We continue our look at under-rated fighters by look at the first decade of this current century and we suspect some of these names will be more familiar to some fight fans than some of the other names we've features.
As with the other articles in the series we have got a few basic rules in place regarding eligibility.
Firstly none of the fighters here can have won a world title at any point during their careers, that means not only in the relevant decade, but at all. To be considered for any decade a fighter might have either fought during 5 years of the relevant decade, just that decade, or more than half of their career in that decade. As a result of those rules we will also only be considering their records for that decade, which will be mentioned alongside their career records where necessary.
Also just for clarity we are only considering Asian fighters for this series.
Where a fighter fights in multiple decades, as long as they fill one of the criteria, they can be considered for multiple decades.
Also please note this isn't a comprehensive list of over-looked fighters from the decade and the list could have been much, much longer than it is.
Jess Maca (Career tally 48-23-6 (18); record during the 00's 11-7-3 (2))
On paper Jess Maca's record for the decade isn't anything to write home about, and his 1990's was a much more productive decade for the "Japanese Killer". The reality however is that he was still very much an under-rated fight in the 2000's, despite only fighting 21 of his 77 career bouts in the decade. He was not only a continual nightmare of an opponent, but also picked up some of best results in a decade where he wasn't his most effective.
Maca entered the decade as the OPBF Bantamweight champion and almost claimed the PABA "interim" Super Bantamweight title as the decade began, fighting to a draw in Thailand with future world champion Yoddamrong Sithyodthong. In late 2000 he continued his run of form in Japan as he defeated future world champion Katsushige Kawashima. In 2001 he then added wins over Masayuki Arinaga and Ryuichi Minoriyama and Hiroaki Murakoshi before being robbed against Masakazuu Sugawara.
In 2003 Maca's run against Japanese fighters, which had began in the 1990's, came to an end when he was beaten by Hozumi Hasegawa and from there his career never really got going again with regular set backs as he went 6-6-1 and suffered both of his career stoppage losses. Whilst that was a bad run he did still pick up a notable win over Makyo Sugita in Japan and went the distance with Terdsak Kokietgym. Sadly though by 2007 he was a lesser fighter than he once was, and retired following a 2007 loss to Alexander Bakhtin. By that point Maca was 35 and he had seen better days.
Jung-Bum Kim (Career tally 32-3-1 (28); record in the 00's 20-2 (18))
Dubbed the "Oriental Express" Jung Bum Kim was an absolute nightmare on the Oriental scene and he showed it through the decade. He had ended the 1990's as the South Korean Light Welterweight champion and despite losing the belt in 2001, to Hwan Young Park, he quickly reclaimed the title, stopping Sung Woon Cha.
In 2004 Kim moved up in levels and claimed the OPBF title Masakazu Satake in 2 rounds to claim the belt. Sadly following that bout he lost in his US debut, to Arturo Morua, but returned back to Asia and made 5 defenses of the OPBF title, all by stoppage. In fact after losing to Morua we saw Kim go 9-0 (9).
Sadly Kim's competition, for much of the decade, was lacking, but watching him in action it's clear he deserved some better dancer partners. Sadly the era was a bad one at 140lbs for Asian fighters. Wins over Satake and Sataporn Singwancha were as good as things got for him. He could have done more, but was still a total nightmare in a division that was sadly void of regional contenders at the time.
Choi Tseveenpurev (Career tally 36-7-1 (24); record in the 00's 22-2 (14))
British based Mongolian Choi Tseveenpurev had a bizarre decade that could, and probably should, have resulted in a lot more attention than it. He was rough, tough, heavy handed and exciting but sadly spent much of the decade going up against over-matched opposition who really shouldn't have been in the ring with him.
Choi won his first 3 bouts of the decade before losing a decision to Willie Limond in Scotland. Following the loss Choi reeled off 9 straight wins, but they were hard to get too excited about, other than a win over the previously unbeaten Livinson Ruiz. That winning run came to an end in 2004 when he lost a razor thin decision to Lehlo Ledwaba, who had been the IBF Super Bantamweight champion just a few fights earlier. That loss showed that Choi was a good fighter and thankfully acted as a turning point, helping him face better opponents.
