For today's Closet Classic we delve deep and go back to the summer of 1974 for an often forgotten classic that had a bit of everything. The bout swung one way, then the other, then back and again. It's old school excitement at it's best and comes from a division we don't talk about much, the Light Middleweight division.
Koichi Wajima (29-2-1, 24) vs Oscar Albarado (48-6-1, 35) I
In 1971 Koichi Wajima defeated Carmelo Bossi for the WBA and WBC Light Middleweight titles. He had defended the belts 6 times against an interesting mix of opponents, including veteran Domenico Tiberia, the then unbeaten Miguel de Oliveira, and the often over-looked Ryu Sorimachi. Although not the best boxer on the planet Wajima had proven he could box, he could punch, and he could turn things around when he needed to. He was also a hard man to predict and read, with some very unorthodox offense, including a leaping shot dubbed described as being a "frog jump". Aged 31 by the time we got to this fight Wajima had been in some tough contests and had clearly taken some big punishment in some of his earlier bouts.
In the opposite corner to the Japanese fighter was big punching Texan Oscar Albarado, who was dubbed "Shotgun". Albarado was getting his first world title fight, and his first bout in Asia. Despite this being a step up for him he had been very experienced with 55 fights to his and 35 knockouts. He wasn't a KO artist as such, but was very heavy handed, and what he hit he hurt. At 25 years old it was felt that Albarado was coming into this physical prime, but there was still questions as to whether he had he experience, toughness and stamina to last in a 15 round fight in Japanese conditions, with 10,000 fans cheering on the local champion.
The fight started excitingly, but it seemed like Albarado was getting the better of the early going, though Wajima did have his moments. It seemed that Albarado's heavy jab was a major problem for Wajima at range, but Wajima would begin to pressure more and had real success up close.
As the rounds went on Wajima's success began to grow, but it was clear he felt he had to do more, and his work really did take a toll on him with Albarado took shots cleanly without showing too much damage.
Through the middle rounds the bout had become a real hard man's fight. Both men had landed some serious leather, but there was more come and neither man looked like they were going to quit, despite Wajima losing his balance a few times, though Albarado was never quick enough to catch him off balance.
We don't really want to ruin the drama in this one, as some of the later round action is breath taking, but it's one that every fight fan should enjoy. The two men both took some hellacious damage and neither man would ever be the same afterwards.
Despite the massive amount of damage the two men did to each other in this war they actually had a rematch around 9 months later, and just like this bout, both took significant punishment. After that rematch both men picked up a number of stoppage losses. These wares between the two punish, thrilling, exciting, crazy and looked like scenes from a movie.
This isn't the prettiest bout, or the most technical, but it's beautiful in it's brutality and the carnage is chaotic at times.
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