When we talk about great rivalries we often talk we tend to talk about trilogies, and we've had some amazing ones over the years. Today we have a look at the second bout in one of the most action packed trilogies in Asian boxing history, and amazingly all 3 bouts took place in a little over 24 months. Sadly we've been unable to hunt down the first part of the trilogy but given how good bouts 2 and 3, which were both world title fights, were we can only assume the first was every bit as rough, violent and entertaining as the rematches.
Yong Soo Choi (18-2, 12) vs Yamato Mitani (7-1, 6) II
Korean fighter Yong Soo Choi is a fighter with a remarkable career that ran from 1990 to 2017, thanks to a short comeback that included 2 fights when he was in his mid 40's. He suffered 2 early career defeats but went on a lengthy unbeaten run. That run saw him score notable wins, including a win over Yamato Mitani in the first bout between the two men 1994, and a huge TKO win over Victor Hugo Paz, in Argentina to become the WBA Super Featherweight champion. In his first defense of the the title he returned to Japan to give Mitani the first of their two rematches.
For those who have never seen Choi before he was one of those rare fighters who was simply made for TV. He was aggressive, tough, strong and threw a lot of punches. He was technically quite limited, and could be out boxed, but he always seemed to make fights into a war, which made him such a must watch fighter.
Mitani on the other hand was a former amateur standout, a multi-time national amateur champion with over 100 amateur bouts. He was tipped for big things, despite a loss to Choi in his 5th professional bout. Following his loss to Choi he had gone on to win the Japanese and OPBF Super Featherweight titles to earn his second bout with Choi, Like the Korea Mitani was a made for TV fighter. Technically he was really good, but all too often made things tricky for himself with rough house tactics and willingness to ignore his smart movement and footwork. He was, in some ways, comparable to Arturo Gatti in that he had bouts he could have made a lot easier for himself, had his brain managed to over-rule his heart. Though had he managed to think his way to wins he'd be less well remembered by fans today.
In their first bout Choi had taken a decision over Mitani and it was clear that Mitani wanted to avenge that loss here, and not only equal the score but also take the title form Choi. What we ended up getting was a rough, exciting, battle between two rugged and tough guys that seemed all too happy to wage war at close quarters, banging in punchers, clashing heads and trying to outman each other.
Despite often lacking in terms of refined technique the bout was an all out war between two incredibly tough guys and even the dirty tactics, of both, seemed to lend it's self more to the excitement and action, rather than taking anything from the bout. It seemed less like the two fouling to just foul but instead bending the rules in their desire to win.
This is tough one to score but an easy one to enjoy.
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