Following the Ledwaba bout we saw Choi go 10-0 (8) for the decade and have his most notable wins. They included a decision over the then 9-0 Kevin O'Hara, a KO against the then 13-0 Nikoloz Berkatsashvili, a decision over the then 10-0 Abdul Tebazalwa and a massive KO over the then 20-0 Derry Matthews.
Although not a world beater Choi was a massive danger man, with an iron chin, rock fists and the ability to beat better competition than he faced. A reach shame he didn't get the opportunities his talented deserved more frequently though the decade.
Z Gorres (31-2-2, 17)
The tragedy of Z Gorres is something that every fan from the decade will likely know all too well. Gorres was one a trio of talented Filipino fighters making waves under the ALA banner, alongside Rey Bautista and AJ Banal. Unlike Bautista and Banal however Gorres wasn't a puncher, but was a fantastic boxer with brilliant balance, and boxing IQ. Of the trio Gorres was the most talented and the best boxer, by quit some margin.
After a rather busy start to his professional career, which began in 2000, Gorres would sadly see his unbeaten start come to an end in the summer of 2003, when he was stopped by fellow Filipino Edgar Rodrigo. The loss to Rodrigo was followed by Gorres moving up in weight and scoring noteworthy wins over Sairung Singwancha, Wisanu Kokietgym Glenn Donaire. These led to him getting a world title fight with Fernando Montiel in 2007, and losing a razor thin split decision to the Mexican.
Despite losing to Montiel that wasn't the end for Gorres who would bounce back with a win over Eric Ortiz, a controversial draw with Vic Darchinyan, and noteworthy wins against Cruz Carbajal and Luis Melendez. Sadly however Gorres career came to an end following a brain injury he suffered against Melendez. He was only 27 at the time.
In another timeline Z Gorres was a world champion, sadly however in this one he is one of the unluckiest fighters out there and his career really was ended too soon. He seemed on the verge of a second world title fight, and had been genuinely impressive. A real talent, and one of those sad tales of what could have been. Thankfully Gorres has recovered from his injury enough to enjoy life, but sadly more than a decade later he remains one of the big "what if..." stories of Filipino boxing.
Almazbek Raiymkulov (27-2-1, 15)
There was a time when "Kid Diamond" Almazbek Raiymkulov was looking like he was going to go far in the sport. He was exciting, aggressive and the rare type of fighter that had US TV backing him for a good while, despite being completely unable to pronounce his name. Sadly Raiymkulov failed to reach the heights expected of him, but that's now seen him become rather under-rated now a days.
Raiymkulov began his career in 2001 and won his first 20 bouts before fighting to a draw with Joel Casamayor, a result that looks brilliant on reflection. That draw had followed stoppage wins over the likes of the then 10-0 Ray Narh, Jose Luis Soto Karass and the then 17-0 Koba Gogoladze. Sadly the draw with Casamayor was followed by a loss to Nate Campbell. He would bounce back with wins against the likes of Emanuel Augustus, Miguel Angel Huerta and Javier Jauregui.
Sadly Raiymkulov would end his career after a stoppage loss to Antonio DeMarco. He had failed to reach the heights some had expected for him, but in reality he had a really solid resume and certainly shouldn't be as forgotten as he is now. Not a world champion, but very much a fighter who had a number of solid wins.
Yuki Murai (Career tally 21-18-5 (7)); record during the 00's 13-13-3 (4))
This series has been built around lots of fighters with misleading records, and Yuki Murai is another great example of a misleading record. During the 00's he won less than half of his career bouts, but he faced a who's who, and proved himself as a genuine tough nut giving world class opponents very real tests. From his 12 losses during the decade not a single fighter managed to stop him and instead he was seen a genuine banana skin. A tough, rugged banana skin.
Murai entered the decade with a 2-1-1 record and would fight a number of lower level bouts at the start of the decade, suffering a couple of low key losses along the way. As he began to step up his level of competition however he began to prove himself as an awkward fighter. He managed to push Chatchai Sasakul, Somsak Sithchatchawal, Sompoch Harnvichachai and Teiru Kinoshita, with Kinoshita and Sompoch both being taken right down to the wire.
