With the current lack of live fights we've decided to take on an interesting task of looking for the most under-rated boxers from various decades. We've already looked at the 1960's and now we move on to the 1970's.
Before we start lets just go over the. Firstly none of the fighters here can have won a world title at any point during their careers, that means not only in the relevant decade, but at all. To be considered for any decade a fighter might have either fought during 5 years of the relevant decade, just that decade, more than half of their career in that decade, or had most of their most notable bouts during that decade. As a result of those rules we will also only be considering their records for that decade.
Also just for clarity we are only considering Asian fighters for this series.
Where a fighter fights in multiple decades, as long as they fill one of the criteria, they can be considered for multiple decades.
Also please note this isn't a comprehensive list of over-looked fighters from the decade and the list could have been much, much longer than it is and we may do a second volume in the future.
Chang Kil Lee (26-3-1, 13)
Korean fighter Chang Kil Lee is not a name we expect to see anyone mentioning on any kind of regular basis, but may be they should. His career only spanned from 1970 to 1975 but in that time he squeezed in 30 fights, became a 2-time Oriental champion, fought for a world title and was part of history.
Lee's career began in a 6 rounder and would take the South Korean Light Welterweight title very early in his career. In 1971 be beat Lion Furuyama for the OPBF Light Welterweght title, to begin his first reign. That first reign featured 5 defenses of the title, before he was stripped in 1973. Despite being stripped of the belt he would recapture it the same year, when he beat beating Pedro Adigue Jr. His second reign saw him notch 4 more defenses before losing it in Indonesia to Wongso Suseno, with Suseno becoming the first Indonesian fighter to win an international title. That would end Lee's career and he retired without fighting again.
The loss to Suseno is a notable one, but so to are his other losses, to Ken Buchanan in 1972 and Antonio Cervantes in 1974, in a WBA Light Welterweight world title fight. On the flip side of that are his wins, which included victories over Kazuyoshi Kubokura, Lion Furuyama, Guts Ishimatsu, Hiroshi Shoji, Shoji Tsujimoto, Eagle Sato and Pedro Adigue. That gives him wins over over former and future world champions and a number of domestic champions.
Lee won't go down as a big name from Korea, and sadly his losses in his biggest fights will hang over him, but he was a very good fighter on the regional scene.
Hyun Chi Kim (23-3, 9)
Another very good Korean who had a short career, but a busy one, is Hyun Chi Kim, who fought at Super Featherweight during his career. His entire ran from 1971 to 1975 and like Lee, he made a mark as one of the top regional level fighters, but failed in his biggest bouts.
Kim beat future Japanese national champion Sumio Nobata in his third bout, in 1971, and then again in 1972 to claim the OPBF Super Featherweight title. He would defend the belt 3 times, including notable defenses against former champion Suleman Itti Aanuchit and future champion Apollo Yoshio.
In 1975 Kim got his only world title fight, taking on Ben Villaflor for the WBA title and lost a split decision in the Philippines to the local star. The bout had a toll on him, with Kim being dropped 3 times. After this he never picked up another, losing in 6 rounds to Tyrone Everett in the US, due to cuts, and then a decision in South Africa to the often forgotten Nkosana Mgxaji.
After a trio of losses to end his career Kim retired leaving the sport with on 3 success losses.
Sang Il Jung (9-5-2, 3)
With just 16 bouts to his name Sang Il Jung is a bit of an oddity here, but someone well and truly worth mentioning due to his short, yet stacked career. In just 16 bouts he faced 4 men who won world titles, and two others who challenged for world level belts, and became a 2-time OPBF champion. He also challenged for a world title himself in what was an incredibly intense career.
Less than a year after making his debut Jung won the Korean Light Flyweight title and just months later he became the OPBF champion, beating the then 16-0 Montsayarm Haw Mahachai. In his first defense he defended against future world champion Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, with the men fighting to a draw. Jung lost the title in January 1978 to future world champion Sung Jun Kim, but reclaimed it less than 6 months later when he defeated Kim. That win earned Jung a world title fight, though he was not match for the then WBA Light Flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken.
