Not all of our Closet Classics are all out wars and some are just amazing bouts of technical brilliance, exciting back and forth battles and are simply thrilling must watch bouts. Today we want to break into the Cloest and share a modern classic which combined two unbeaten men, both with a lot of promise at the time. Entering the bout one man was the unbeaten OPBF champion whilst the other fighter was a man tipped for stardom, and a man who has since become one of the most men in Japanese boxing. Today we give you what was arguably the best Japanese bout of 2014.
Ryui Hara (18-0, 10) vs Kosei Tanaka (3-0, 1)
The date was October 30th 2014 and the then OPBF Minimumweight champion Ryuji Hara, who was on the verge of a world title fight, was facing off with the fast rising Kosei Tanaka. Both men were talented, speedy fighters, each looking to move forward with their careers. A win for Hara, would be his first OPBF title defense, whilst a win for Tanaka would see him create history as the quickest Japanese fighter to claim an OPBF belt.
Hara had been a solid amateur but unlike most successful amateurs he actually only got a C class license when hr turned professional in 2010. Later that year he would go on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year, at Minimumeight, before taking the Japanese title in 2012, with a win over Kenishi Horikawa, then the OPBF title in the spring of 2014. By the time of this fight he was universally world ranked and looked like a potential star for the Ohashi Gym, which by then was seeing Naoya Inoue racing through the ranks. Through his first 18 bouts Hara looked a very tidy, talented and quick boxer, though liked in terms of fire power and physicality.
Whilst Inoue had been getting fanfare and attention in the Kanto region of Japan the fans in Chubu seemed to know they had a special talent in the form of Kosei Tanaka, a very skilled youngster who had signed up with former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka in 2013 and scored 3 solid wins to begin his career. In a major step up he the faced off with Hara, looking to announce himself and taking an OPBF title in 4 fights, something that Inoue took 5 fights to do. He was seen as a man clearly on the tail of Inoue, but had to get through the "Monster's" stablemate here.
What we got was here was an incredibly bout, showing the speed and technique of both, in what was a technical buy thrilling, aggressive and exciting fight with both men looking like they were on fast forward at times. The bout had amazing back and forth and for 9 rounds it was almost impossible to split them, before finally seeing one man's strength and accuracy finally forced the other to wilt.
In many ways this is the start of Kosei Tanaka's incredible climb to becoming a 3 weight world champion, and is a bout that every fan, especially those of the lower weights, deserves to see.
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