When we talk about the best rounds we really do need to discuss what makes a round great.
For us a great round has action, and it has two men really battling hard and at a good tempo. However there are lots, and lots of rounds like that. For us there needs to be more than just a high tempo and back and forth, there also needs to be drama, there needs to be a risk, from both sides, of the man being stopped, or being hurt, at the very least.
We want to avoid rounds with excessive holding, and a limit on how much sloppy action and holding a bout has.
Knockdowns and point deductions, except for holding, can also add to a round, giving the action extra drama.
We also want to see both men giving as good as they get, or a major turn around in the round. If one man is decked twice but recovers to stop the other then that is exciting, and deserves to be credited as so. A little bit of controversy thrown in for good measure can also improve the quality of a round.
As with our Knockout of the Year we don't really care about the profile and ranking of the fighters. Two low level fighters giving on a great 3 minutes of action is just as valuable as two top names giving us the same type of action. After all it's the round that we are judging, not the fighters.
For us a round needs to perfectly combine drama, excitement and action, but it needs to stand on it's own as a round. What comes before it and after it are irrelevant. It's that round in isolation that matters.
Rounds that mix everything are few and far between, but we had a number that really had the drama, excitement and action that we needed.
The winner, in the end, was round 2 of the surprisingly amazing war between Junpei Tsujimoto and Daiki Ogura. This was just crazy from start to end and it swung one way and then the other.
The round started at a good pace, with a nice back and forth, but before long Tsujimoto was hurt, badly, by a left hook from Ogura. His legs stiffened and Ogura went in for the finish dropping Tsujimoto. Tsujimoto recovered to his feet but was rocked again and seemed in all sorts of trouble, despite doing all he could to clear his head and spoil the action before returning fire. His fate looked sealed before he landed a huge right hand with 20 seconds of he round remaining to stop Ogura.
The bout may not have been the cleanest action, it may not have had the big names, but it had everything we want to see. It had action, excitement, both men being hurt and a fantastic finish.
We may have had higher quality rounds through the year but no round left us feeling like we'd seen a movie scene quite like this one. Amazing round, amazing comeback.
Also up for this award were:
Zixiang Wang vs Mukhammadiso Zokhidov - Round 2 (A crazy round with Wang being dropped, Zokhidov being deducted a point and then Zokhidov being dropped)
Takuma Takahashi vs Leonardo Doronio - Round 3 (A thrilling round that saw Doronio dropped, Takahashi lucky not to be deducted a point, Doronio coming back to hurt Takahashi, Doronio being rocked again, Takahashi being cut and Doronio then being dropped and stopped)
Satoshi Shimizu vs Kyohei Tonomoto - Round 1 (A bizarre round where Tonomoto easily out boxed Shimizu in front of an empty Korakuen Hall, but was dropped twice in a round that didn't seem to make much sense but was fantastic to watch)
In late 2019 we did a number of short articles under "The Round Review" banner, covering 14 of the best rounds from 2019. Now we've selected one of those as our round of the year.
The round we selected was the brilliant second round from the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title between Toshiya Ishii and Haruki Ishikawa. The bout wasn't aired live anywhere though the bout got rave reviews from fans in the venue. When it was made available to watch, on tape delay, and even knowing the result we didn't expect the round too live up to the expectations we had. Amazingly it exceeded the expectations with the two men really hammering each other with bombs in a thrilling, round of action.
The round pitted two youngsters against each other, and whatever it is Japanese youngsters, facing off for Japanese Youth titles, do tend to provide thrilling action. They seems to want that Youth title to help launch their careers to bigger and better things. That was on show here.
Just seconds into the round we had a knockdown, not long after that the two men rocked each other with simultaneous left hooks as they stood and traded. A few moments of sloppy action, as both tried to get their senses back followed before the round rebuilt to give us an exceptional final 90 seconds or so.
This was a great example of Japanese officiating, with the referee not looking to interfere at every opportunity but letting fight on the inside. Yes the third man was involved a few times but his involvement was short, necessary and not there to break the action but to get it restarted.
This was drama, this was bombs away and this was the start of the end, with the bout ending in round 4 when Ishikawa was almost sent out of the ring.
We know fans will suggest that others rounds deserve this honour, notably the 11th round of Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire, and whilst that was an amazing, really it was, we preferred seeing Ishii and Ishikawa stumbling away from each other, rather than Ernie Sharif giving Inoue a body check. The best thing about 2019 however is that we had about 20 rounds that could all be spoken about in depth. Last year was an amazing year, and a year that should be celebrated for what it delivered!
We wouldn't be exaggerating to say that 2018 was a year that delivered amazing round, after amazing round, after amazing round. Be it round 6 of Akira Yaegashi's brilliant bour with Hirofumi Mukai, round 12 of Rikki Naito's narrow decision win over Daishi Nagata, or round 1 of Satoshi Shimizu's win over Shingo Kawamura. Really this year delivered consistently amazing rounds.
It was a hard to pick a single round for the 2018 Round of the year, but we chose Round 12 of Sho Kimura's [木村翔] bout against Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] as the best round.
It wasn't a round with knockdowns, it didn't even have either man massively rocked. But it was one where two men were biting hard on their gum shields, going to war know the final round could well decide the bout. Both were swollen, both carrying clear damage to their face and both really wanting to win the round. From the opening seconds to the very final moments we had action, we had a brilliant sequence where both threw single right hands, we had speed and skill, desire and hunger.
We know it wasn't the dramatic up and down round that usually sticks in the memory, but it was a round that decided the fight of the year. It had followed 11 previous rounds of action and was two class fighters fighting for the biggest win of their career. It was sensational.
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