Although Murai failed to secure any wins of real note in the 00's he managed to give much better fighters, much tougher tests than he had any right to. He was so tough and such a nightmare than no one who got in the ring with him had an easy time and he was being brought over to face title level fighters to help toughen them up test them.
Murai's career was never going to be that of a world champion but he made a career out of being a headache. He was the perfect "journeyman" and managed to give a legitimate effort every time he stepped in the ring.
Vitaliy Demyanenko (Career tally 22-0 (12); record in the 00's 17-0 (11))
In recent years we've seen a lot of notable Kazakh fighters making their mark on the sport. One man who often falls between the cracks in Kazakh boxing history is Vitaliy Demyanenko, who fought much of his career in the 00's and seemed like he was a man close to banging on the door for a big fight, but never landed it.
Demyanenko made his debut in 2005 and reeled off a bunch of low key wins in Kazakhstan before stepping up and beating the likes of Esteban de Jesus Morales, Kiatchai Singwancha, Arnel Tinampay, Anderson Clayton, and even moved over to the US to score a couple of wins before the decade was over.
Whilst Demyanenko is certainly not a "lost Golovkin" his career really could have ended better than it did. His win over Arnel Tinampay showed what he could do, with Demyanenko being one of the few to actually take a clean win over the tough Filipino. He probably deserved a top tier fight before hanging them up, but is instead someone who saw their career fritter away in the early 2010's. A real shame, but also a solid fighter who helped prove their was some capable fighters in Kazakhstan, along with the top, top names.
Norio Kimura (Career tally 35-7-2 (19); record during the 00's 25-4-1 (16))
It's fair to say that Norio Kimura is not a name that will stand out to many, and in fairness it probably shouldn't. He entered the decade 12-3-1 (3) and had won just 1 of his 4 towards the end of the 1990's. He then actually lost his first bout of the 00's. And then he went on a bit of a tear with some notable results and a good climb through the rankings that eventually resulted in a world title fight.
Kimura's most notable results during the decade included a technical draw with Tadashi Yuba, as well as wins over Junichi Ono, Shingo Eguchi, Motoki Sasaki, Shinya Nagase, and Kenryo Matsumoto. He essentially dominated the Japanese domestic scene at 140lbs during the decade, running up an impressive 13 title defenses over a 5 year reign.
Sadly Kimura's career is probably best known internationally for his 2008 loss to Andriy Kotelnik, but the reality is that Kotelnik was never an easy out for anyone and that loss shouldn't over-shadow the fact Kimura was a 2-weight Japanese national champion. The loss to Kotelnik stands out, but his achievements regularly get over-looked.
Nobuhito Honmo (Career tally 29-5-2 (5); record during the 00's 16-2-1 (2))
One of the most criminally under-rated Japanese fighters in recent years was the tough and talented Nobuhito Honmo, who is well known internationally for facing Edwin Valero, but did so much more during career. In fact not did he give Valero one of his toughest bouts but he also recorded a good number of solid wins during the decade.
Honmo had started his career in the 1990's and gone 13-3-1 before we entered the 00's. He hadn't scored any wins of note, and didn't really enter with any real momentum. What little momentum, he did have was pretty much squashed immediately when he lost on his US debut against Amador Vasquez. Following that loss however Honmo went on a 17 fight unbeaten run which included noteworthy wins over Eiichi Sugama, Kinji Amano, to win the Japanese Super Featherweight title, Hidekazu Matsunobu, Koji Arisawa, Tsuyoshi Nakamura, Keita Manabe and Jimrex Jaca, with that win netting Honmo the OPBF title Super Featherweight title.
Sadly for Honmo he would end the decade with a loss, losing in 8 rounds to the then WBA Super Featherweight champion Edwin Valero, becoming only the third man to last more than a round with Valero.
Having book ended the decade with losses Honmo's success in the decade was really credible going 16-0-1 between his defeats. To add in the fact he was a total non puncher makes it even more impressive. He got where he got on skills, durability and ring craft. He was a very smart boxer with a sharp jab and with 8 defenses of the Japanese title he was very much a success story of the decade. Despite the loss to Valero.