Following Jung's loss to Gushiken he would defend the OPBF title once, before suffering back to back losses to future world title challenger Yong Hyun Kim.
Although Jung suffered 5 losses in his 16 bouts his career was very intense and notable, yet is probably only really remembered for his loss to Yoko Gushiken. Just knowing him for that is harsh given his 2 regional title reigns and his results against Montsayarm, Netrnoi and Kim.
Kwang Min Kim (Career tally 22-4-1 (7); record during the 1970's 16-1-1 (5))
The final Korean we're looking at for the decade was the talented Kwang Min Kim, who began his career in 1976 and left his mark on the regional scene at Lightweight. During the decade he fought 18 times and scored several note worthy wins in a short but notable career.
In Kim's 7th bout he fought experienced Japanese fighter Mitsuyuki Nakane before taking the South Korean title just weeks later, with a win over Kwang Sun Kim. In his sole defense of the Korean title Kim blew out the previously unbeaten Sang Mo Koo inside a round. The win over Koo was particularly notable as Koo would win the OPBF title at 140lbs the following year. Kim would then look to move towards bigger titles and scored noteworthy wins over world title challengers Rey Tam, Tae Ho Kim and Young Oh Ho.
With a 15-0-1 (6) record Kim would get the biggest fight of his career, taking on WBA Light Welterweight champion Antonio Cervantes. Sadly Cervantes's experience and skills would be too much for the Korean who lost a split decision, which really should have been a unanimous decision in favour of the champion from Colombia. He would bounce back from his first loss by beating fellow former world title challenger Fitzroy Guisseppi.
Whilst it's not relevant here Kim would fight into the early 1980's, winning the OPBF title and scoring wins over Rod Sequanan and Young Ho Oh.
Whilst no match for Cervantes in 1979, few were, Kim had done more than enough to leave his mark on the sport, and is now criminally over-looked, in part due to losing 3 of his last 7 career bouts.
Poot Lorlek (8-0, 3)
Former Muay Thai great Poot Lorlek had a reputation as a brutal head kicker in his natural sport but then transitioned over to western style boxing for a very short boxing career. Between 1975 and 1977 he fought 8 times and quickly proved he didn't need to be able to kick fighters to make a mark.
Whilst Poot's boxing career was short he managed several wins of note, including a decision over future Commonwealth Light Welterweight champion Lawrence Austin and a decision over the then OPBF Lightweight champion Young Ho Oh, in a non-title bout.
It's a shame in many ways that we didn't see Poot stick with the sport as he clearly had talent, and had Muay Thai wins over Seansak Muangsurin, who did make a notable impact on professional boxing.
In the 1960's article we described Kiyoshi Tanabe as one of the great "What if's" and Poor Lorlek certainly belongs in a similar conversation
Fel Clemente (Career tally 13-13-2 (4); record during the 1970's 13-10-2 (4))
On first glance Fel Clemente's record looks out of place here, though like many fighters we featured in the 1960's articles records mean little, it's what a fighter did that is typically the important part of this series and Fel Clemente did an awful lot for a man with such an uninspired looking record.
The Filipino turned professional in 1973 and legitimately faced numerous legends during his career, often giving them surprisingly tough tests and even scoring an upset or two along the way.
Early in his career, reportedly just his second bout, Clemente travelled over to Japan and stopped Zensuke Utagawa to claim the OPBF Featherweight title. He stopped Utagawa in 6 rounds, when just a few fights earlier it had taken the legendary Ruben Olivares 7 rounds. He followed that win up by fighting to a draw in Honolulu with Mexican veteran Octavio Gomez. In 1975 he lost his unbeaten record thanks to a split decision against the then 25-0 Ronnie McGarvey and suffered another split decision to Gerardo Aceves. Those losses would be part of a look run for Clementem who won just 1 of 5 bouts in a 19 month stretch.
Despite the set backs Clemente rebuilt and would go on to take wins over former world champion Romeo Anaya, world title contenders Jose Torres, Ernesto Herrera, Refugio Rojas and Raul Tirado.
