Often in boxing if we see two men clash in a thriller we want an immediate rematch. Sadly quite often when we get them it's not quite as good the second time around. The punishment of their first bout, and experience of sharing the ring with their opponent, came make a rematch feel somewhat disappointing given how good the first was. Sure we get the odd bout where the sequel is just as good, it's rare for the sequel to be better than the first.
Today we look at rare bout where the rematch was probably better, and where the experience of the first bout between the two men was a positive. It allowed both fighters to tweak their game plans, but not negatively impact the bout, and like their first contest the two men took part in exhilarating war.
Yong Soo Choi (24-2-1, 14) vs Takanori Hatakeyama (21-0-1, 17) II
In 1997 Yong Soo Choi had travelled over to Japan to record his 6th defense of the WBA Super Featherweight title, fighting to a draw in a 12 round thriller with Takanori Hatakeyama. That was their first bout, and that was a strong contender for the 1997 Fight of the Year. It was a thriller, with the two men landing huge shots through out in what was an instant classic.
Following their first contender Choi had return to Korea and made his 7th defense of the title, stopping Gilberto Serrano in Seoul, in 9 rounds. That win over Serrano had seen Choi being behind on two of the score cards be he finally got to a tiring Serrano with some huge booming hooks. After dropping Serrano Choi knew he had his man there to take when the bout resumed and he quickly dropped him a second time. Despite the win the result really covered over what had been a rather poor performance from Choi, who had looked slower, older, and wilder than he had in previous fights. He had looked like someone who had lost something, though it was little surprise given the sheer number of wars he had been in during title reign.
Choi wasn't the only getting a win in after the first bout between the two men, with Hatakeyama scoring one of his career defining wins, a stoppage over Koji Arisawa in what has been dubbed "the biggest Japanese title fight". Whilst Choi had looked looked poor in his interim bout Hatakeyama had looked the opposite. He had looked like a man who had learned from 12 rounds with Choi and he really shone in his win over Arisawa, in what is a real must watch for fans of this series. Now aged 23 Hatakeyama had matured a bit more, physically, from their first bout and had knew he could go 12 with Choi, having done so in their first bout.
As anyone who saw their first will know, these two matched each other well. Both were tough guys, heavy handed, liked to let shots go and had staggering wills to win. Stylistically they were made for each other. Although Hatakeyama was just that little bit quicker Choi was physically more imposing and that made their first bout so compelling. It turned out their second bout would be just as good.
The first round wasn't as thrilling as it had been in their first bout. Hatakeyama seemingly aware that he could outbox Choi, if he stuck to a game that involved creating distance and using his speed. Of course trying to use his legs was always going to be a draining strategy, especially if he couldn't get Choi's respect. With that in mind he knew he'd have to hold his ground sometimes, and when he did the bout came alive, with the two men launching huge bombs at each other.
Despite the tweak to Hatakeyama's style it actually only helped the bout, as it limited the amount of time the two guys were too close, to work, and reduced the number of clinches.
As the bout went on the action got more and more violent, with round 8 being absolutely sensational, and one of the best rounds of 1998. And that wasn't even the end as the two men continued chip away at each other and knock absolute lumps out of each other.
We won't ruin how this ends, but like their first bout, if you've never seen it you owe yourself the opportunity to watch this thrilling, punishing and hotly contest war between two men who were just amazingly well matched and made for absolute barn burners!
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