With just a few days to go until the anticipated Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight between Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) and Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) we've decided to share 5 of the very best bouts for the title, and it is a title with a long history, date back to the 1960's, well before the WBC and WBA crowned their first champions.
Sadly a lot of the pre-1980's fights aren't ones we currently have access too, however we feel the 5 we're going to share today are really great fights an should help get you in the mood for the violence we're set to get this coming Friday.
(Note - These are listed in DATE order)
Takuya Muguruma (20-1-1, 14) vs Kazuo Osamu (17-4-2, 11) 
Although sadly a forgotten man among Western fight fans Takuya Muguruma was a man who was rarely in a dull fight. Dubbed the "Endless Fighter" Muguruma came to fight and fight hard every time he stepped in the ring. He wasn't the most polished but was a man who threw a lot of leather and later went on to win the WBA Bantamweight title. In his 7th defense of the title he took on Kazu Osamu who had been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses, but came into the ring here with a point to prove, knowing this was likely to be his one and only shot at the title. Together they brought us a pretty damn brutal fight, with round 3 in particularly being thrilling back and forth round. This is high octane stuff from the off, though that was typical of Muguruma fights from the time.
Mark Horikoshi (17-1, 13) vs Naoto Takahashi (15-2, 10) 
When we first thought about doing this article there was one bout immediately put down on the list and that was the sensational 1989 war between defending champion Mark Horikoshi and popular challenger Naoto Takahashi. This bout, still regarded as one of the very best fights in Japanese boxing history, was really something special and managed to thrill everyone at the Korakuen Hall. This one started technically, with the two men finding their range, but picked up rapidly and rounds 3 and were amazing, before the bout found a whole new gear. Sadly neither man would go on to achieve much after this. Takahashi was essentially ruined by wars catching up with him just a few years later whilst Horikoshi would return to the USA, where he born, and go 3-5. Like Takahashi he too was a ruined fighter after this war.
Manabu Saijo (10-1, 7) vs Susumu Toyosato (9-0, 7)
A rarely spoken about fight from 1990 saw the once beaten Manabu Saijo clash with the unbeaten Susumu Toyosato for the vacant Japanese title, which had been given up by the winner of the previous bout. This one was over-shadowed by the previous contest, but the two men fought like a pair of men each looking to leave their man on the sport. It had everything we could hope to see, including a lot of action, a lot of drama and both being men hitting the canvas, in fact both were dropped in round 2. Whilst this isn't the Horikoshi Vs Takahashi bout it is a genuinely sensational fight that at times is uncomfortable to watch, but is thoroughly jaw dropping.
Rikiya Fukuhara (18-1-1, 14) vs Daisuke Yamanaka (18-2, 13)
Another often overlooked bout was the 2006 war between defending champion Rikiya Fukuhara and determined challenger Daisuke Yamanaka who gave us something that was truly spectacular. Coming in to this one Fukuhara was seeming his second defense and he had won his last 9 in a row, with 7 of those wins coming by stoppage. He had been a brutally destructive puncher on the domestic scene and had been one of the men expected to go on to have a lengthy reign and a successful career. Yamanaka on the other hand was riding a 6 fight winning run, with 5 of his wins by stoppage. Both men were known to be heavy handed, both had strong domestic followings and together they had the crowd in a frenzy almost from the off. The in ring mentality of the two men, and their styles gelled perfectly giving us a brutal battle where huge shots were landed time and time again. This was a damn brutal bout that deserves to be seen.
Note - The sound for this video is oddly in mono, so those watching with headphones will sadly only hear sound in one ear.
Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) vs Yusaku Kuga (17-3-1, 12) II
To end this we're looking at a super recent fight from 2019, but a super brutal bout between two men who had already shared the ring in an hellacious struggle a few years earlier. Coming in to this the champion was the all action Ryoichi Tamura, a tough nut who threw a lot of leather and despite not being a big puncher always came into the ring looking to have a fight. In the opposite corner was former champion Yusaku Kuga, who had previously beaten Tamura when he held the title. Given their first bout was a brutal war we knew we expected something similar here in their rematch. The two men didn't disappoint in a bout that had intense action, drama and jaw dropping determination. This was brilliant, and for those tuning in on Friday this is well worth a watch.