Trash Nakanuma (Career tally 27-6 (12); record in the 00's 13-4 (8))
One man who certainly didn't live up to his name was Trash Nakanuma, he certainly wasn't trash. In fact he was one of the more notably Flyweight contenders of the decade and a nightmare to fight. He was physically strong, had a good work rate, incredibly tough and had under-rated power. Those were all tools he showed off against some top fighters during the 00's, before retiring in 2006.
In 2000 Nakanuma recorded 3 wins before upsetting Panieng Poontarat in 2001 to put himself on the map. In 2002 he scored one of the biggest wins of his career, beating Takefumi Sakata in a brilliant bout to claim the Japanese Flyweight title. He would lose the title to Sakata a year later after defending the belt twice. The loss to Sakata was then followed by a razor thin loss to Noriyuki Komatsu and then a very competitive loss to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Nakanuma would avenge the loss to Komatsu in 2004 but lost in a second world title fight, to Lorenzo Parra. That was the start of the end for Nakanuma who fought in a couple of low key bouts to end his career.
Although not a world beater the fact Nakanuma pushed both Wonjongkam and Parra close in world title bouts showed he belonged at that level. He held Japanese and OPBF honours and was a very tough man to beat. Yes he lost 4 bouts during the decade but absolutely nobody had an easy time with Nakanuma. He was a real nightmare to fight and deserves more than to be remembered for just his fighting name.
We've looked at the 1960's, 70's and 80's and now we look at the 1990's as we continue to look at some under-rated fighters. The 1990's was an interesting decade, as the IBF and WBO world titles gave fighters more options than ever, but again we're only considering fighters who never won world titles.
This week we have fighters from South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Japan as we look at some of those fighters that are over-looked, having misleading records and are better than people realise!
To be considered for any decade a fighter might have either fought during 5 years of the relevant decade, just that decade, more than half of their career in that decade, or had most of their most notable bouts during that decade. As a result of those rules we will also only be considering their records for that decade.
Also just for clarity we are only considering Asian fighters for this series.
Where a fighter fights in multiple decades, they can be considered for multiple decades.
Also please note this isn't a comprehensive list of over-looked fighters from the decade and the list could have been much, much longer than it is and we may do a second volume in the future.
Jung Oh Park (Career tally 27-4-3 (20); record during the 1990's 13-2-2 (11))
Fans who have followed the sport since the 1990's will likely recognise the name Jung Oh Park. In 1995 he suffered a 4th round TKO loss to Ike Quartey in a WBA Welterweight title bout. That was a whooping for Park and sent him into retirement. Sadly that's pretty much the only bout Western fans will know him for, and the other 16 bouts he had during the decade won't get a second thought.
For us however Park needs to be measured on what he did do, which was dominate the Asian Welterweight scene through much of the 1990's.
Park was the Korean national champion and sported a 14-2-1 (9) record when we headed into the 90's. By the end of 1990 he had added the OPBF title, stopping Yong Bae Cho. From there he would make 13 successful defenses, including successful defenses against Jintoku Sato, who dominated the Japanese national scene, and Hiroyuki Yoshino. Not only did he have a lengthy run with the OPBF title but he was also thrilling to watch, with an exciting, aggressive style that really made some of his bouts brutal to watch.
Sadly by the time Park fought Quartey he had shown some serious signs of decline and had failed to win either of his 2 previous bouts. He was only 27 going into the Quartey bout but was an old 27 and had absolutely no answer to Quartey's jab. The gulf between Oriental level and world level was huge, but at Oriental level Park was king for the first half of the 1990's.
Jong Kil Kim (Career tally 22-12-4 (14); record during the 1990's 14-6 (8))
The career of Jong Kil Kim is a genuine oddity, with a record that is baffling. He entered the 1990's with a record of 7-5-4 (6), with his final bout coming into the decade coming in December 1988. Not only that but his final 5 bouts of the 1980's had seen him go 0-2-3. It took until 1993 for him to re-appear in the sport but by the end of the decade he certainly made a mark, despite only adding 20 bouts to his record during the decade.
Between January 1993, when Kim returned to the ring, and the end of February 1995 he had gone 3-4 for the decade, with losses to Jong Hoon Yuh and Hiroyuki Sakamoto. Despite that poor start to the decade he would then go 12-2 with noteworthy wins over Jung Bum Kim, Jong Jong Pacquing, Jong Hoon Yuh and Hisao Arai. Not only did he score those 4 good wins but he also became a 2-time Korean Light Welterweight champion and the OPBF champion, losing the belt just days before the decade was over.
Interestingly 3 of Kim's 6 losses for the decade came against Jong Hoon Yuh, with him beating Yuh in their 4th meeting.
Despite having so many losses Yuh was a tough nut, he was never stopped, was in with some serious punchers and managed to have many of his best results the wrong side of 30. He was never a world beater, but he was a lot better than his record suggests, and his win over Pacquing was a brutal war for those interested in something to watch!
Faisol Akbar (Career tally 16-6-3 (3); record during the 1990's 14-5-2 (3))
We're going to preface this by stating that we don't think many Indonesian fighters have complete complete records. We think a lot of Indonesian fights are missing. With that said we can only go what boxrec report, unless another source is more complete, and we find it hard to not include Faisol Akbar based on his 19 recorded bouts for the decade.
Akbar's first recorded bout came in 1990, in fact his first 3 recorded bouts came in 1990, before he seemingly went off the radar. By 1993 he had apparently amassed a 16-3 (3) record when he fought to a draw with Korean Oh Kon Kim for the first time. The two would rematch later that year with Kim taking the win and the OPBF title.
Around 11 months after losing to Kim, Akbar resurfaced and fought to a split decision loss to Ronnie Magramo. Just a month later he recorded the first of two wins over future world champion Muhammad Rachman. In 1997 Akbar added another major win to his record as he beat Wandee Singwancha, to claim the IBF Inter-Continental Minimumweight title. That win lead to a 1998 show down with Zolani Petelo for the IBF world title, with Akbar losing a very close split decision in South Africa to the champion.
Whilst it's hard to know exactly what Akbar's record should be it's fair to say that wins over Rachman, twice and Wandee as well as a split decision loss to Petelo show his quality and he is very much an under-rated fighter. Reality is that he probably has twice as many fights unrecorded as his boxrec numbers suggest, and he clearly had a lot more talent than the numbers we have suggest.
Rey Paciones (Career tally 39-8-3 (11); record in the 1990's 14-5 (5))
We're bending the rules slightly here for Filipino Rey Paciones, who only fought until 1993, but what he did in those 3 years sees him included on the basis that his biggest fights came in the 1990's. It was a decade in which he lost more 25% of the bouts he was in, suffered 1 of his 2 career losses, but was an absolute nightmare to go up against. He could nick an upset when opponents over-looked him and could test real top quality fighters.
In 1990 Paciones went 5-0, including an upset win over Tacy Macalos, the following year he went the distance with Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, Yong Hoon Lee and Yasuei Yakushiji. In 1992 he picked up a notable win over Rolando Bohol and took Jung Il Byun the distance, not long before Byun won WBC Bantamweight title. Sadly though his career came to it's end in early 1993 when he was stopped, in the 12th round, by Rolando Pascua.
Few fans will remember Paciones, but his opponents will remember the tough Filipino fighter who really was a gatekeeper in the early part of the decade. From his 19 bouts in the decade he lost to 3 future world champions, one former world champion and beat beat 2 former world champions. A very notable and under-rated fighter from the early part of the 1990's.
Jess Maca (Career tally 48-23-6 (18); record during the 1990's 37-16-3 (16))
Filipino fighter Jess Maca is not a fighter with a record that would suggesting anything too exciting. This series however loves fighters like this, as Maca's record is so misleading it doesn't even tell a quarter of the story about the "Japanese Killer" who fought from 1990 to 2007.
Maca began his career without doing too much of note but did was incredibly busy in the early part of the decade and had 23 fights to his name by the end of 1992. They had included a decision loss to future Flyweight world champion Chatchai Sasakul and going 1-1 with Nolito Cabato. As the decade went on he began to rack up bouts against more and more notable fighters, losing decisions to Saen Sor Ploenchit, Gerry Penalosa and In Jin Chi in 1993. A loss to Daorung Chuwatana in 1994 was another decision against the tough Maca, who went the distance with Chi again in 1995 and Daorung in 1996. He would twice see the final bell against Samson Dutch Boy Gym and also against Veeraphpl Sahaphom.
Of course going the distance with world class fighters was only part of Maca's 1990's. In 1997 he beat the then 11-0-1 Masahiko Nakamura in Japan, returning to the Land of the Rising Sun to do the double over Nakamura in 1998, to claim the OPBF Bantamweight title. With the OPBF title around his waist he went on a run of victories in Japan against Setsuo Segawa, Shigeru Nakazato, Shin Yamato and Taiji Okamoto. By the end of the decade he was riding a 9 fight unbeaten run into the new millennium.
Yes Maca was no world beater, but he was a tricky out for anyone, and in fact it took until 2003 for him to lose the OPBF title, losing it to Hozumi Hasegawa. He was a nightmare and a genuinely over-looked fighter.
Dan Nietes (Career tally 27-10-1 (17); record during the 1990's 24-10-1 (16))
Donnie Neites is a Filipino legend and one of the top Filipino names of recent years. Along with Nonito Donaire and Manny Pacquiao, he has been one of the faces of Filipino boxing. Donnie's uncle, Dan Nietes, on the other hand is an often over-looked fighter who only ever managed to win a GAB title during his career. Despite the lack of wider success he was criminally under-rated between 1989, when he began his career, and 1995, when he had his final bout.
Nietes entered the decade with a 3-0 record and would compete in 35 bouts during the 1990's. These included decision losses to Pichit Sithbanprachan, in which he dropped the then 14-0 Pichit who had recently won the IBF Flyweight title, Saen Sor Ploenchit, and a split decision loss to Samson Dutch Boy Gym.
He's not as notable as Paciones and Maca, not by any stretch, but with losses in 10 of his 35 bouts it's worth considering who he fought, and tough tests he gave guys like Pichit and Saen Sor. Sadly he lacks in terms of notable wins, but was certainly not an easy out in the early to mid 1990's.
Thanomsak Sithbaobay (Career tally 56-6 (33); record during the 1990's 29-5 (20))
Coming through the Super Flyweight scene at the same time that Khaosai Galaxy was dominating the picture Thanomsak Sithbaobay was expected to be the heir apparently for the Thai's. Sadly however Thanomsak failed to win a world title, due in part to some questionable scoring and a real lack of good fortune.
Thanomsak headed into the 1990's with a 27-1 (13) record, with his only loss coming in by split decision to Kenji Matsumura in 1987. He had momentum coming into the decade and a feared reputation. Sadly though he would suffer his second professional loss before the end of 1990 as he lost a close decision at Bantamweight to Luisito Espinosa. He bounced back from that defeat and got a shot at his more natural weight, Super Flyweight. He travelled to Japan for that bout and lost a very controversial decision to the hugely Katsuya Oniuka, in a contest for the WBA Super Flyweight title that Galaxy had previously held. Many, including some in Japan, felt the Thai had been robbed and in 1993 he got another bout with Galaxy. Again he was denied with some questionable scorecards in favour of the Japanese star.
Following Thanomsak's second loss to Onizuka he reeled off 12 straight wins, including a TKO win over Rolando Pascua, before being stopped by future world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha. The bout ruined Thanomsak who wouldn't fight for 2 years, then returned in 1998 and was stopped by Tetsutora Senrima in 1998.
Although perhaps not quite as good as some once though Thanomsak was incredibly unfortunate in both of the bouts against Onizuka and really should have been a champion. Whilst he did get 3 title shots, and was fairly beaten in the first, 2 of them could easily have gone his way. A genuinely unfortunate fighter who deserves to be remembered much more than he is.
Yamato Mitani (12-4, 9)
It's fair to say that Yamato Mitani may be the toughest guy on this list, even if he wasn't the best. The Japanese Super Featherweight fought from 1993 to 1998 and despite suffering 4 losses in 16 bouts has one of the many misleading records we see when looking at under-rated fighters. He was a former Japanese champion, 2-time OPBF champion and was only ever beaten by 2 men, more about that in a few moments.