To end the 1970's Clemente fought Salvador Sanchez and Ruben Castillo, going the distance with both men. Amazingly his stiff run continued into 1980 when he faced Rocky Lockridge, Rocky Gacia and Juan Laporte to end his career. Whilst we're not counting those 3 losses against him here that is just an insane run for anyone.
Clemente may not have been a world beater but he was a true gatekeeper, no matter what the numbers on his record state.
Eijiro Murata (career tally 24-2-3 (15); record during the 1970's 16-0-1 (10))
We mentioned in our 1960's article that Mitsunori Seki was one of the best never to win a world title, and the same can also be said of Eijiro Murata, the very talented Japanese Bantamweight who got 4 shots at the world title and came incredibly close twice. In fact the similarities between Murata and Seki don't just end at their multiple world title shots, but both also dominated their divisions on the oriental scene with 12 defenses of the OPBF title, however in Murata's case they were spread over the 1970's and 1980's.
Murata was a top amateur who missed out on the 1976 Olympics. Having missed out on the Olympics he turned professional and quickly made an impact with a 57 second win over future Japanese Flyweight champion Masaru Fuji. Just months later he stopped former world title challenger Hisami Numata, and then notched wins over future Japanese Bantamweight champions Joe Aaki and Hurricane Teru. Just to explain those wins in a little more context, they were all in his first 6 professional bouts.
In 1978 Murata beat Yung-Shik Kim to claim the OPBF Bantamweight title which he defended 4 times before the decade came to an end.
Sadly the 1980's was a more notable decade for Murata, when he defended the OPBF title a further 8 times and had 4 world title fights, but for just the 1970's he managed to go unbeaten, beat a number of Japanese champions and win the OPBF title. An impressive decade, despite not being the one with his most notable contests.
Shinichi Kadota (Career tally 38-10-1 (25); record during the 1970's 21-6-1 (17))
Japanese southpaw Shinichi Kadota was 20 years old when the decade began and had managed to make a name for himself in LA, fighting at the Olympic Auditorium in LA 5 times in 1969. That gave him momentum heading into he 1970's, which was when he did his best work.
In 1970 Kadota went 5-1, losing a decision in the Philippines to the excellent Rene Barrientos before winning the OPBF Lightweight title 4 months later. As the OPBF champion Kadota would make 3 defenses of the title and score a non-title win over Guts Itshimatsu. Sadly for Kadota he would lose the title to Ishimatsu in a rematch 5 months after stopping him.
In the summer of 1972, and for most of 1973, Kadota fought in the US. His American bouts included a loss to Jeyvier Ayala but also a huge shock win over former WBC Lightweight champion Chango Carmona. That win lead to Carmona being tested to see if he'd been drugged and essentially ended Carmona's career near the top of the sport. Sadly for Kadota the win, which should have opened doors, essentially ended his run in the US. On his return to Japan he stopped former world title challenger Jimmy Robertson in 4 rounds and moved towards his world title fight.
In 1974 Kadota got the big opportunity that his career had been building to, but found out he was no match for the brilliant Antonio Cervantes, who stopped him in the 8th round. Prior to the stoppage the gutsy Kadota had been dropped numerous times. It was his first stoppage loss, but essentially the end of his career. He would fight on for the next 2 years and go 3-2-1 (3), with both of those losses coming by stoppage.
Whilst most looking at Kadota's name will see the Cervantes loss, that's really ignoring his OPBF title reign and his wins over Guts Ishimatsu, Chango Carmona and Jimmy Robertson. Not a world beater, but a damn good fighter.
Ryu Sorimachi (Career tally 57-12-4 (31); record during the 1970's 27-7-3 (14))
Japanese Welterweight-come-Light Middleweight Ryu Sorimachi just narrowly missed out on being featured in the 1960's version of this series but there was no real way we could ignore him for what he did in the 1970's. It was a decade in which Sorimachi made the OPBF belt his. He may have made "only" 11 defenses but he held the title from October 28th 1970 to March 26th 1979. That means from the entire decade he held the belt in over 100 of the 120 months of the decade. As well as that long reign as the OPBF champion he also held the Japanese title earlier in the decade.
