Today we delve into the Closet to pull out a classic that has long been over-looked, for far too long. It was a bout that brought excitement, a high level of activity, and styles that gelled well. Given their was some amazing fights right through the 1980's we under-stand why this one was over-looked but it's one that deserves a lot more attention than it seems to get. In fact it rarely ever gets mentioned online, despite being world title bout between heavy handed guys, and being a great, great fight to watch.
Takuya Muguruma (26-2-1, 20) vs Wilfredo Vazquez (26-3-1, 22)
Japan's Takuya Muguruma is one of the countries least well remembered champions. The man from Osaka won the WBA Bantamweight title in March 1987 but lost it less than 2 months later, losing a thrilling bout to Chan Young Park in 11 rounds. His short reign, added to the fact that he's an Osakan fighter fighting at Bantamweight and never fought outside of Asia, do hurt his profile in some ways. Despite the low profile internationally Muguruma knew how to fight. He was heavy handed and fought with an all out aggressive style. He was a marauding nightmare and his only clear loss in 29 bouts, up to this point, had been the loss to Park. During his career he had had built his name domestically on his Japanese title run before stopping Azael Moran for the vacant WBA Bantamweight title. Less than a year after losing his title he got a chance to reclaim the WBA Bantamweight title.
Opposite to Muguruma was Puerto Rican puncher Wilfredo Vazquez. Vazquez had come up shot in his first world bout, losing to Miguel Lora in 1986, but had then travelled to South Korea and dethroned Chan Young Park, the man who had beaten Muguruma. In his first defense of the title Vazquez would travel to Japan and take on Muguruma, giving the Japanese fighter a chance to recapture his title. Despite being a world champion at this point he was relatively unknown himself, and was a long way from becoming a 3-weight world champion. Better known for his other title reigns, that came later in his career, Vazquez was a big puncher, and he carried that power up to Featherweight with no issues. Now a days he is pretty well remembered, and his son would later win a world title, but at this point in time he was fairly unknown.
Given the traits of the two men involved, Muguruma's in your face aggression and Vazquez's huge power and under-rated boxing skills, this had the potential to be very exciting and very explosive.
In the opening minute or so it looked like the boxing skills of Vazquez were going to be the key and he backed up Muguruma early on before the Japanese fighter turned things. For almost 40 seconds at the end of the round Vazquez was forced to fight off the ropes, with Muguruma pinning him there. Vazquez slipped, ducked and dived well, but the back and forth was intense. This wasn't typical opening round action, this was instead intense and thrilling.
Round 2 saw the hot action from the end of the opening round continued and Muguruma was forcing the pressure on to Vazquez, who again found himself pinned on the ropes. Once again the action was back and forth, with both fighting at an incredible pace up close. Muguruma didn't seem to care about Vazquez's reputation as a brutish puncher, and was instead the one taking the fight to him. The action got off the ropes early in round 3, but we again saw the man trading up close, and Muguruma seemed intend on forcing Vazquez back against the edges of the ring, pressing forward with with an intense will to win. Eventually the challenger backed the champion on to the ropes and the two began to unload in a thrilling back and forth once again.
As the bout went on Muguruma started to pay for his aggression, his face swelling badly, and Vazquez managed to begin boxing, moving and using his more accomplished skill set to take come back into the bout and force Muguruma backwards, turning the tables completely.
For those who like action, intensity, heart and desire this is a brilliant lost gem of a fight. It's one of those really amazing, yet over-looked bouts, that fans really owe themselves a chance to see. It really is an incredible bout and one that deserves so much more attention and fanfare than it gets. A true war fought at an incredible level with two men who matched each other wonderfully.
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