The Japanese Super Bantamweight scene is one of the most deep and interesting scenes out there, and it has been for years with great fight after great fight after great fight. One of the things that has stood out has been the competitiveness of those fights, and we have been getting a really consistent run of fantastic, competitive, back and forth fights. The division really has been pouring out some absolute thrillers over the last few years, both in title bouts and none title bouts. Today we go into the Closet and draw out a brilliant Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight from 2016, and it really is a lost modern classic.
Yasutaka Ishimoto (28-8, 7) vs Gakuya Furuhashi (18-7-1, 8) II
In August 2015 Yasutaka Ishimoto, best known by US fans for his bouts in Macao against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr and Chris Avalos, scored a razor thin win over Gakuya Furuhashi in a thrilling 8 round bout. The result of that win was a Japanese title fight for Ishimoto who would narrowly beat Yusaku Kuga in a thriller to claim the vacant Japanese title. After winning the belt he would make his first defense against Furuhashi, who had fought to a draw in a previous title bout against Yukinori Oguni.
Fans outside of Japan may have heard of Ishimoto but not many will have seen him, outside of his Macao fights. To those in Japan however he was a hugely popular domestic level fighter and a man who had some of the noisiest fans in the sport at the time. When he fought the Korakuen Hall was packed, loud and had an even louder more excited atmosphere than usual. Although Ishimoto wasn't a world class talent, or a banger, his following was massive, and his style was nothing short of thrilling, with every fight being an action packed brawl.
Furuhashi wasn't quite a popular as Ishimoto, though like Ishimoto his style was based around action, brawling and fighting at a high pace, trading blows and engaging in a really fun stylistic match up. It was a style suited to fighters with more power, but one he used and one fans enjoyed. Like Ishimoto he was popular, and was popular, in part due to his ability to get involved in a tear up.
With two fighters who enjoyed a war facing off, with history from their first bout, it's self a thriller, we were expecting something special here. And it delivered!
The first round was high paced feeling out round, that got better and better as the round went on. The crowd buying into the action with applause and cheers almost from the first noteworthy punch. Through round two we were beginning to see a high tempo contest fought at mid range, both guys firing off jabs and trying to follow them up. It was a fight that suited Ishimoto and one that Furuhashi knew he had to change, and change he did stepping up the pace, and then being punished on the inside. He knew that for him to win he had to grit it out and turn it into a war, and by the mid rounds that was exactly what had happened, with Furuhashi raiding on the champion.
From there on the bout just became something special with grit and determination driving Furuhashi on, as he looked to win the title and avenge his prior loss to Ishimoto whilst Ishimoto himself sought to break down the challenger and in what was becoming a hotly contest fight. The crowd were cheering on the action, supporting a great fight and there was hardly an empty seat in the Hall as it began bouncing.
With Furuhashi pressing in the second half of the fight the it seemed like he could, potentially turn things around as the men began exchanging combinations of headshots.
In the end one man would stay standing, but both would walk out of the ring with their reputations enhanced and fans desperate to see more of both fighters, who had let it all hang out in a forgotten yet brilliant modern day war.
Please note - The sound used in this video was subdued due to the recording method, though the image should be excellent.
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