In the early 1990's there was a flurry of great bouts in Japan featuring exciting, though flawed, fighters. The country had a number of fighters who were in thrilling contests fighter after fight, due in part to their flaws. Today we feature a bout with one of those flawed yet thrilling fighters as he went blow to blow with a tough, rugged Mexican warrior, in what was a bit of a forgotten classic from late 1992.
Katsuya Onizuka (20-0, 17) vs Armando Castro (39-12-2, 34)
The charismatic Katsuya Onizuka was hugely popular in the early 1990's due to his aggressive style, his unique personality, his good looks and his interesting style, both in and out of the ring. He wasn't ever the best boxer, or the greatest fighters, but his limitations, aggression and power made his bouts must watch contests. In April 1992 he won the WBA Super Flyweight title, taking a narrow win over Thai foe Thanomsak Sithbaobay, filling a vacancy that had been left by Khaosai Galaxy. Just 5 months later made his first defense, stopping Kenji Matsumura, before taking on former Khaosai Galaxy foe Armando Castro.
With a 39-12-2 (34) record Armando Castro didn't look like he belonged in the ring at world level. He was however a nightmare to go up against He was rugged, powerful, physically strong, aggressive, and a really under-rated fighter who pressed forward no matter what. Technically he was limited, but made up for those limitations with his desire, power and hunger. Despite his record he had he had gone 18-1 (13) in his previous 19 bouts, with the sole loss during that run being a decision defeat to the aforementioned Khaosai Galaxy.
What we ended up with when these two got in the ring was something brilliant. From the off Castro was looking to use his bull like strength and power to take out Onizuka. The Japanese champion was forced onto the ropes and found himself on the wrong end of Castro's heavy hooks. It wasn't the most polished or crisp of offensive work from Castro, but he very much fought like a man looking to just smash his way through Onizuka.
Onizuka wanted to show off his boxing skills but had to see off the storm, and yet fight back. Whilst his focus was on not taking too many shots he was also trying to slow down the Mexican who refused to back off. This made a brilliant, action packed dynamic between two men who both had heavy hands, very different style and and both were happy to let shots go.
This might not be too well remembered in the west but it's one that every fan should visit, whether you've seen it before or not. This is a great under-rated closet classic. It's violent, it's exciting and it sees both men landing huge shots through out. A really good, heavy handed action bout...with a young Steve Smoger as the third man in the ring!
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