When we look to doing our Closet Classic pieces we like to mix up fights we expect Western fans to have seen and some they haven't. Today's is one where we expect a lot of Western fans to have seen, but maybe not seen recently. It is, however, one of those bouts that is truly worth a rewatch, and is one of the best bouts we saw in 2015. In fact it's genuinely one of the best bouts from the last decade, with power shots being thrown by both men, both being hurt, and the action being thrilling. It was the type of fight where both men were perfectly well matcher, and heading in anticipation was high based on the men involved.
Takashi Miura (29-2-2, 22) Vs Francisco Vargas (22-0-1, 16)
Heading into the fight Japan's Takashi Miura was the WBC Super Featherweight champion. He had gained a reputation as a Mexi-killer, after beating the likes of Gamaliel Diaz, Sergio Thompson, Dante Jardon and Edgar Puerta, and was seeking his 5th defense of the WBC title. Although Miura was making his US debut here he had managed to be on the radar of plenty of fans due to bout with Sergio Thompson, which took place in Mexico, his loss to Takashi Uchiyama, and the fact he'd beaten the well known Billy Dib. He wasn't a star as such, but was well known among hardcore fans as an exciting, heavy handed, southpaw slugger. He was a truly destructive fighter, and the fact 7 of his wins had come by decision gave off the wrong perception. He hit harder than his record suggested.
Mexico's Francisco Vargas was the WBC mandatory challenger for Miura and was building a reputation as a must watch fighter. Win or lose Vargas was a thrill a minute fighter, and had been on a great run whilst building his name in the US. Coming in to this he had beaten notable fighters like Jerry Belmontes, Abner Cotto, Juan Manuel Lopez and Will Tomlinson. He was regarded as a serious action fighter who pressed the fight, fought at a high pace and had serious power. He was grinding opponents down, and whether they survived the distance or not they were getting beaten up be the man dubbed "Bandito". For him not only was the WBC title on the line, but also Mexican pride and a chance to avenge his fellow Mexican fighters who had been unable to take the title from "Bomber Left".
From the off we knew to expect an explosive clash, and that's exactly what we got. The first round saw both men jockeying for ring control whilst looking to unleash their power. This saw both men landing some huge shots, and at one point Miura was badly hurt, before finding the space to fire back, and land a left hand. It wasn't enough to slow the Mexican's pressure, but was enough to get himself some space to recover. From there we had a brilliant clash of styles, and both men being rocked, hurt and dropped.
In round 4 it was Miura's power that had a major break through, as he dropped Vargas and left the Mexican badly cut. Vargas was likely fortunate that the round was close to over by the time he was dropped and saw out the remainder without being caught. He then bounced back, worked his way back into the fight, before being left looking close to done at the end of round 8.
We won't ruin anything else from this one,but we will say this is a must watch fight, and was regarded by many as the 2015 Fight of the Year. It was dramatic in the extreme and amazingly exciting, brutal and saw both men taking serious punishment.
The Japan Vs Mexico rivalry has given us some incredible fights over the years and today we look at one of those fights for this week's Closet Classic, and this may go down as one of the most over-looked fights in that great rivalry. Despite the fact it's a relatively knew fight and was a sensational war, taking place only a few years ago in 2013. This fight saw knockdowns being traded, power shots thrown and an absolutely incredibly amount of punishment being handed out.
Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19) vs Sergio Thompson (27-2, 25)
Japan's Takashi Miura had won the WBC Super Featherweight title in April 2013, battering Gamaliel Diaz into submission in 9 rounds. Miura hadn't impressed as a boxer, losing a number of rounds to Diaz, but his power was a difference maker. He had dropped Diaz in rounds 3,6,7 and 9 to secure his victory. Prior to winning the title Miura had been best known for his 2011 bout with WBA champion Takashi Uchiyama, dropping Uchiyama before being stopped himself, and the one thing that was clear, through his career, was that Miura could punch. Going into this bout that power was seen as being his key, as getting a decision on the road is never easy.
Mexican fighter Sergio "Yeyo" Thompson was a relative unknown outside of Mexico, until 2012, when he upset Jorge Linares. That was his big break out win and he followed it up with 5 straight stoppages in the 14 months that followed, leading him to his world title shot with Miura. Although not well known it was clear that Thompson could punch. He stopping people left, right and centre and was unbeaten since a split decision in September 2010 against Alisher Rakhimov, since which he had gone 13-0 (12). Coming into the fight with Miura the Mexican puncher was 29, and it really seemed like it was now or never. A loss here and there was a chance he was never going to get another world title bout, especially with his 30th birthday just a few weeks away.
From the very round round it was clear than neither man wanted to hear the final bell, in fact that should have been obvious before even a punch was thrown. Despite that neither man wanted to take too many risks, and they were both looking for the angle and position to land their power shots. They were both stood at mid range, looking to land their hooks. It seemed "Yeyo" did enough to take a relative quiet opening round, but it wasn't long until the touch paper was lit in round 2 and bombs started to be landed by both men, with Thompson being dropped part way through the round. It was the first of 3 knockdowns between the men who really tried to crack through each others chins.
This wasn't an all action war, though was high action, and got better and better as the fight went on. The deliberate early pace, that built to a growing crescendo made for an edge of the seat spectacle, and it had a continual feeling that a single punch, from either, would be the undoing of the other man. Jabs were almost non-existent, with hooks, crosses, uppercuts being the order of the day.
This was war, this was action, this was brilliant!
Japan's Takashi Miura (31-4-2, 24) will never go down in the list of "greatest Japanese world champions" but during the last decade he really notable, impressive, exciting and deserves a very honourable mention in the list of the Asian Fighter of the Decade.
