One of the most amazing things about the Japanese domestic scene is the sheer number of barn burners we get from it. Whilst not all the bouts are great there does seem to be a much higher proportion of them than we realise. Today we look at a sensational Japanese Light Middleweight title bout from 2001. This isn't the prettiest bout you'll ever get, but is something very special, and very exciting.
Hiroyuki Yoshino (34-8-1, 25) vs Crazy Kim (8-2, 7)
In one corner was veteran Hiroyuki Yoshino, a hard hitting and experienced fighter who had been a professional since 1985. His 16 year career had had some ups and downs but the highs really were high and included a lengthy reign as the Japanese Welterweight champion, from 1988 to 1992, a world title fight in 1993 and an OPBF title reign in 1996. He had walked away from the sport for 2 years, but bounced back and in 2000 he had won the Japanese Light Middleweight title, beating Joya Kawai, to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Although not a world beater Yoshino was a dangerous puncher, with a brutal left hand, and an aggressive mentality. He made for fun fights and with a suspect chin he was very much a stop or be stopped type of fighter.
Crazy Kim, also known as Toshiharu Kaneyama, was a similar type of fighter to Yoshino in terms of his mental attitude. He looked to make fights fun and exciting, he was aggressive, heavy handed and always looking to take his opponents out early on. In his first title fight he lost a decision to Akira Ohigashi, in 1999, and then lost a second title bout the following year to Joya Kawai. Although he was a novice, with just 10 fights, he had proven he belonged in the title mix, especially with the bout against Kawai which was really close and competitive. He had proven his power on the lower end of domestic level and at 5'11" he was much taller than Yoshino. He was also coming into his physical prime, at 26 years old, much younger than the 33 year old Yoshino, who had taken considerable punishment in his 43 fights up to this point.
From the opening second it was clear that neither man was looking to go to the scorecards. Kim came out swinging huge looping hooks, that were thrown with really bad intent. Yoshino, seeing he was in against someone trying to take his head off began tried to see out the storm early on from the more imposing challenger. Kim didn't care about Yoshino's reputation and dropped him in the first round as his power took it's toll on the champion. Two huge right hands sent the champion down, but he would get to his feet. Yoshino managed to see out the round, but was in all sort of trouble and looked unable to cope with the brutish aggression of the challenger.
The work rate and effort Kim put in to the opening 3 minutes was incredible and whilst it did slow in round 2, which was no surprise, it was still clear he didn't want to hear the final bell. Yoshino however began to find some space, and as Kim slowed Yoshino began to land some shots of his own. Sadly for Yoshino his own shots seemed to bounce off Kim, who may have slowed his out put but still landed the more eye catching single shots, including a solid looking uppercut with about 45 seconds of the round left.
Round by round the experience of Yoshino began to show, that however didn't mean the bout got dull, round 3 was a fantastic round, with both men landing some booming head shots, before Kim pushed Yoshino over. The push was a clear sign from Kim of his physically strength, but only moments later Yoshino dropped him.
With both men dropped in the first 3 rounds it was clear both men could be hurt but neither man wanted to come up short. Their heart and desire couldn't be questioned and that was shown the remainder of the fight, as both men took some heavy leather, dug deep to keep the punches flowing in what was a thrilling, if some what crude, shoot out.
Please note - Some rounds are missing from the TV cut of this war, but the bout is very much worthy of a watch.
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