During this series we've looked at some poor decisions, some weird stoppages, some poor time keeping, some odd technical decisions and some dirty behaviour. Today we're going to look at a bout that seems to have fans split three different ways.
There are those suggesting the result should have stood, and that the ending was legal. Others suggesting the bout should have ended in a TKO, as per the official ruling. Other state that due to the referee making an unclear call the bout should have either been either a technical decision or the recipient should have received time to recover, before the bout resumed. Whatever your take it's certainly an unusual ending and features one of the most controversial boxers of recent years.
Takehiro Shimada (22-3-1, 15) Vs Edwin Valero (23-0, 23)
For this bout we travel back to 2008, with Venezuela's Edwin Valero being the WBA Super Featherweight champion and Japan's Takehiro Shimada being his 4th challenger.
We suspect most reading this will be familiar with Edwin Valero. The Venezuelan destroyer had created buzz early in his career and had become a fan favourite in Japan in the 00's with Teiken pushing him as big thing. He had made his Japanese debut in in 2005, stopping Hero Bando in brutal fashion, and had then returned to take out Genaro Trazancos, Michael Lozada and the tough Nobuhito Honmo.
As well as his bouts in Japan Valero was making a name worldwide and fighting around the globe. By this point he had already fought in Venezuela, the US, Argentina, Panama, France, Panama and Mexico. For fans in the US and Europe he was mostly this fighter who they hadn't seen much of, with his only US bouts being very early in his career, but he was a man or international intrigue. He was a destructive force that everyone wanted to see. He had run up 18 straight opening round wins, and had proven himself a world class fighter in 2006, when he stopped Vicente Mosquera.
Takehiro Shimada on the other hand was essentially an unknown outside of Japan. He had never fought outside of Japan and in fact all of his fights were in Tokyo, with most taking place at Korakuen Hall. Despite never fighting away from home he had proven what he could do, and had twice given Rick Yoshimura a good, competitive bout, and had later won the Japanese Lightweight title. Until facing Valero he had only lost 3 times, twice to Yoshimura and once, early in his career, to Tadashi Honda.
On the flipside of that Shimada had never been stopped and had notched wins against good domestic foes, like Hidekazu Matsunobu, Chikashi Inada and Kengo Nagashima. Sadly following a win over Nagashima in 2004 he had toiled, with a string of tick over fights until he finally got a shot at a world title, taking on Valero in the summer of 2008.
Unlike many fights in this series much of the most is completely irrelevant to the controversy. There was no long drawn out things, but instead the controversy came at the end of the bout. With that in mind we're only going to briefly discuss the bout in general.
Through 6 rounds Shimada was doing his best to annoy Valero without posing much of an offensive threat. The Venezuelan was having regular success but never really hurting Shimada, who did enough to frustrate Valero at times. It seemed clear that Shimada's game plan was to frustrate early on, try to nick a round or two, and then test Valero's stamina later in the bout.
In round 7 Shimada's plan came apart when he was hurt. Just after the mid-way point in the round the pressure from Valero got too much and Shimada looked like he wilted to the point of taking a knee. After a pause it seemed like Valero hit a downed Shimada. Shimada got to his feet but was then deemed unable to continue, not held due to a massive swelling around his left eye. He didn't kick up much off a fuss about the stoppage, and he may even have been going down to just accept his loss and get some medical help.
From one angle it looked like Shimada had taken a knee before the final show and that the referee had tried to step in and stop Valero from throwing it. From another angle however it was clear that Shimada hadn't actually fully gone down. He was using the ropes to stay up right, but wasn't, technically, touching the canvas with anything but his feet.
With the referee right in front of Shimada at the end of the bout it was a call he was in the best position to make, though it seemed very much like he was going to call a knockdown, but did it with no conviction, allowing Valero the free shot and the TKO.
We've included the ending below and you can decide for yourself. Was this a totally legal shot, a legal but dirty shot, an accidental foul due to the referee's poor call, or a flagrant foul?
Notably Valero's career now is very much over shadowed by the way his life, and that of his wife, came to an end. Something that makes it hard to celebrate him as a fighter, despite his impressive record and exciting performance. It's hard, if not impossible, to separate the in ring fighter, from the man he was outside of boxing.
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