This week we are delving deep into the closet to share a Closet Classic from 1987. Not only is this fight well over 30 years old, but it's also pretty obscure one and one that we suspect those who live outside of Japan probably haven't seen. Though they should! It's fun, it's short, explosive and exciting, with both men being hurt. It's not the highest level bout we'll ever share, but it one of the true hidden classics that the 1980's gave us.
Kengo Fukuda (7-1, 6) vs Tomio Shibata (1-2, 1)
In one corner was Kengo Fukuda, a youngster who quickly had star appeal. He had began his professional career at the age of 17 and instantly connected with fans, being dubbed the "Idol Boxer" at a young age. He had began his career with 6 straight TKO/KO wins, with the first 5 coming in the opening round. His style had excited the Japanese boxing fans and his looks drew in a female fanbase. Sadly he lost in his 7th professional bout, but quickly bounced back with his 7th win at the end of 1986.
In February 1987, just months after his professional loss, he took on Tomio Shibata.
Shibata was a bit of an unknown and his 1-2 (1) record on BoxRec appears to be incomplete incomplete, with the onscreen graphic listing him as 4-3 (2). We suspect the more than 2 year gap in his BoxRec record saw him fighting the additional 4 bouts, though what we do know is his his bouts rarely went the distance. His 3 recorded bouts on boxrec were all concluded early and at least 1 of his other 4 also ended inside the schedule. So he seems, at least on paper, like a stop or be stopped, type of fighter and we can assume he had a suspect chin.
At the end of the day hoever neither man's record could possible have predicted that two men deliver a drama laden shoot out.
From the very opening moments Shibata was on the offensive and ended up on the canvas, just 12 seconds into the bout, slipping face first whilst in pursuit of Fukuda. Shibata got back up, dusted himself off and continued to pursue Fukuda, throwing wild, wide bombs and dragging Fukuda into a war. After just over a minute Shibata was down. Fukuda then tried to finish off the raw but aggressive Shibata who quickly struck back, dropping Fukuda around 30 seconds later.
With both men down it would have made sense for both to have found some respect for their opponent, but that didn't happen and instead Shibata continued trying to bomb out his man and Fukuda kept responding whilst looking for some big bombs of his own.
It wasn't a pretty first round, but it was an entertaining, wild round full of excitement.
The aggression and wild power of Shibata continued into round 2 as he again tried to test Fukuda's chin. Despite that aggression we did see a much smarter game plan from Fukuda who boxed and moved, let Shibata hit air, and countered. Despite the change in game plan the bout remained an edge of your seat affair, knowing that a clean shot from either man could send the other down. The clean connects might have been less frequent than in the opening round, but both continued to connect with heavy leather, especially in the later part of the round.
We'll leave the bout here for you to watch without ruining it any more.
For those who like wild action, knockdowns, and a bit of crazy action this is worthy of your time. It's not a cerebral bout, but it is very entertaining and a rather fun low level encounter.
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