When the referee loses control of a bout it's fair to say that some genuinely weird things can happen. Rarely however, does a referee lose control in the opening few minutes. Today we look at a bout that probably should have seen a referee step in much, much earlier, read both men the riot act and tell them both that any money business and he'd throw them out. Instead we a got a KO from a foul, followed by a mini riot and eventually the bout being ruled a No Contest. This was wild, wacky and really didn't belong in a boxing ring in 2009.
Kenichi Yamaguchi (15-1-2, 4) Vs Billy Dib (22-1, 11)
Billy "The Kid" Dib was one of the big Australian names of the 00's and 10's. He was a talented Featherweight come Super Featherweight but one of those fighters who was rather lucky that he came through in the 4-title era. Up to this point in his career he had gone 22-1 with his only loss coming in a WBO world title fight against Steve Luevano, in what was a fairly competitive contest. Just 9 months after that bout he took on Japan's Kenichi Yamaguchi.
Before we speak about Yamaguchi we probably look over what became of Dib's career after this 2009 bout. In 2011 he became the IBF Featherweight champion, beating Jorge Lacierva for the vacant title, he would make 3 defenses before losing the belt in 2013 to Evgeny Gradovich. After that he remained in, and around, the title mix until around 2018. In that time he lost in world title fights to Gradovich in a rematch, Takashi Miura and Tevin Farmer.
As for Yamaguchi he really isn't a notable fighter at all. He had began his career with a draw and was 4-1-1 before going on a 12 fight unbeaten run leading into his bout with Dib. Whilst he was going through a good run on paper he had been pretty lucky to have picked up victories in his previous two bouts and really wasn't a stand out fighter at all. If we're being honest his best win came in 2011, when he travelled to the Philippines and picked up a win over Mark John Yap.
Although his record might have looked good on paper Yamaguchi was chosen to lose to Dib, who was looking to secure a second win following the loss to Luevano. He was to lose, and make Dib look good. Instead what we got was chaos, and some terrible refereeing from referee Les Fear, who really didn't help things, at all.
From the opening bell Yamaguchi raced at Dib and within 20 seconds we had seen Dib put Yamaguchi in a headlock. Yamaguchi managed to land a wild looping left hook soon afterwards before Dib slipped to the canvas. Dib was the dropped, with the knock down being counted, despite the punch that sent Dib down coming behind the head. Dib never complained and the fight resumed after the mandatory 8 count.
Although Yamaguchi's work was wild and untidy, it was strangely effective and and was giving Dib fits. Dib, smartly, held on when Yamaguchi was close but that didn't help tidy up the action. In fact it lead to some even messier action, with Yamaguchi lifting up Dib at one point. By that Dib had had enough and finally let his hands go, dropping Yamaguchi.
Then he paused for a second.
Then he swung again, hitting the down and defenseless visitor. It was a clear, flagrant foul. He really left the referee with no option. It had to be seen as a deliberate foul right? Well...no...not to Les Fear who guided Dib to a neutral corner and counted the knockdown. Yamaguchi was stumbling all over the place from the foul, and the referee waved the bout off, giving Dib the win.
Then we got some ugly scenes with Yamaguchi pushing the referee, who had clearly screwed him out of a DQ win, then Dib pushed Yamaguchi and the ring just became a sea of chaos. The chaos and anger from the two teams kept growing, despite Yamaguchi being shuffled out of the ring.
Dib was then announced the winner, and the new WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion.
Yamaguchi's team then appealed to the WBO who turned the bout into a No Contest the following month. Thankfully some common sense did prevail over the bout, but that didn't excuse the chaos and controversy that we saw in the ring on July 9th 2009.
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