Today we go back the early 2000's for another Closet Classic as Thailand and Japan faced off at the Super Arena in Saitama in a bit of a forgotten classic between two men who made a mark on the boxing world but neither is too well remembered now a days, as both were only short term world champions.
Yoddamrong Sithyodthong (29-0-1, 12) vs Osamu Sato (24-1-2, 13)
Few fans from the west will remember Thai fighter Yoddamrong Sithyodthong yet the exciting Thai was a pretty notable fighter in the late 1990's and the 00's. His impact at the top wasn't huge but with over 50 bouts to his name, several against notable fighters, he is someone who certainly played a part in an interesting Super Bantamweight scene. Around the turn of the millennium he scored a notable win over Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, fought to a draw with the always under-rated Jess Maca and in 2002 he claimed the WBA Super Bantamweight title, with a win over Yober Ortega at the age of 21. In 2004 he would also go on to face the all action Mahyar Monshipour, in what was another Monshipour's many thrilling wars. Between the Ortega bout and the Monshipour bout Yoddamrong travelled to Japan and faced off with Osamu Sato, with the Thai looking to make his first defense of the WBA Super Bantamweight title.
Osamu Sato was a fun to watch Japanese fighter from the Kyoei gym. His competition, on the whole, was limited with his best results up to this point being coming in a controversial draw against Willie Jorrin, in what was a fantastic war 3 months before facing Yoddamrong, and a win over Yong In Jo for the OPBF title. Although not the most impressive man in the ring the Japanese fighter was a physically strong warrior, who had proven his heart and desire against Jorrin, where he pulled himself off the canvas twice to earn a very hard fought draw. Against Jorrin we saw Sato impress not just with his heart and desire but also his energy and stamina. At 25 years old he was coming into his physical prime but wasn't living up to the nickname of "Hulk" that he had adopted. In fact whilst he was physically strong he appear to be lacking punching power, as shown by a sub 50% TKO rate entering this bout.
After a lengthy TV build up to the bout the men then got to work and the bout started quite slowly. It wasn't a slow, slow start but Sato fought cautiously, wanting to see what the 21 year old champion was bringing to the ring. By the end of the opening round however both men were starting to open up more and it was the physical strength of Sato against the handspeed and combinations of the Thai champion. The speed of the Thai seemed to be the key in round 2 as he picked his moments to strike and let his shots fly in bursts, though that drew fire back from the Japanese fighter. Sato tried to give payback but early on he struggled to land too much clean, with the Thai's movement and speed proving to be a difference maker.
As the bout went on though Sato began to have success with his pressure, and instead of Yoddamrong getting in and out it the was Thai who was being forced backwards under the growing intensity of the challenger, who began to force a tough and tough fighter on the champion.
The bout wasn't either man's most exciting bout, but was certainly a worthy watch a very engaging war that swung one way then the other. A genuine hidden gem and a perfect Closet Classic.
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