It's rare for a Japanese fighter to make a mark above 135lbs but in the 1980's the country had a couple of fighters that bucked that trend and made a mark a little higher up the scales than usual. One of those did so with power, being an aggressive, slightly crude, but thrilling and explosive fighter.
As we've said before in this series, when we see explosive and heavy handed fighters face off we can get some incredible bouts.Today's closet is one of those explosive bouts featuring the rare Japanese 140lb champion in a short, but very exciting brawl.
Tsuyoshi Hamada (21-1, 19) Vs Rene Arredondo (39-3, 34) II
The Japanese fighter in question was Tsuyoshi Hamada, who had won the Japanese and OPBF Lightweight titles before moving up in weight in 1986 to challenge Rene Arredondo for the WBC Light Welterweight title. The bout was a short lived one, with Hamada winning at 3:09 of round 1, knocking out Arredondo right on the 3:00 mark. The win had seen Hamada fulfil his potential and become only the second Japanese fighter to win a world title at 140lbs, following in the footsteps of Takeshi Fuji.
Although now known for his work on TV and as a major part of Teiken, Hamada really was a dangerous fighter blessed with freakish power. He had scored his first 17 wins by T/KO and had only gone the distance once in his first 19 bouts, which was his loss. We say 19 because he had also had a No Contest early in his career before winning his titles. He was a brutish puncher, who tried swarm opponents and cut the distance. He relied mostly on his physicality, his strength and his explosive power, as well as his aggressive foot work and power, to make up for being a relatively smaller Light Welterweight. Due to his power it that what he he hit he tended to destroy, as Arrdeondo found out in his their first bout. Following his title win he had defended the belt once, taking a razor thin win over Ronnie Shields, who he really struggled against. Now he was set to face Arredondo for the second time.
Rene Arrdeondo was a Mexican-American boxer-puncher who, like Hamada, had brutish power but was a much bigger man and a much more pure boxer. What he hit he tended to destroy, but unlike Hamada he set things up behind his boxing, not just his aggression. He was a long tall rangy fighter, who was blessed with heavy hands and had boxing in his veins, with with his older brother Ricardo being a success fighter himself. He had taken the WBC title in May 1986, when he stopped Lonnie Smith in 5 rounds, but had lost it in his first defense. To Hamada. Following the loss of the title he had bounced back with a single win, against talented veteran Saoul Mamby. Although not the best fighter out there Rene Arredondo was a danger man, and like Hamada he enjoyed a shoot out.
In the opening round we saw an aggressive Hamada trying to blow away Arredondo as he had in their first bout. The Mexican managed to do well to avoid the bombs from Hamada, for the most part, but did take a huge shot about a minute into the bout. It was following that that Arredondo himself started to settle, and get behind his own shots at range, even rocking Hamada and putting the champion on the back foot. Given how the first bout went, and with Hamada being rocked early on, it was clear both men had the power to hurt the other. Hamada was rocked again in the opening round, as the round came to an end.
Arredondo had learned from their first clash, but there was still a feeling this could go off the charts at any moment. There was a tension, and early in round 2 that tension rose as Hamada stumbled backwards across the ring. He recovered quickly and pressed forward, trying to land, but struggling against the taller man. In the final minute of round 2 Hamada finally got to Arredondo and it was clear that he believed his power would be too much for the challenger. Hamada would also hurt his man in round 3 as the tension kept rising.
We'll leave the rest of the bout for you to enjoy, and it really is enjoyable. Unlike many closet classics this wasn't an all out war, but it was still a must watch bout. It was exciting, dramatic, had a raucous crowd, it was competitive, explosive and felt like it could end at any moment. There weren't big lulls in the action and what we got always left us feeling like the bout was about to end. This was tense, exciting and saw both men landing some huge blows as the bout went on.
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