A few months ago in this series we looked at a man controversially retaining his title, with a technically decision win that should, probably, have been a technical knockout loss. Today we look at another bout involving the man who won that bout, taking on someone who was flawed and limited, but made for a fantastic contender with his strength and power making up for his technical limitations.
Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) Vs Jose Argumedo (16-3-1, 9)
That man we mentioned a few months ago is Katsunari Takayama, who of course get very lucky when he retained the IBF Minimumweight title with his win over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr by technical decision. Although Takayama deserved to be up on the score-cards, something we don't think anyone would deny, his fight ending cut seemed to come from punches and not an accidental foul. It would have been a harsh way to lose the IBF world title, but sometimes harsh is fair, and a rematch between the two should have been the order of the day. Takayama's face held up fairly well when he returned to the ring to defeat Ryuji Hara 5 months later before he took on Jose Argumedo on the final day of 2015.
Mexican challenger Jose Argumedo was one of those fighters who had done little to deserve a world title shot, if we're being honest, but was someone who looked like he was always going to be a nightmare to fight. He was slow, a bit wild, a bit crude, and often threw shots off balance. But he was stupidly strong, incredibly tough, with solid power. He took a shot well, and was awkward enough to use his physical strength and size in a way that really was a nightmare to come up against. He looked much bigger than Takayama, who was typically the speedier fighter, but one who liked a tear up, a tactic that was likely to be an issue against someone like Argumedo.
The bout started, like so many Takayama bouts this one began with the "Lighting Kid" using his feet, bouncing around range and trying to get his distance. Unlike most of his bouts however he was in there with someone who was happy to have raiding attacks, coming forward and launching shots from weird angles, leading with his head and make things ugly. Around 2 minutes into the round the size of Argumedo seemed to make Takayama realise he shouldn't look to toe to toe too much, but by then the men had already clashed heads once, with another head clash coming soon afterwards.
Whilst it was messy at times it was also packed with intense exchanges and you could feel that, even in the first round, this was going to be a fun fight. Then again it was a Takayama fight, of course it was going to be fun.
The action continued to be a mix of mess up close, intense exchanges, Takayama trying to fight at mid range and Argumedo swinging with little concern of what was coming back at him. At times Argumedo looked crude and wild, sending himself off balance with some of his offense, whilst at other points he was landing really solid shots. Midway through the round Takayama's eye was already a mess. This time the referee made it clear, this was from a clash of heads. The cut was a bad one at such an early point in the fight, with Hiroaki Nakade going to work on it in the corner.
Despite the cut Takayama seemed to have a very good third round, picking his moments better and using his foot work, speed and skill to get in and out. Although Argumedo had his moments, a big one about 2 minutes into the round, it seemed a much better round for Takayama over the 3 minute duration. Takayama also seemed to have a very good round 4, with Argumedo having moments, but being out worked and out landed. Once again Argumedo's head played a role in the action before Takayama was taken over the doctor for the first inspection of the eye. Later in the round Argumendo seemed to be hurt as Takayama turned it on and it felt like the Mexican was starting to feel the pace and tempo of the champion.
Takayama's success grew. Argumedo. who had looked so strong and tough in the first 2 rounds, was starting to back off and he looked much less effective on the back foot. He was the one wanting space and Takayama refused to let him have it. Argumedo again had moments, but was again out worked, out landed, and was clearly the man who was struggling with the tempo and style of the fight.
To his credit Argumedo got back to what had been working in round 6. Throwing wild shots. They had less sting on them than earlier and were much less consistent than they had been in the early stages of the bout, but were there. What was also there was Takayama's body attack, which continued to slow Argumedo and caught the eye whilst forcing Argumedo on to the back foot once again.
As we went into round 7 it seemed the momentum was with the champion. Yes he was cut, yes he was the smaller man, yes he had taken some very solid shots, but he was out working the challenger, landing the shots, seemingly in control, of the action, making Argumedo look clumsy, landing good counters, and even rocking Argumedo at times. The Mexican looked frustrated, realising his power wasn't going to take out Takayama. He looked like his confidence had been chipped away at, and that he was tiring. Once again he had been wobbled and hurt. Takayama's eye however had worsened. Having fought with it since round 2 that was no surprise, and the left side of his face was becoming a bloody mess as we went into round 8. The cut however wasn't affecting his control and he again seemed to simply have too much for the challenger who was again backed up, out landed, and looked like a man who was really struggling for any consistent success.
Very early in round 9 Takayama's face was again a bloody mess. By now the cuts were beginning to look like they were potentially fight ending. The doctor and referee chatted about them, and it appeared that the bout was about to be stopped. Surprisingly, given how long the discussion was, the bout was allowed to continue. When the bout retsrated Argumedo got even more sloppy. He slipped seconds into the restart, repeatedly over-balanced, and struggled to get much on his shots. Takayama didn't managed much consistent success on the restart, as he took began to look tired, with blood now streaming over both eyes. It seemed he was punching through a mist of blood which was getting worse due to the incidental headclashes.
With Takayama's face a total mess the bout was stopped at the end of round 9 as we went to the score cards. It seemed as it Takayama had done enough to retain his titles. He hadn;t dominated the fight, but had clearly done enough for at at least 5 rounds from the 9 completed. At least that was how it seemed.
The judges however felt otherwise, with two judges scoring scoring 84-87 to Argumedo, whilst the third judge had it 86-85 to Takayama. It was a decision that seemed to surprise Argumedo's team.
Following the bout Takayama accepted defeat, though it seemed a very harsh one. Then again this could also have been boxing karma in play given the nature of his controversial win over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr just 7 months earlier.
Interestingly would return 8 months after this bout to reclaim the WBO title, that he had once vacated, with a technical decision against Riku Kano. Argumedo on the other hand would defend the belt 3 times before returning to Japan and losing it to Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2017.
With all the headclashes, some questionable scoring this is a controversy, though not a total robbery. What it is, however, is a fun, action fight with drama, and it certainly deserves a watch.
To close out the Closet Classic series for 2020 we thought it would be a good idea to feature a bout that took place "on this day", and with New Year's Eve being a big day for boxing in Japan in recent years it left us with a lot of options. We've gone with a bout that isn't one of the more famous New Year Eve bouts, but is very much a Closet Classic. It's a bout that goes over-looked, and often ignored, yet was a real thriller between two exciting little men. Not only was it a thriller but their controversy, excitement and drama.
Katsunari Takayama (30-7-0-1, 12) Vs Jose Argumedo (15-3-1, 9)
Coming in to the bout the always fun to watch Katsunari Takayama was the IBF Minimumweighgt champion, and was hunting his third defense of the title. He was 32 years old and had had a long and successful career winning the WBC, WBO and IBF Minimumweight titles, along with the WBA interim title. Although not the most skilled or the biggest puncher in the sport he was an all action fighter who could box, but almost always ended up in a war and had provided so many Fight of the Year contenders, including a sensational 2014 war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. The reason Takayama was so great to watch was that he let his hands go, a lot, and took risks as he attempted to break down opponents with work rate. He lacked power but made up for that with volume, speed, heart and desire and even in his 30's was still a little energiser bunny full of energy, and able to fight at a very high work rate through the full 12 rounds. Sadly for Takayama the wars he'd been in had taken a toll on his flesh, and he was prone to cuts, which had been a massive issue 2 fights earlier against Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, and caused that bout to be stopped in round 9.
Whilst Takayama was a known quantity at world level, the same couldn't be said of Mexican challenger Jose Argumedo. The 27 year old Mexican had lost on debut, to future WBC champion Oswaldo Novoa, and later lost a rematch to Novoa, but had scored decent wins on the Latino scene with victories against the likes of Saul Juarez, Martin Tecuapetla and Javier Martinez Resendiz. Other than Novoa the only other loss on Argumedo's record was a split decision to Carlos Velarde. Although not too well known he has proven to be a limited, but very strong and tough fighter. He came forward a lot, took a good shot and hit hard for a Minimumweight. Notably this was his first bout outside of Mexico and his first world title bout, in what was a clear step up in class.
The bout started with Takayama trying to use his speed against the slower but visibly bigger Argumedo. Despite being the slower man Argumedo was managing to land plenty of eye catching shots, which had more power on them than Takayama's quicker blows. Within 2 minutes of the first round it was already clear we were going to get a treat to end 2015, and the bout did not disappoint as the action got more and more intense. The only problem was the occasional clash of heads, which were a result of the two men fighting at such an aggressive and exciting pace.
In rounds 2 the action became more and more intense, with both men landing a lot of leather. Despite the two men having very different styles they were both delivering fireworks to end the year, and they were giving us some amazing exchanges. Not only were they both unloading shots but they were both taking them clean as the bout started to go through the gears. Sadly the round also saw Takayama suffer a cut, from a clash of heads. The cut seemed to put a big question mark on "how long" the bout would last, and with that in mind Takayama knew he would have to put his foot on the gas even more.
From there on we ended up getting something truly tremendous, between two men who fought incredibly hard for the title, and gave all they could in a thrilling contest.
We won't ruin what happens here, but this is a tremendous bout, and if you're looking for some fireworks before ringing in 2021, this is a great throw back to 5 years ago, and a bout that if you've not seen before is seriously worth a watch. On the other hand if you already seen it, watch it again, it's a second viewing!
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