The Super Bantamweight division is one of the most interesting at the moment in terms of the fighters in it, though has sadly been lacking in good match ups. Hopefully that will change in the near future as some of the notable fighters, finally, face off against each other.
Here we have looked at some of the best in the division with short profiles on 9 of the best in Asia as well mentions of other top Asian's in the division and the other top names in the division world wide.
Other Asian fighters at Super Bantamweight worth making a note of are-
Yukinori Oguni (14-1-1, 4)-Oguni is a technically well schooled boxer-mover who is the current Japanese champion and a former OPBF title holder, who lost the belt by stoppage to Wake. Although talented he is a light puncher and will likely struggle to get beyond Japanese level again. Despite that he will be in interesting fights, especially at domestic Japanese level.
Yasutaka Ishimoto (26-8, 7)-Another Japanese level fighter who is often in entertaining bouts is Ishimoto, who is best known for out pointing Wilfredo Vazauez Jr. Ishimoto has come up short in a couple of Japanese title fights but is expected to get a third shot shortly and it could well be his last. If he manages to claim a domestic title then that will be a perfect way to close out his career.
Yusaku Kuga (11-1-1, 7)-One beaten Japanese prospect Kuga is a talented and capable fighter who is expected to reach OPBF level in his career. Aged 24 he's not viewed as a sensational prospect but certainly as a man with real promise. Promoted by Watanabe his future is bright but it's hard to see his route to the top considering his domestic competition. Saying that however we do like a lot.
Hikaru Marugame (5-0, 3)-Marugame is another Japanese prospect and one who is tipped to go a long way. The 25 year old turned professional last year and has looked fantastic at times though has yet to have a serious test. That comes on October 19th when he takes on Jonathan Baat in a really testing 8 round bout at the Korakuen Hall. A win there would be a big statement for the youngster.
Kongthara KKP (7-0, 5)-We'll admit we don't know enough about Kongthara to really make a comment about how good he will be, but so far he has been really impressive and already holds wins over Shingo Kawamura and Nouldy Manakane. The talent he has shown has already impressed and he's already proved his stamina and ability over 12 rounds. One to keep an eye on.
As well as the Asian fighters there are also copious non-Asian fighters in the division worth noting.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0, 10)-The best of the division, by some margin, is Cuban sensation Rigondeaux. Unfortunately Rigondeaux is a fighter who has proven to be hard to match, had to advertise and almost impossible to keep onside. Plenty of fans will accuse fighters of ducking him though comments from his own manager make it seem like he's actually as tricky outside of the ring as he is on the inside. An on song Rigondeaux is a pure boxer, but sadly his time may be running down.
Carl Frampton (21-0, 14)-Northern Irishman Frampton is regarded by many as the clear #2 in the division. He's a boxer-puncher with a lot of talent, a growing fan base and a combination of skills, speed and power. In a recent bout fans saw Frampton being dropped twice, in what was his US debut, those knockdowns saw some question his chin, and ability, but he did win the bout and has continued his unbeaten run. It's now thought that Frampton will be fighting Wake before the year is out in what really looks like one of the best bouts the division could give us.
Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17)-Mexican warrior Santa Cruz once looked like one of the sports emerging stars. A 2-weight world champion with an exciting style he was supposed to be a throw to the Mexican fighters of old. Unfortunately a lot of the shine and good will he had built in his career has been damaged in the last couple of years as he's gone through a number of WBC defenses against weak opponents. Although he's tough and does throw a lot of punches the belief seems to be growing that he's a divisional cash cow but one with out the ability to face the other top fighters.
Scott Quigg (31-0-2, 23)-WBA “regular” champion Quigg was often seen as the weakest of the champions. In recent times however he has looked impressive and his recent blow out of Kiko Martinez was one of the most impressive wins of 2015. He's looking for a showdown with Frampton though it does seem unlikely that we'll see that one as mandatory obligations and promotional spats are standing in the way. Hopefully we'll see Quigg fight another top name in the near future, and Donaire is said to be the man his team are targeting in what would be an intriguing contest.
(Images courtesy of www.boxrec.com apart from the images of Kubo, courtesy of Shinsei Gym, and Kim, courtesy of the KBF)
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