Although LaBarba did pick up a couple of losses and a couple of draws he did manage to claim the NBA Flyweight title in just his 11th professional bout, beating Frankie Genaro in August 1925 and he was later inducted in to the IBHOF.
Samart Payakaroon (August 24th 1982)
Muay Thai great Samart Payakaroon was another Thai who jumped in at the deep end. Aged 19 at the time Samart debuted against former WBC Light Flyweight champion Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh (who entered the bout 29-6, 15). At the time Nernoi was showing signs of his hard career, and had been stopped in 2 of his previous 3, though at 23 years old and fighting from the southpaw stance the 23 year old former champion was still a very formidable opponent, who took Samart the distance in a 10 round bout.
It would take less than 4 years for Samart to go on to claim his first world title, winning the WBC Super Bantamweight title in January 1986, stopping the great Lupe Pintor for the belt.
Rafael Marquez (September 14th 1995)
Rafael Marquez, the “lesser” of the two fighting Marquez brothers, debuted back when he was 20 and was thrown in to an unusual bout with former WBC Bantamweight champion Victor Rabanales (then 39-14-2, 21), who was then a 32 year old looking to get another shot at a world title. The bout saw Marquez suffer an 8th round TKO loss to his fellow Mexican thought the bout would be a controversial one with many, including Marquez himself, considering it as an exhibition.
Despite the loss Marquez certainly went on to have a great career claiming the IBF Bantamweight and WBC Super Bantamweight titles during his career, though is of course best remembered for his for 4 fight series with Israel Vazquez.
Vasyl Lomachenko (October 12th 2013)
Ukrainian amateur great Vasyl Lomachenko caused a storm just over 2 years ago when he debuted in a WBO International Featherweight title fight against the then world ranked Jose Ramirez (who was 25-3, 15). At the time the bout was seen as a great test for Lomachenko, and the sort of measuring stick that the 2 time Olympic champion needed. As it turned out it was a fun bout that showcased Lomachenko's defensive ability and poise, as well as his shot selection as he took Ramirez apart in 4 rounds.
Sadly Lomachenko's dream to set a record by claiming a title in his second fight failed to materialise as he was beaten by Orlando Salido, but he did tie the record of Saensak Muangsurin as he won a title in his third professional bout, defeating Gary Russell Jr for he WBO Featherweight crown.
As far as Japanese fighters, it's fair to say that Maruta isn't the only one to face a tough challenge, but he's arguably facing the toughest opponent of any. Saying that however a number of Japanese fighters have fought solid competition in recent debuts.
Naoya Inoue (October 2nd 2012)
Japanese wunderkind Naoya Inoue made his debut against the then Filipino champion Crison Omayao (then 16-4-1, 4). Omayao had never been stopped and had been in with good competition, including current WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin and Yuki Chinen. He was however no match for Inoue who stopped him in round 4 with a brutal shot to the body. Since then win he has become the quickest fighter, in history, to become a 2-weight world champion. Despite hand issues he's set to fight in late December, making the first defense of his WBO Super Flyweight title.
Ryota Murata (August 25th 2013)
Lomachenko wasn't the only 2012 Olympic champion to face a notable foe, as Middleweight sensation Ryota Murata began his career with a bout against the then OPBF champion Akio Shibata (then 21-7-1, 9). Murata was expected to to be tested but bulldozed Shibata in 2 rounds, dropping the more experienced man in the opening stanza before forcing a stoppage. Interestingly Shibata has since unified the OPBF and Japanese titles, showing just how impressive this was a debut.
Kosei Tanaka (November 10th 2013)
Just months after Murata made his debut we saw wonderkid Kosei Tanaka make his debut as he took on the then world ranked Oscar Raknafa (then 12-4, 5). On paper it looked like a good test for the 18 year old “KO Dream Boy” thought it turned into a show case for the quick and skilled Tanaka who dropped Raknafa en route to a clear 6 round decision win for the youngster. Since the win Tanaka has raced to the top and claimed the WBO Minimumweight title in just his 5th pro bout, just over 18 months after this win. He'll be defending that title on December 31st against Vic Saludar.
Takuma Inoue (December 6th 2013)
Naoya Inoue's younger brother Takuma Inoue also made an impressive debut as he faced Japanese ranked foe Tatsuya Fukuhara (who was 12-3-3, 3). The bout saw the then 17 year old Takum take a clear 6 round decision though was asked question by Fukuhara who later went on to prove his worth by fighting to a draw with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and will be fighting for a Japanese title this coming Sunday. Since the win Inoue has claimed the OPBF title and strung together a series of good wins as he has began knocking on the door of a world title fight. He'll be next in the ring in December to defend his regional title.
Ken Shiro (August 3rd 2014)
The most recent Japanese youngster to make a statement on his debut was Ken Shiro who debuted just 15 months ago against experienced Indonesian Heri Amol (then 36-17-4, 15). Amol wasn't a major threat but was a reasonable threat given that he had previously fought for the PABA and OPBF titles and had held other, minor, regional titles. Ken Shiro however proved his class with a dominant win over the Indonesian who was left chasing shadows through out the bout. Since the win Ken Shiro has claimed the WBC title and is now preparing for a Japanese title fight, set to take place in December.
Of Course not all fighters who fight in tough debuts go all the way. A few example of these include-
Pete Rademacher (August 22nd 1957)
American fighter Pete Rademacher was the 1956 Olympic Heavyweight champion who likely faced the toughest debut in history, facing the then Heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson (then 32-1, 23) in what was regarded as a gross mismatch. The 28 year old Rademacher dropped Patterson in round 2 though was dropped numerous times before being stopped himself in round 6. Despite losing to Patterson, and then Zora Folley in his second bout, Rademacher did notch himself some worthwhile wins, including victories over LaMar Clark, George Chuvalo and Bobo Olson.
Rafael Lovera (September 13th 1975)
Paraguayan fighter Rafael Lovera made his debut in a bout for the WBC Light Flyweight title as he faced Luis Estaba (then 28-7-2, 20). The Paraguayan was some how ranked by the WBC Ranking Committee who appeared to believe that Lovera had actually had some experience as a professional though, in the days before boxrec, checking wasn't done in a particularly way and for whatever reason Lovera manage to debut in a title fight, like Rademacher. Sadly for Lovera he was stopped in 4 rounds by Estaba in what appears to have been his only bout as a professional boxer.
Arturo Mayan (January 7th 1994)
Not much is known about Arturo Mayan though it's widely believed that he holds the record for the shortest career of any world title challenger, with a career that lasted just 90 seconds. That 90 seconds came in his debut, an opening round blow out loss to Puerto Rican Alex Sanchez (then 12-0, 9). Sanchez was making the first defense of the WBO Minimuwmeight title, which he had won just weeks earlier, and did so with easy in what appears to have been a bout that really was a farce.
We know we have missed some notable debuts from this short list, but we hope we have covered many of the most notable ahead of Maruta's highly anticipated match up with Canoy.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces