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.
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