One of the amazing things about Closet Classics is getting the chance to find over looked fights featuring fighters who don't get the love they deserve. Today we find one such bout, and it's one that has often gone over-looked and is a genuine hidden gem of the Asian boxing world. It wasn't a Fight of the Year contender, but was a surprisingly fun to watch bout, that combined skills, action and featured a modern day star. Also it was a bout that got better the long it went,
Chris John (33-0, 19) vs Osamu Sato (26-2-3, 15)
When we think of Indonesian legend Chris John we don't typically think of thrilling bouts and all out wars. In fact for the most part we think of John's technical skills, his speed, his smart combinations and his ability to get in and out without taking too much damage. What's often forgotten however is that John had real dog in him, and when he needed to fight he could. He wasn't afraid of having a fight, as he did in his 1997 thriller with Muhammad Alfaridzi. He were have another of Johnson's more action packed bouts as the "Dragon" went to Japan to defend his WBA Featherweight title.
For John the bout was his first defense of the WBA title, after being upgraded from the interim champion that he'd become when he beat Oscar Leon around 9 months earlier.
Osamu Sato, who had been involved in some thrillers by this point, was well known for his action bouts, including his 2002 thriller with Willie Jorin, and his come brilliant bout with Yoddamrong Sithyodthong. Entering this bout he had been a former WBA Super Bantamweight champion, and despite only having a short lived reign "Hulk" was still very popular in his homeland thanks to aggressive style, and pressure mentality. He wasn't the most polished fighter out there, but was a physically strong and imposing one with a great engine and a genuine will to win.
From the opening round it was clear that Sato lacked the skills to box with John, but that had never held Sato back in the past against better boxers, like Yoddamrong and Jorin, as he fought to his strengths. He wasn't going to try and out point the Indonesian, but instead he was going to try and out fight John, out muscle him and out strength him. He was going to press, push, come forward and fight.
The opening round saw John as the aggressor quite often, whilst Sato often backed off, trying to get a read on the champion. It was something we'd seen a lot from Sato over the years, with the Japanese local coming forward in bursts. From then on however we began to see Sato coming forward more and more often.
With Sato pressing for much of the fight it left him open to clean counters as, but he had moments of success himself, with his blows not looking as clean, but looking heavier. He looked to be the aggressor, pushing the fight more round by round, again a tactic we had seen from him in the past. The difference in hand speed and technique was obvious, but the pressure from Sato often forced John to move away, rest and was having success, albeit rather limited success at times.
As the bout went on Sato's aggression continued, launching huge right hands around the guard of John, who was forced to pick his counter shots more intelligently, leaping on the mistakes Sato made. Sato's desperation made the action more and more thrilling, and yet John didn't get engaged in a sloppy war, but boxed, a brilliant, polished fight against a fun and aggressive fighter, who became the perfect foil for the Indonesian.
This bout wasn't the most action packed, or competitive, but it was a pretty fun, clean bout that had an edge of drama running through out and saw both men landing a solid number of big shots. A real fun bout with an excellent final round.
We bring another in our mini-series of commercials featuring boxers, and here we have an interesting mix of legends bringing us a very varied variety of products and quality of commercials.
Manny Pacquiao - Hennessy
Filipino great Manny Pacquiao was in so many adverts that it was clear some of them would be complete stinkers. We think this one for Hennessy isn't a good one. The product isn't featured at all until the final few frames and it tells us little about the product. The sense of fun Pacquiao pokes at himself in most of his adverts is gone and the whole commercial just takes it's self way too seriously.
Manny Pacquiao and Chris John - Kuku Bima Ener-G
From an overly serious advert with Manny Pacquiao to one featuring Pacquiao and Chris John selling an energy drink with tigers and dragons. This is much more the style of silly commercial we are used to seeing from Pacquiao, and it really tries to sell the product. This is a commercial that isn't taking it's self seriously and uses the people involved pretty well. We've never tried the product but on the back of this we'd like to.
Guts Ishimatsu - Ape Escape
Manny Pacquiao isn't the only Asian boxer featured in a lot of commercials. Another is Guts Ishimatsu, who's adverts really are varied from food to subscription services to video games! Here's his advert for popular Playstation video games Ape Escape, featuring Ishimatsu, and his acting chops, and a giant Ape.
Hiroki Ioka - Top Boy
Western readers will be well ahead of "Head and Shoulders" and it appears there's a Japanese product that is similar, combining Shampoo and Conditioner. That is Top Boy. Here we have a 1988 advert featuring Hiroki Ioka trying to sell the product. This is one of those commercials where the subject matter seems to come second to the people involved in what is a real 80's advert. A little camp, a little garish ans certainly not something that would help sell the product in this day and age.
Yoko Gushiken - Ishigaki Memorial Park
Someone who has done quite a lot of adverts over the years is Japanese legend Yoko Gushiken. Sometimes they really don't make the most of his ability to catch the eye, but this one does, as we see a lot of Gushiken, or is that Gushiken's, singing and trying to entice people to Ishigaki Memorial Park. This is silly, daft, and shows Gushiken having some fun. A simple but effective commercial!
After having had fun in January with our first look at boxer's in commercials we've decided to make it a mini-series. Today we look at 5 more featuring fighters from Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia, including some genuine legends of the sport...and someone who wasn't such a big legend.
Tomomi Takano - Laudarin'
We started the first one of these with a Tomomi Takano advert for a kitchen spray so we though we should show Takano in another advert, this time for a fabric softener...yeah Japan should be ashamed, and so should the guys watching this one multiple times. We'll admit it made us somewhat interested in the product and we found out Takano actually did two adverts for the company, this one and one with her in a dress heading for a night out.
Joichiro Tatsuyoshi - Nissan
As the biggest name in Japanese boxing for much of the 1990's we were surprised to not find a lot of Joichiro Tatsuyoshi adverts. What we did find was an anti-bullying message, after the fighter had been bullied as a child, this short advert for Nissan from 1995 and one other, for a beef product. It really is odd how little marketers seemed to use the charismatic Osaka.
Koichi Wajima - Boxer's Road 2: The Real
One thing we never expected to come across was a Koichi Wajima advert for a video game, especially not in the 00's when Wajima was into his 60's! But here were are with Wajima being featured in an advert for a PSP game "Boxer's Road 2: The Real". The game was a boxing game featuring over 100 professional fighters and 77 gyms. Sadly the game doesn't appear to have made the jump over to the West, but you never maybe Boxer's Road 3 could do so, with the attention the Japanese scene is now getting...we can hope right!
Chris John - Extra Joss
One man who was in a lot of adverts in Indonesia was Chris John, in fact he was in a lot with Manny Pacquiao. Here is John trying to show the effects of Extra Joss. From a quick glance on wikipedia Extra Joss is a health drink, that is typically sold in powder form, and required the addition and was originally aimed at the less economically well off in Indonesia, hence coming as a powder.
Manny Pacquiao - HP Touchpad
We've just mentioned that Chris John did a number of commercials with Manny Pacquiao, and here's one Manny did by himself. In fact the sheer number of commercials Pacquiao did could have filled a number of these articles by himself, and they are incredibly varied ranging from shoe stores to drinks, to sardines to this, for the HP Touchpad. This sees the Filipino legend poking fun at himself a little whilst also showing off the product. Simple but effective.
Indonesian great Chris John (48-1-3, 22) would have been in serious conversation for a top 10 place, had this list been based on what a fighter did from 2000 to 2009. Sadly for John his career had peaked well before start of the decade, though he still managed to do a surprising amount at the very start of the decade. Enough to earn a notable mention.
From the start of the decade John went 5-1-1, with all 7 of his bouts being world title bouts. None of them came against A tier competition, but he did manage to defend his WBA Featherweight title against notable contenders, Fernando David Saucedo, Daud Yordan, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Satoshi Hosono, before losing at the end of 2013 to the excellent Simpiwe Vetyeka.
In the previous decade John had beaten the likes of Derrick Gainer, Juan Manuel Marquez, Hiroyuki Enoki and Rocky Juarez, among others. Whilst he got some favours from the judges at times few could argue with his quality and ability. Unlike most champions he also did his stuff on the road, travelling to Japan, Singapore, the US and Australia. Sadly though by the turn of 2010 he was already 30 and he had the clock ticking down on his career.
Often mis-remembered in the west John was a very talented boxer, and it's a shame that Western promoters couldn't lure him over for bouts against the biggest names of era. He showed a willingness to travel, but it wasn't until 2009 that he fought in North America, twice facing Rocky Juarez in the US. By then John was already on the slide and the slide continued until he lost, in his 52nd pro bout, to Vetyeka.
For a guy to only have 7 fights and earn an honourable mention is impressive, and it's a shame Indonesian boxing still hasn't been able to replace "The Dragon", though there is hope that Indonesia's 5th world champion is out there.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features