In recent year's we've seen a fair bit of attention given to boxing in Nagoya thanks to the rapid rise of Kosei Tanaka and the second generation prospect Kento Hatanaka. It hasn't always had successful fighters though, and it's a region that has sadly lacked in terms of world champions. Despite the lack of world level success a number of the region's fighters have been incredibly fun to watch and exciting. Today we look at a fight that took place in Nagoya and was exciting, competitive and dramatic!
Kozo Ishii (21-1, 14) Vs Nestor Garza (37-1, 29)
Aged 22 Ishii was the rising star of Nagoya, his only loss had come in 1996 and he had reeled off 14 straight wins afterwards, with 11 of those coming inside the distance. That winning run had seen Ishii claim the OPBF Super Bantamweight title and score a number of solid regional level wins, such as a victory over former world title contender Jang Kyun Oh. Nagoya had it's support all behind him, and although he was a little unpolished around the edge he was their hope and one of the regions brightest talents since Kiyoshi Hatanaka who had claimed the WBC Super Bantamweight title in 1991.
Mexican fighter Nestor Garza was all 22 and "El Tigre" had been the champion for almost a year coming into this bout. He had won the belt in the US in December 1998 and had racked up a single defense in May, when he stopped Carlos Barreto. Although not well remembered Garza was a solid fighter who who's only loss had come in April 1997 when he was surprisingly upset by Angel Rosario, a loss that he had put behind him with 10 wins coming into this bout with Garza. Included in that winning run were his title win, and his defense against Barreto, but also wins over former world title challenger Freddy Cruz and Jesus Sarabia, as well as future champion Cruz Carbajal.
The fight started slightly quicker than we're used to with first rounds, and although it wasn't all out war from the off it definitely felt like both men had began in second gear, with Ishii particularly looking to land big right hands. Garza, to his credit, managed to have plenty of success of his own and it was clear that both men were to fight. As the rounds went on the action built, becoming more intense, with more big shots being thrown by both. By the middle rounds both fighters were trading shots frequently, with hard and heavy leather being exchanged, and both were landing clean. Chins were being tested, and how they were standing up at times was a mystery.
In the later stages both men were looking banged up, but they kept in their launching bombs in an attempt to take the fight out of the judges hand. This was guts, this was will and this was incredible!
The bout went on to win the 1999 Japanese fight of the year, and is well and truly worth a watch. It is one of the forgotten wars of 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