Sometimes the best fights are the very small hall bouts that only a handful of people see. The ones fought away from TV cameras. Other times we get in world title bouts that go massively over-looked, and years on need fans to essentially rediscover them, despite the fact they are fought at a very high level. Today we look at one of those lost world title bouts in out latest Closet Classic. It was a bout from 1987 that many fans won't have seen, but they should!
Takuya Muguruma (25-1-1, 19) vs Chan Young Park (24-3-2, 7)
In one corner was WBA Bantamweight champion Takuya Mugurma, a Japanese fighter from Osaka who had been on a bit of a tear. No one would saw Muguruma was the best fighter out there but he had gone unbeaten since a split decision loss, in Korea, to Youn Kap Choi. That bout had followed a draw with Eiji Oyama. Following those two marks on Muguruma's record he had refused to let the judges get involved in his fights, scoring 7 straight T/KO's, including a 5th round KO of Azael Moran for the WBA Bantamweight. Although he had originally fought at 122lbs Muguruma dropped down in weight to win the WBA Bantamweight title, and was looking like a man in great form.
Chan Young Park had had a strange career up to this point. He was 7-2-2 after 11 bouts, and that had included a loss to former world champion Shoji Oguma, when Park was just 18. He had rebuilt from that going 17-1, with his only loss coming to Khaosai Galaxy in 1983, when Park was just 20 years old. The losses to Galaxy and Oguma helped shape Park into becoming a very good young fighter, and he had reeled off 10 wins to earn a shot at Muguruma and the WBA Bantamweight title. He was still some what lacking a big win before this bout, but he did have decent victories over Neptali Alamag and Ernie Cataluna, who were solid regional level fighters.
Despite being a bout for a world title this wasn't going to be a bout that had much attention. It was between two Asian fighters who really hadn't proven themselves as world class fighters. It was the first defense by Muguruma and the first world title bout by Park, not a bout featuring a top name, or between two proven fighters.
What we ended up getting however, was something a little bit special.
From the early moments it was clear Muguruma wasn't expecting Park to be able to take his power. The Japanese champion pressed forward through out the round and landed some huge shots, including a massive right hand in the first minute. Park took it well, and tried to respond, but was often found being backed up by the power and aggression of Muguruma. Muguruma was intent on not letting Park settling early and continued to aggressively press in round 2. To his credit Park tried to spoil when he needed to, and elected to fight fire with fire and and when he felt comfortable doing so. Despite being backed up it was Park landing the cleaner shots for the most part, and showing himself to be a smart fighter against the aggression of Muguruma.
With the first 2 rounds being violent, and with Muguruma putting some much into them, he seemed to begin to slow a touch in round 3. It wasn't massively noticeable, and he was still full of fire, but his aggression was being blunted just a touch easier. With that happening Park was beginning to stand his ground a bit more, and even forced the champion back a time or two as he began to pick up his pace. Muguruma went down part way through the round, but that was from a nasty clash of heads, rather than a punch. We now had some controversy as Muguruma got time to recover, just as it had began to look like he was slowing.
On the restart Muguruma still seemed a little hazy but quickly found his focus and range. Sadly for the champion the short break didn't really affect Park at all, and the Korean continued to land the better shots.
In the middle rounds Muguruma's face was beginning to look a mess, with some clear swelling around the eyes, he was however not deterred and continued to throw shots, despite the amount of punishment he was taking. Park continued to be the smarter fighter, clinching, countering, out boxing and out thinking Muguruma, but the champion seemed to be spurred by something else, and in round 6 he began to land some huge shots as the two men found themselves trading. By now the bout was taking on a life of it's own.
With both men digging in deep and unloading huge bombs on each other it was becoming obvious that this wasn't going to go the distance. The real question however was regarding who was going to stop who. Was Park going to take out the determined, though crude, champion or was the power and aggression of Muguruma going to break down Park? We'll leave that to you to enjoy.
Whilst it can be hard to REALLY know whether a bout ruined a fighter, we wouldn't be surprised if this helped speed up the retirements of both men. Both took a lot of punishment here, and it's quite possible that neither man was ever quite the same afterwards. This was brutal, punishing, and fantastic 2-way action, well worthy of 50 minutes of any fight fans time!
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