The "Bomber Left" went 14-3 (10) during the decade, and fought for the first 7 years of the decade. His first 3 bouts during the decade were defenses of the Japanese Super Featherweight title before he got his first shot at the big time, fighting with Takashi Uchiyama. He came up short against Uchiyama, but did drop the then unbeaten WBA champion. Just over 2 years later he went on to claim the WBC Super Featherweight title.
As the WBC champion Miura recorded 4 defenses, beating Sergio Thompson, Dante Jardon, Edgar Puerta and Billy Dib. They are elite tier wins, but are solid wins, especially the one over Thompson which came in Mexico.
Despite losing his title in his 5th defense Miura actually enhanced his reputation in his loss, coming in a 2015 FOTY contender with Francisco Vargas. The bout, which was Miura's US debut, him saw dropping Vargas, being dropped himself, looking on the verge of a win in round 8 and then being stopped in round 9. Just over a year later he would return to the US and compete in another FOTY, stopping Miguel Roman in January 2017, in a total war.
Sadly Miura's career essentially ended just 6 months after the Roman bout, when he lost a decision to Miguel Berchelt and then decided to hang them.
Although he only fought at world level for 8 bouts, and went 5-3 during those bouts, his impact was clear and the quality of bouts he fought him earns him a very warranted honourable mention.
Boxing might be the sweet science but, if we're all being honest, it's also a fight. Due to it being a fight we of course love the true fighters, the ones who come to the ring with the intention of stopping their opponents and are willing to do all they can to finish a fight early. In this feature we're going to take a look at 10 of the most fun to watch Asian fighters. Some fighters you will be familiar with whilst others you may not be too aware of, one thing is for certain however, these men mean business every time they step in the ring.
-Wanheng Menayothing-Intelligent pressure fighter, even though he lacks lights out power he is great fun to watch
-Akira Yaegashi-A real warrior who is coming to the end of his career though will always go out on his shield and give fans good value.
-Takuya Kogawa-A warrior through and through. Though he lacks power he does enjoy a tear up and is scarcely in a dull fight
-Suguru Muranaka-Another warrior who enjoys a tear up and is more than happy to let his hands go despite not being a note puncher.
-Knockout CP Freshmart-With a name like “Knockout” you already know he's looking for the stoppage every time.
-Rex Tso-Like many featured above this man from Hong Kong is flawed but that's what makes him so much fun with every fight being a war
-Kyoo Hwan Hwang-Korean teenage has got ability though often lets his "Korean instinct" kick in and turns every fight so far into a slugfest
It's been a while since Japanese boxing fans have had free to air action though over the next few weeks fans will get a number of free to air shows across 4 of the terrestrial channels with each showing at least 1 big name in action.
The first of the shows comes a week today as the unbeaten Shinsuke Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16) defends his WBC Bantamweight title against unbeaten Argentinian Diego Ricardo Santillan (23-0, 15) on April 16th. This will be Yamanaka's 8th defense of the title and will see him attempting to continue his reign of terror in the packed Bantamweight division. For fans wanting to watch this one it will be on NTV at 19:56 Tokyo time with the broadcast set to finish at 20:54.
For those wanting to watch the undercard bouts for that card they are unfortunately not on a free to air channel.
Less than a week later we see action on TBS who will be televising two world title bouts. One of those will see IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) defending his belt against Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-3-1, 15) whilst the the other bout will see the mega-popular Kazuto Ioka (16-1, 10) attempt to become a 3-weight world champion as he battles Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19) in a bout for the WBA Flyweight title. The beginning of this broadcast is stated to begin just before 20:00 local time on April 22nd.
From what we understand Sho Ishida (18-0, 10) may have highlights shown if the two main bouts both end early.
To begin May the televised action continues to roll and Fuji TV will begin the month by televising a couple of interesting looking bouts. The first of those will be Takashi Miura's (28-2-2, 21) WBC Super Featherweight world title defense against former IBF Featherweight champion Bily Dib (39-3, 23) whilst the other will be a bout between Ryota Murata (6-0, 4) and Douglas Damiao Ataide (13-1-1, 6). This show will give Miura a chance to really establish himself with fans whilst also allowing Murata to face a world ranked foe in what should make for an enjoyable card.
The hope here is that if both bouts are over early then highlights may be shown from Akira Yaegashi's (20-5, 10) bout, which will see the exciting 32 year old fighting for the first time as a fully blown Super Flyweight.
The last of the free to air shows during the little burst of action comes on May 6th when TV Tokyo get in on the action and televise a couple of interesting bouts between Japanese champions and Thai challengers. The first of those bouts will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (24-2-1, 8) defending his title against Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26) in what will be Taguchi's first defense of the title he won this past December. The other bout is a much more mouth watering contest between unbeaten WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18) and Thai challenger Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4). Uchiyama will be seeking the 10th defense of the title, as he slowly moves towards the Japanese record of 13 world title defenses, whilst Jomthong look to claim a world title in boxing to go along with his numerous titles from Muay Thai.
At the moment there hasn't been a time announce for either the Fuji TV or the TV Tokyo show however we suspect details will emerge closer to the date.
Of course whilst these channels are free to air in Japan that doesn't mean they will be the only ways to watch the bouts. For example we're aware that the Takayama Vs Fahlan bout will be aired in Thailand, on Mono 29, and the Ioka Vs Reveco bout will be televised in Argentina, on TYC Sports. At the moment however it does seem like some bouts are set to miss out on international coverage and that none of the bouts are set to be televised in the US or UK. Thankfully the free channels from Japan are available via certain methods on line.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kazutoioka.com)
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