The second in our "What a Shock" series looks at another of the Ring Magazine Upset of the Year fights, and comes from almost 40 years ago. It was a genuinely notable result at the time, and a real surprise, though one that is now sadly ill remembered.
August 2nd 1980
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Samuel Serrano (42-4-1, 14) Vs Yasutsune Uehara (25-4, 20)
Puerto Rican fighter Samuel Serrano is one of the many forgotten Puerto Rican's from yesterday. His career began way back in 1969 and ended in 1997, when he was 44. Whilst he didn't fight consistently in the tail of his career he was certainly a man who had a very long and successful career, being a 2-time WBA Super Featherweight champion, and a very skilled fighter who went up against a number of top names.
After losing 4 of his first 24 bouts Serrano had rebuilt with a 23 fight unbeaten run, including 22 wins. That win over seen him win the WBA title in his second show and make 10 defenses, travelling to Ecuador, Venezuela, Japan and South Africa, as well as defending at home before running into the little known Yasutsune Uehara.
Although not a big name outside of Japan Uehara had turned professional with a lot of expectations on his shoulders following an excellent 117-8 (87) amateur record. He signed with Kyoei and took one of the largest signing fees in Japanese boxing history, with those in Japan tipping him for big things. By 1980 however and with 4 losses in his first 29 bouts few gave Uehara much of a chance of doing anything at the top level. He come up short in a previous world title fight, against Ben Villaflor, and had also suffered set backs against Masa Ito and Joe Lim. Despite the poor looking record he had won 10 in a row before getting a shot at Serrano.
This was expected to be Serrano's 11th straight defense, and his first win in the US.
The talented Puerto Rican did what was expected early on. He out boxed the Japanese fighter, using his skills, timing and jab to remain on the outside, landing at range and racking up the points in the early going. Through the first 5 rounds it was a shut out in favour of the champion who looked so much better than the challenger. Uehara never stopped trying, but never seemed to get going and struggled to even close to Serrano at times. When he did get close that's when Serrano clinched and forced the referee to split them.
For almost 6 complete rounds things went as Serrano and his team would have wished. That was until late in round 6, when Uehara's right hand finally landed clean and gave Serrano a warning shot. It was something Serrano take heed of and he was tagged with another only a few seconds later. Then a third. This one was clean, sending the incredibly skilled Serrano down, hard. He couldn't beat the count, and was instead counted out as Uehara took the 6th round KO win at a time of 2:59 seconds.
Although this was a short lived success for Uehara, who lost a rematch only 8 months later, it was still a massive upset and one of the very few big wins for Uehara, who had beaten Ricardo Arredondo very early in his career. It was also only the 5th time a Japanese fighter had won a world title outside of Japan.
Our new "What a Shock!" feature is where we look at major upsets that have some connection to Asia.
As a result these will be full of spoilers, so please be warned that we will be making it very obvious who won and lost these bouts. Thankfully we won't be using any recent (last 6 months) bouts in this section so there is clearly some lee-way for fans catching up on recent contests.
We also won't reveal the names of the fighters in the title of any of these articles, but they certainly won't be hard to find, if you do open them.
With that said, lets get on to our first "What a shock!"
October 10th 2009
Yoyogi #2 Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
Jorge Linares (27-0, 18) Vs Juan Carlos Salgado (20-0-1, 14)
In 2009 Jorge Linares was seen as the rising star of Venezuela and one of the big faces of the future for Japanese promotional power house Teiken. He had also recently inked a co-promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions and this was supposed to be one of, if not the, final fight in Japan before he launched a full scale attack on the American market. He was a wonderfully talented fighter, one of the best natural talents in the sport, and a fighter who looked like he was going to be a genuine star and was already a 2-weight world champion. The only problem was his chin, and he had been dropped a few times as he rose through the ranks, including being put down by Chawan So Vorapin in 2003 and by Jean Javier Sotelo in 2005. Despite the question marks over his chin the view was that a win here would open the door to a unification bout.
Relatively little was known about Salgado who was 24 but without a win of real note on his record. He was unbeaten but untested and all of his bouts had taken place in either Mexico or the US, except for a single fight in Costa Rica that ended with a draw. He had stopped just 1 of his previous 4 opponents coming in to this and although perhaps seen as a danger man on the Mexican scene he was just supposed to be another easy win for Linares. Even those who were fans of Salgado viewed him as a prospect, and one with issues in terms of activity, going up against one of the most talented fighters out there.
What no one expected to see was for Salgado to put Linares on his backside after just 46 seconds with pretty much the first meaningful punch he landed. Linares got to his feet but, as we've seen from Linares in recent years, he never recovered and Salgado was all over him as soon as the bout continued. Salgado's follow up forced the referee to step in and completely silence the venue.
Fan had come to see Linares show what he could do, and instead their hero had been taken out in just 73 seconds!
This is short, but also a real, real shock!
Sure, what we know now about Linares makes this win look less impressive than it was at the time, but back in 2009 this was a massive surprise and one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).