January 9th 2006-Pacifico, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Eagle Den Junlaphan (14-1, 5) Vs Ken Nakajima (14-2, 8)
Thailand's Den Junlaphan was one of the many fighters who created a name for himself fighting in a country other than the one he was born in. In "Eagle's" case he was born in Thailand but made a career for himself in Japan where he enjoyed considerable success as a brilliant Minimumweight who fought in 9 straight WBC Minimumweight title bouts, winning 7. One of those bouts saw him defending the title against Japanese native Ken Nakajima in a bout that looked very even on paper.
In December 2004 the Japanese based Thai Den Junlaphan lost the WBC Minimumweight title to Isaac Bustos after suffering a very nasty injury to his right arm. The loss was Junlaphan's first as a professional and kept him out of the ring for 8 months. In that time Bustos had himself lost the WBC title to rising Japanese youngster Katsunari Takayama.
With his injury healed Den Junlaphan was back in action to fight Takayama and regain his world title. His shoulder was healed and he was back to reclaim what he felt was his and show up the 21 year old Takayama who actually looked like a child when stood near Junlaphan.
The bout, from the opening round to the final bell was great action with both men fighting at a very high pace. Neither seemed to mind throwing one to land one and neither man seemed to dislike the challenge of the other. Unfortunately for Takayama however the shots of Junlaphan seemed to have more power on them even though Takayama often seemed to land higher number of punches.
The only bad thing about this contest were the scorecards with one judge managing to see the fight as a 119-111 fight in favour of Den Junlaphan, it was a bout that could have gone either way and a card that was that wide really didn't give Takayama any credit for his part in a enthralling contest.
At the time of writing Takayama is one of two active world champions that Den Junlaphan beat, alongside Akira Yaegashi.
*Den Junlaphan fought as Eagle Kyowa
(Video is thanks to JohnnyNawiedzony)
It's rare for fighters to make a home away from home but Den Junlaphan certainly did that and despite being born in Thailand he will always be viewed as a Japanese fighter by many, after all it was in Japan that he made his name and it was in Japan that he really carved out a career as one of the top Minimumweights in the mid to late 00's.
Sadly for Den Junlaphan it was also in Japan that he suffered his first professional loss and his only stoppage loss in a major upset to Mexico's limited but tough Isaac Bustos. More disappointing than just losing was the way he lost, being forced to retire after damaging his own arm in round 3. Prior to the injury he appeared to be in control of the fight though you can see him feeling the injury coming on very early in round 3. From then on there was simply too much time in the contest to fight 1-handed.
It's was a very unfortunate way to lose the title but he would later regain the belt to become a 2-time world champion by beating Katsunari Takayama who had taken the belt from Bustos just 4 months after this bout.
*At the time of this fight Den Junlphan was fighting as Eagle Kyowa
(Video thanks to BoxeoAmadeo)
The recent announcement regarding the fight between Akira Yaegashi and the very talented Roman Gonzalez saw us going through the vault to find some of Yaegashi's most interesting fights from the past few years, one of those fights was his battle with the Japanese Thai Eagle Den Junlaphan.
This bout, from way back in 2007, was Yaegashi's 7th professional contest and saw him in his first world title bout taking on the very talented Eagle Den, a fighter who at the time was making the 4th defence of his second reign as he WBC Minimumweight champion. Unfortunately it was too much too soon for Yaegashi who fought much of the bout with a jaw injury, relying on his toughness and heart to see out the distance.
Although this was Yaegashi's first loss it didn't stop him from rising through the ranks and later becoming a 2-weight world champion and one of the leading figures in Japanese boxing. It was, considering the situation, a brave and gutsy performance and one that would signify the toughness of Yaegashi, the same toughness that he will need to over-come Gonzalez when the two men meet on September 5th.
(Video courtesy JohnnyNawiedzony)
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