Sorimachi entered the decade as the Japanese Welterweight champion, having held the title since January 1969, and would defend it twice in 1970. Later that same year he took a non-title win over former world title challenger Hisao Minami before ripping the OPBF title from Byong Mo Yim, beginning his legendary reign. Whilst he would only defend the belt around once a year he wasn't exactly ducking easy match up, instead wanted to claim a world title.
In 1973 Sorimachi got his first world title fight, moving up in weight and losing a razor thin decision to Koichi Wajima for the unified Light Middleweight titles. A loss to Eddie Perkins in May 1974 should have dented his hopes, but they didn't and 5 months later he would get a second world title fight, losing in 7 rounds to to Oscar Albarado as he against challenged for the Light Middleweight titles. Despite those losses he remained the Oriental Welterweight champion and in 1976 notched an excellent defense against Pedro Adigue.
In 1978 Sorimachi finally got a world title fight at his weight, Welterweight. That also ended in defeat as Carlos Palomino stopped him in 7 rounds. That was pretty much the end of Sorimachi as a major fighter and he would go 2-2 before retiring, having finally lost the Oriental title in March 1979 to Man Duk Lee
Whilst Sorimachi will go down as a man who lost 3 world title fights during the decade his incredibly long run with the OPBF title is incredible and he certainly did more than most during his career. His wins may not match up with some, but he's very much an over-looked and under-rated fighter who dominated the oriental scene for close to a decade.
Lion Furuyama (Career tally 38-12-4 (27); record during the 1970's 21-11-3, (16))
A man we mentioned in passing earlier in this article is Lion Furuyama, who deserves to be included here as another under-rated fighter from the disco decade. He entered the decade with 19 professional bouts under his belt but it was the 1970's that really was a much more compelling decade for him with 35 bouts including some against some top names.
His first year of the decade was a genuinely intriguing one, with a decision loss to Eddie Perkins, in March being followed 2 months later by a Japanese Light Welterweight title defense against Kazuyoshi Kubokura. Just 4 months after that he became a double champion by taking the OPBF title form Chun Kyo Shin and even fit in a defense of that title before the year was over. In fact during the year he went 5-1-1 (4). Things weren't as good the following year, when he went 1-3, and lost the OPBF title. Despite those set backs he bounced back in 1972, becoming a 2-time Japanese national champion with a win over Hiroshi Shoji.
Furuyama got his first world title fight in 1973, losing a clear decision to the then WBA Light Welterweight champion Antonio Cervantes in Panama. He bounced back, defending the Japanese in 1974 before travelling to Italy and facing off with Perico Fernandez for the vacant WBC title. Furuyama was incredible unlucky against Fernandez, losing a highly debated split decision to Fernandez, which had he won would have seen him create history as the first Japanese fighter to win a world title in Europe, something that didn't happen until 2019.
The loss to Fernandez began Furuyama's down fall. He would narrowly retain the Japanese title against Battlehawk Kazama then suffer a TKO loss to a then 1-0 Saensak Muangsurin, which was Furuyama's first stoppage loss. That was followed by another as Furuyama's career began to spiral. Thankfully he finally clicked back into form, and made another defense of the Japanese title before facing Muangsurin in a rematch for the WBC Light Welterweight. This time around Furuyama went the distance with the big punching Thai, losing a clear decision to the Thai. That could have been the end, but instead Furuyama would record 4 national title defenses, before losing back to back bouts in 1977 then retiring.
Furuyama may never have won a world title, but making a total of 12 defenses of the Japanese Light Welterweight title during his two reigns, as well as winning the OPBF and giving Fernandez such a close bout shows his ability. He could certainly have done more, and with a bit of luck he would got the decision over Fernandez and things would have been very, very different for the man from the Sasazaki Boxing Gym, which would have had a second world champion.
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