Although it's not unheard of it is rare for a decision in the sport to leave someone so disillusioned with it that they walk away from boxing in disgust. Perhaps the most famous example was Dave Tiberi, who left the sport after losing a very controversial decision to James Toney. Two of the judges for that bout weren't even licensed in the state where that bout took place. Tiberi however, isn't alone and today we look at another bout that sent a fighter, essentially, into retirement. This was less high profile, but incredibly controversial, and very much a dubious decision.
Teiru Kinoshita (21-1-1, 5) Vs Cyborg Nawatedani (9-2-2, 4)
We suspect most fans reading this will recognise the name of Teiru Kinoshita. He's a 2-time world title challenger, he took Zolani Tete 12 rounds in a bout for the vacant IBF Super Flyweight title in July 2014, before Tete travelled to the UK and stopped Paul Butler, and also lost to Jerwin Ancajas on a Manny Pacquiao under-card. The man from Kobe was a decent domestic level boxer. Not world class, by any stretch, but a decent domestic fighter with good skills, and a total lack of power. This was going to be his third bout since losing to Tete 13 months earlier, and a clear step up from the stay busy bouts he had had since the Tete bout.
Whilst Kinoshita is pretty well known Tomoya "Cyborg" Nawatedani really isn't. Or rather wasn't. He entered the bout with a 9-2-2 record but had gone 8-0-1 since a struggling start to his professional career. He had turned things around really well and had notched notable domestic wins over the likes of Junichi Ebisuoka, Sho Nakazawa and Shunji Nagata. He wasn't anywhere close to the world rankings but the then 26 year old was getting his career on track, building momentum, moving towards a Japanese title fight. He had been climbing up the domestic rankings and a win over Kinoshita would likely have helped him secure a title bout the following year.
At this point in time Kinoshita was being lined up for a second world title bout. He was still highly ranked by the IBF, with a top 5 ranking, whilst Nawatedani was ranked #6 in Japan. On paper this was a mismatch, but in the ring things did not go as expected in this all southpaw bout.
From the opening round Nawatedani pressed the action. He looked crude and was caught coming in, but didn't seem the slightest bit discouraged by Kinoshita who quickly began to back off. With Kinoshita going backwards there was even less pop on his shots than usual. He really couldn't keep Nawatedani away, and the unheralded man kept march in, landing the better shots, and the most eye catching shots. Not only was he landing the better blows, but he was also out landing Kinoshita.
It wasn't just the first round that Nawatedani did better than Kinoshita, but pretty much every round. Kinoshita would land some good shots, but they were few and far between whilst Nawatedani's success was consistent, regular and and far more frequent. He was the one dictating the pace, forcing the fight and even left Kinoshita cut late on.
After 8 rounds both men were left with some swelling, and it was clear both had been in a fight, and it was a good fight with Kinoshita being dragged into a war and doing all he could to survive. After the final bell their was a loud applause from the fans who had been treat to a bit of a forgotten, small hall classic. Then we got the scorecards and, giving Kinoshita the split decision.
The reactions said it all. The crowd cheered the card that had gone to Nawatedani and the mildly applauded the actual result. The result that had favoured the home town fight got a mild applause, whilst a scorecard in favour of the visiting fighter, got a roar.
After the fight various Japanese papers reported on the bout, and then Nawatedani essentially vanished from boxing. After this result that was no surprise. He had given his all and had his momentum stopped, when really the bout should have ended in a huge boost for him.
This isn't a very well known controversy, but is a notably one, especially given that just a few fights later Kinoshita would take on Ancajas, and look totally inept at world level against the Filipino.
(Footage courtesy of Westbrook Satoshi)
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