In this series we've looked at lots of fights and a number of those have featured the same fighter several times. When those particular fighters, such as Rex Tso or Yon Soo Choi, are involved we know to expect something special. Today we feature two series regulars facing off in what was another Close Classic from the late 1990s.
Takanori Hatakeyama (22-0-2, 17) Vs Lakva Sim (10-1-1, 9)
After winning the WBA Super Featherweight title in 1998, in his second attempt at the belt, Takanori Hatakyama made his first defense against Saul Duran, and he earned a draw against the Mexican to retain his title. The exciting Japanese fighter, one of the most popular fighters in the country at the time, would then make his second defense as he took on Mongolian warrior Lakva Sim. At this point in time Hatakeyema was a genuine star, and at 23 years old it was felt he still getting better. His win over Yong Soo Choi, in their second bout, showed improvement from their first bout. As well as improving he was also legitimately regarded one of the most exciting fighters in Asia in the late 1990's.
Lakva Sim entered the bout as a real danger man. His only loss to this point had been a razor thin one to Yong Soo Choi, when Sim challenged the then WBA Super Featherweight champion in just his 6th bout. The only other mark on his record was a draw, in Korea to Bong Chul Kim. Despite those set backs Sim was a real tough out for anyone in the sport. He was physically imposing, heavy handed, set a high work rate and was scarily tough. He was the sort of fighter that took a bomb, and walked forward like it was nothing. He could be out boxed, at least in spurts, but was so aggressive and tough that eventually he found ways to drag fighters into his fight. When they did they took incredible punishment, win or lose.
Unsurprisingly this bout started with Hatakeyama fighting smartly, creating distance and trying to work at range with his footwork. It was the tactic that had helped him to beat Choi in their second bout, and was the type of tactic that was going to be needed to beat Sim, however as with Choi rematch he was also going to need to get Sim's respect.
Hatakeyama kept a similar game plan in round 2 as he did in the opening round, trying to use his feet to create space and negate Sim's pressure. Sadly though his inability to get Sim's respect meant the Mongolian was beginning to build momentum behind his offensive work and gradually began forcing his fight on Hatakeyama. The Japanese fan favourite landed some of the more eye catching blows in the round, but it was clear that Sim was starting to get into his range.
After a couple of decent, but not quite sensational rounds, things really came alive in round 4 as Sim's pressure forced Hatakeyama to really begin to fight fire with fire, and that's where the bout picked up, quickly going from a good fight in a thrilling one. It was clear that Sim was working his way into things but Hatakeyama wasn't overwhelmed, and was having moments of his own. Could the local star hold on, and find a way to neutralise the pressure, or was the challenger going to grind him down?
Whilst not a brutal 12 round fight, like some other Hatakeyama and Sim fights, this was still a thrilling action fight, and real proof of toughness, from both men, for as long as it lasted.
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