There are few fighters as revered with Japanese fight fans as the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. In the 1990's he was as close to a boxing mega star that Japan had, and in many ways his charisma and style was something totally different. He was able to draw audiences that other Japanese fighters could only dream of, and even in defeat he remained hugely popular. In 1997 he took part in one of his most iconic bouts, and one of the most exciting bouts to ever be staged in a Japanese ring. Not only that but he ripped up the form books and put in one of the best performances of his career, despite being seen as being a man on the slide.
Sirimongkol Singwancha (16-0, 6) Vs Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (14-4-1, 11)
Thailand's unbeaten Sirimongkol Singwancha had won the WBC "interim" Bantamweight title in 1996 but was upgraded swiftly and defended the full version of the title just 6 months later, defeating Jesus Sarabia. In his third defense he would go on to defeat Victor Rabanales before heading on to Japan to take on Tatsuyoshi. He was beginning to get a reputation as a very talented fighter, and although he lacked fire power hee was highly skilled and strong at Bantamweight, and like many Thai's seemed to be able to drain himself down much lower than a typical fighter would.
Tatsuyoshi on the other hand was a former champion, who had beaten Greg Richardson in 1991 for the WBC Bantamweight title, but had lost it in his first defense to the aforementioned Rabanales. He would go on to claim the interim title but lose in a unification bout to Yasuei Yakushiji and his career then meandered with 2 losses to Daniel Zaragoza, in 1996 and 1997. It seemed like his career was fading. He had had eye injuries, defeats and a very hard career, not helped by his aggressive style and poor defense.
The bout started somewhat slowly, though not with a typical feeling out round, with the youth and energy of Sirimongkol looking like it was a little bit too much for a weary Tatsuyoshi. The Japanese fighter certainly didn't look terrible, but the crisp connects were most from the Thai who lacked the issues coming in that "Joe of Naniwa" had. From the bout got progressively more exciting and through rounds 4 and 5 the touch paper really got lit as Tatsuyoshi began to force his fight on the action. From there on the fight was just something special, with Sirimongkol slowing down and being forced to fight the wrong fight.
With the fight being fought at close range we had none stop excitement as the two men went on to deliver one of the greatest back and forth wars of 1996.
Amazingly after the bout both had significant success, with Sigimongkol later going on to win a world title at Super Featherweight and, in 2018, fighting as a Light Heavyweight, whilst Tatsuyoshi had an Indian summer in his career.
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