Firstly we were calling the Omar Figueroa/Nihito Arakawa bout the fight of the year, then came the memorable war in Thailand between Koki Eto and Kompayak Porpramook. Well Takashi Miura (26-2-2, 19) against Sergio Thompson (27-3, 25) may well have stolen the honour and if not it's put up a hell of a challenge.
Miura, defending his WBC Super Featherweight title for the first time had been forced to go to Mexico to face #1 challenger Thompson, a man viewed as a real danger. Thompson, who's best win came via 2nd round TKO over Jorge Linares was a guy with a real reputation as a tough and hard hitting fighter who no one would willingly fight and of course Miura was similar with dynamite power and a Japanese mentality.
It was obvious from the moment this was signed that it was going to be special.
We'll admit we had high hopes for this though what we didn't expect was for it to exceed our expectations almost from the off.
The opening round was an interesting one and probably one of the worst. Miura spent much of it scouting Thompson who instead of boxing just winged in wild, loping right hands. It was easy for the Japanese southpaw to avoid many of the swings though he himself wasn't as reckless as Thompson and appeared to shake Thompson near the end of the round with pretty much his first left hand.
The first round made it clear that Miura was technically the better boxer. Thompson, for all of his reputation as a puncher didn't appear capable of setting up his shots and seemed almost unable to understand that he was fighting a southpaw.
Miura started the second quicker than he had started the opening round and managed to drop Thompson who took an "8 count" whilst sitting down before getting to his feet. As soon as the referee allowed them to fight on Miura was back on the attack and seemed almost intent on finishing this quickly rather than dragging it out, Thompson however saw out the round proving his toughness and his will to win.
If the second round was great the third was even better as both men traded bomb after bomb after bomb. This was the sort of action you see more often in a video game or movie than a real fight and it seemed like one man, or the other was going to go down after ever shot. The action raised the crowd who were very pro-Thompson and started chanting "Ye-Yo", the nickname of the Mexican, though couldn't help their man who was being bullied by the end of the round.
The bullying by Miura continued in the fourth round as the Japanese champion really tried to take Thompson out of the fight again. It was beginning to look a bit like a man against a boy and poor Thompson was the boy who was beginning to take a bit of a beating.
It appeared obvious that Miura was in the lead through the first 4 rounds, he had scored a 10-8 round and appeared to be bossing Thompson, but when the open scoring was announced the crowd booed the fact Miura was in the lead. It seemed as if the fans had expected their man to be winning rounds despite taking a beating in several of them.
It wasn't until the fifth round that Thompson really found some traction in the fight as he used his jab and moved much better than he had in the previous rounds. This seemed to suggest that Thompson, if he chose to box, could claim rounds with out being broken up by the power punching and aggressiveness of Miura though of course boxing isn't typically the Mexican mentality.
The Mexican mentality, as we all know, is to say "I have bigger balls than you and I'm here to have a fight" and that's exactly what Thompson did in round 6 as he hurt Miura badly for the first time. Miura seemed ready to go down for the first time in the fight but somehow managed to hold and recover before fighting back and dropping Thompson flat on his face. Some how the referee didn't call a knockdown from Thompson falling though was forced to soon afterwards as Miura scored his second 10-8 round and almost finished off Thompson before the round was over.
Thompson seemed to realise that going to war with Miura was a stupid idea and that it didn't really matter on the size of his balls if he could win the fight so in the seventh round he went back to boxing. With the crowd loudly chanting "Ye-Yo" once again it seemed like Thompson had taken his second clear round and once again had shown that he could beat Miura by boxing.
It's said that success breeds success and that seemed true for Thompson who built on the seventh round by dropping Miura in the eighth scoring his first stoppage. With Miura still hurt Thompson pounced on him trying to turn the fight around in one big assault but the Japanese fighter used his experience to try and hold on. Unfortunately for Miura his holding didn't work but instead his power did as he rocked Thompson, then get rocked himself, then rocked Thompson and got rocked himself again in some insane back and forth action.
Despite Thompson twice being knocked down the crowd again booed when the open scoring for the first 8 rounds were announced. It was again as if they were unable to see their man was losing, putting up a brave fight for sure but losing despite a effort in the seventh and eighth rounds.
Having seen out the hairy moments in the eighth round Miura was again on the front foot in the ninth despite his nose and eye being bloodied. He appeared to rock Thompson once again before a clash of heads saw Thompson going down. It seemed that Thompson, who was ruled fit to continue after the headclash, had all but punched himself out and he struggled to land much of note in a round that allowed Miura to steady the ship.
Miura seemed to be able to sense that Thompson had little left to offer and really went on a hard charge in the tenth round looking to not just win the round but to win the fight. Thompson, to everyone's amazement managed to stay on his feet despite taking an absolute hammering from Miura who seemed intent on keeping the decision out of the judges hands.
Thompson managed to see off the tenth round assault though was again blasted in the eleventh round by Miura who seemed to be sure that he needed a knockout. To a neutral observer he was clearly in the lead though to those watching at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun the fight was close and with a possible robbery playing on the mind of Miura he just kept hunting the knockout.
Surprisingly Thompson managed to see his way through the eleventh and then through the twelfth, a round in which he actually had some success off his own, though it seemed clear that the Japanese fighter had retained hit title in a very dangerous defense.
Unfortunately fighting away from home things are never as clear cut as they seem and the scorecards, announced in Spanish by the classy Jimmy Lennon Jr were bewilderingly close at 113-112, 114-110 and 114-111, though thankfully all 3 were in favour of Miura who certainly made some new fans even if the Mexican's didn't want to full admit it.
Interestingly Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa was sat ringside cheering on Thompson. There had been talk recently of Gamboa facing Takashi Uchiyama in the US though with Miura's win here it's fair to say Japanese fans will be clamouring to see Uchiyama/Miura II a bout that we've got to admit, we'd love.