Mitani had turned professional after going 91-13 in the amateurs. The expectancy was huge for him, and he had signed a monster contract when he turned professional with Misako boxing gym, who had made sure his fights were going to be shown on Fuji TV. Not only did he had a TV deal early on and a notable Japanese promoter but was also matched up with former world champion Tadashi Mihara. Everything seemed to be behind Mitani being a star.
Unfortunately for Mitani he found a true nemesis and lost his 5th bout to future world champion champion Yong Soo Choi. He also lost his 9th and 11th bout, both of which were WBA Super Featherweight bouts and both were razor thin decisions to Yong Soo Choi. Within 11 bouts Mitani was 8-3 (7) and had lost a trio of bouts to one of the toughest and roughest fighters of his era. Whilst they were certainly setbacks he certainly achieved a decent amount to. He won the Japanese Super Featherweight title, beating Toshikazu Suzuki, stopped Noree Jockygym for the OPBF Bantamweight title and would later stop Joselito Rivera to reclaim the OPBF title. As well as his 2 OPBF title reigns he also score a notable win over Nobutoshi Hiranaka before losing his final bout to Kengo Nagashima, the second man to beat him.
On face value a 12-4 record doesn't look great, but losing 3 razor close fights to Yong Soo Choi really does put into some perspective that he was a lot better than his record indicates. He was rough, tough, heavy handed, and very fun to watch.
Hitoshi Kamiyama (Career tally 32-2-1 (20); record during the 1990's 19-1 (13))
We suspect some fans may recognise Hitoshi Kamiyama's name, and will be aware that he fought for the WBA Light Middleweight title in 1992, when he lost to Julio Cesar Vasquez in Argentina. That is probably the most some fans know about Kamiyama, but he ruled the Japanese scene with an iron fist. Despite not being world class.
Kamiyama had entered the decade with a 13-1-1 (7) record and the Japanese Light Middleweight champion. When he retired in 1995 he had avenged the one domestic loss, and draw, that he had had from the 1980's and had kept a hold of the Japanese title. In fact he had scored 17 defenses of the Japanese title during the 1990's. That alone would still be a Japanese for the weight class, and that was in just over 5 years of the decade.
Whilt the names Kamiyama beat aren't well known internationally they included Pat Lawlor, probably the most famous, Hiroyuki Yoshino, who had marked up Kamiyama's record in the 1980's with the draw and loss, and Akira Ohigashi, who would later win the title and run up 10 defenses of his own.
Whilst Kamiyama never made a mark at world level he simply dominated domestically to the point where the title was around his waist from January 1989 to his retirement in 1995. Yes he lost his biggest bout, quickly, but he ruled the roost at home
Hiroyuki Sakamoto (Career tally 39-7-1 (29); record in the 1990's 34-3 (25))
One of boxing's true "hard luck" stories is Hiroyuki Sakamoto. Sakamoto was neglected as a child, went into foster care and in recent years has become one of the real good guys of sport, helping kids in the position he was once in. His most notable bouts did come in the 2000's, including losses to Gilberto Serrano and Takanori Hatakeyama, but his work in the 1990's certainly made up the bulk of his career, with 37 of his 47 pro bouts taking place in the 90's.
Sakamoto debuted in 1991, won the Rookie of the Year in 1992, won the Japanese Lightweight in 1993 with a win over Rick Yoshimura, and was unbeaten until 1995, when he was out pointed by Juan Martin Coggi. He rebounded quickly and would defeat Jeff Mayweather just 6 months after losing to Coggi, with the win over Mayweather coming in what was Sakamoto's sole US bout. Sakamoto would add to accolades in 1996, when he won the OPBF Lightweight title
Sadly for Sakamoto he would go on to lose in would title bouts in 1997, to Stevie Johnston, and 1998, to Cesar Bazan losing both bouts by decision.
Despite losing his two biggest bouts of the decade Sakamoto did score noteworthy wins against Rick Yoshimura, Hiromu Kuwata, Jeff Mayweather, Roger Borreros, and Prawet Singwancha before the decade came to a close. Sadly an over-looked fighter, with great will power, heavy hands, a steely determination and a great story.
Sakamoto is someone who under-rated in the 1990's but has used boxing to be a platform for bigger things, and deserves, rightfully, to be included in any list of boxing good guy's, as well as this list of under-rated fighters from the 1990's.
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