When we discuss some of the unluckiest fighters in history the name of Kiyoshi Tanabe (21-0-1, 5) needs to come up in conversation. The fighter had proven his ability at the 1960 Olympics, winning a bronze medal, and turned professional in 1963, debuting at the age of 23. He climbed through the rankings, despite his trainer leaving him to train Korean fighter Ki Soo Kim, and ended up on the verge of a world title fight before a detached retina forced his retirement. At that point in time he was still in his mid 20’s and had only recently begun working with legendary trainer Eddie Townsend.
Despite unfortunately ending his career as one of boxing’s biggest “what if’s?” of the 1960’s, and potentially even 1970’s, Tanabe still managed to have a solid professional career that included a number of solid wins. With that in mind let us bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Kiyoshi Tanabe.
1-Jet Parker (August 21st 1964)
Early in his career Tanabe had a number of very respectable wins, including victories over Katsuo Yachinuma and Eishiro Iwaya. For us however the first win of real note was his victory over Filipino fighter Jet Parker. Parker was only the second international opponent that Tanabe faced, coming just 11 days after he had beaten journeyman Leo Zulueta, and was a good, solid 10 round test for Tanabe against a very game fighter. Parker would later go on to win the Filipino Bantamweight title and notch several notable wins himself, including 2 against Bernabe Villacampo.
This was certainly a win that aged well, and put Tanabe in good stead going forward, and Parker was certainly no push over, boasting a 15-1-1 record coming into this bout, whilst Tanabe was 6-0.
2-Ric Magramo (August 8th 1965)
After notching some more solid wins over domestic talent, like Akashi Namekawa, eishiro Iwaya for a second time and Kenichi Iida it was clear that Tanabe deserved another good international opponent and that saw him take on the criminally underrated Filipino Endrikito Magramo, aka the original Ric Magramo. Prior facing Tanabe in 1965 Magramo had challenged twice for the OPBF title, had gone 10 rounds in the UK with Walter McGowan and 10 rounds with Hiroyuki Ebihara in Japan, and had won the Philippines Flyweight title. He was a solid competitor and asked questions of Tanabe, who took a 10 round decision win, as he had done over Parker a year earlier.
3-Akashi Namekawa II (October 25th 1965)
We mentioned Akashi Namekawa’s name a few moments ago and he was notably one of the biggest rivals for Tanabe, with the two men clashing 3 times. The first of those came in earlier 1985, when Namekawa was the Japanese Flyweight champion but the two men were clashing in a non title bout. The second, some 9 months later, was for the title and as with their first bout Tanabe took a decision over Namekawa, with Tanabe claiming his first, and only, title as a result. This win saw the unbeaten Tanabe move to 14-0 (5) and it seemed clear he was on the track to bigger and better things though there were question marks over his lack of stopping power.
4-Akashi Namekawa III (March 28th 1966)
In his first defense of the Japanese title Tanabe met with rival Akashi Namekawa for the third, and final, time. This time Tanabe had a point to prove, having gone the distance with Namekawa in the first 2 bouts between the men. Surprisingly Tanabe went on to stop Namekawa in the second round, ending a run of 4 decision wins. This was a definitive statement from Tanabe, and saw him stopping a man who had never been stopped before hand, and would never be stopped afterwards. In 38 bouts this was the only time Namekawa had been finished.
Interestingly this would be one of just 2 defenses of the Japanese Flyweight title by Tanabe, who suffered a draw in his second defense against Yuzo Narumi in October 1966.
5-Horacio Accavallo (February 20th 1967)
We suspect everyone who knows about Tanabe’s career knew what was going to be the fifth win here and that was his 1967 win over the then WBA Flyweight champion Horacio Accavallo from Argentina. The brilliant Accavallo had held the WBA title since beating Katsuyoshi Takayama for the then vacant title in 1966, and had defended it against Hiroyuki Ebihara and Efren Torres before facing the highly regarded Tanabe in a non-title bout. What was expected to be an interesting bout was not expected to be an absolute drubbing for the champion, who was stopped in round 6 after being given 2 counts and left a bloodied mess. The supposed light punching Tanabe, who had begun teaming with legendary trainer Eddie Townsend, had dominated the Argentinian great and became the first, and would be the only, man to stop Accavallo.
Not only was this first stoppage loss for Accavallo but it was only his second career loss, and the first since a decision loss to Salvatore Burruni in 1959. Following that loss Accavallo had gone 48 bouts without defeat.
Sadly after this bout issues with Tanabe’s eyes forced him to retire and saw him miss out on a rematch for the title. A rematch he would have been a huge favourite for given how one-sided this first bout between the men had been.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces