We all have fighters we're personal fans of, that we feel go over-looked and don't get the attention and love they should. There are so many amazing fighters through the history of the sport, that it can be easy to over-look them, and never go back.
With that in mind the guys at Asian boxing have been tasked at trying to highlight some of those fighters, as they answer the question:
"Who... should every fight fan go and check out?"
The question came with 2 rules. Each one of the guys was allowed to name two fighters, and the fighters in question all had to be retired (they will be answering a similar question about active fighters in the future). With those rules in mind, lets look at the suggestions put forward!
Lee-"I'm going to pick two Korean fighters here, both of whom are among my personal favourites.
The first is Light Flyweight legend Myung Woo Yuh, who was just so much to watch and made offensive, pressure fighting look like an art form. Yuh was strong and tough, but it wasn't those qualities that made him a must watch. Instead it was his incredible work rate and the overall excitement of his fighters. He climbed into the ring to fight and he unleashed punches like some kind of perpetual punching machine. It would be easy to just say he threw a lot of leather, but that wasn't true. He didn't just throw a lot, but he landed a lot. He seemed to know where he was in the ring, and despite throwing, a lot, he rarely missed. There was some bizarre magic going on with his fights, where his punches were some how attracted to his opponents. He was an offensive genius. One of the greatest offensive fighters ever. I know most, including Yuh himself, would say Jung Koo Chang , was better but I always preferred watching Yuh.
Given my first pick was Yuh I don't think I need to explain that I like offensive fighters! With that in mind my second pick is former Featherweight Young Kyun Park, who was just so, so much fun. Dubbed the "Bulldozer" he really did fight like a bulldozer. Technically he flawed, very flawed, but he was all action and a marauding offensive force who came forward, threw a lot of heavy leather and just, well, bulldozed through people. His reign WBA Featherweight world title reign, from 1991 to 1993 was short in terms of time, but it was a really busy reign with 8 defences in total. He beat some top fighters during his time, including Antonio Esparragoza, who he took the title from, Eloy Rojas, Seiji Asakawa and Koji Matsumoto, and always put on a show. A forgotten legend!"
Takahiro-"I only have one pick this week, but I think it's a good one! Naoto Takahashi. The prince of the reversal. The former 2-weight Japanese national champion. The man who encapsulated what boxing meant to me! The man who I can enjoy watching any time.
Naoto Takahashi fought from 1985 to 1991, fighting just 23 bouts. But from those 23 bouts there was so many instant classics. His bout with Mark Horikoshi is one of the best bouts to ever take place at Korakuen Hall, and is the must watch bout of his. It's amazing. But it's not a one off great bout. His second bout with Mitsuo Imazato and his first bout with Noree Jockygym are amazing. Even his less memorable bouts, like his second bout with Tadashi Shimabukuro and his first bout with Mitsuo Imazato were brilliant action clashes.
Takahashi was a man known for boxing with his heart, not his head. His career was short because he took a lot of punishment, retiring due to a brain injury, but the way he fought appealed to me so much. He gave fans value for money. He gave his all. He won my boxing heart. Amazing fighter. If you've never seen him, go watch him. Now!
Oh, I have to make 2 choices? Okay! Fine! My second choice is Hozumi Hasegawa! The sensational 3 weight world champion.
There are lots of reasons to watch Hasegawa! Like Takahashi he often fought with his heart, rather than his brain. He was a smart fighter, when he wanted to be, but often had a fight when he didn't need to, which always made me a fan! Even at the end of his career, in his final round against Hugo Ruiz, he managed to let the fighting spirit show as he fought off the ropes. Another reason is his record and the perception that Hasegawa was feather fisted. He wasn't! He was actually a huge puncher, who showed his power at world level, stopping Veeraphol Sahaprom and Vusi Malinga among others. His power was freakish, and was powered by his speed. He was a dazzling fighter to watch. A speed demon with scary power, a very good boxing brain, and a heart that told him to fight! Fight! He was also just a very, very good guy!"
Scott-"I've decided to pick two very different fighters, one for excitement and one for technical brilliance.
The exciting fighter I want every one to watch is Takanori Hatakeyama, though it was a really hard choice between him, Lakva Sim and Yong Soo Choi who were all around at the same time and all involved in some amazing bouts, many between each other. I've gone with Hatakeyama however as as its not just his wars that are great but he also has some other highlights.
If you're going to watch great bouts with Hatakeyama involved you need to watch his two wars with Yong Soo Choi, his bouts with Koji Arisawa, Gilberto Serrano, Hiroyuki Sakamoto and Rick Yoshimura along with his loss to Lakva Sim. If you just want a highlight to watch his KO against Jae Woon Park is one of the most brutal KO's ever scored.
Honestly though you can't go wrong with fights featuring Sim or Choi if you've seen all of Hatakeyama's.
As for technical brilliance, I suggest everyone goes and watches Gerry Penalosa in action. The fantastic Filipino is one of the best technical boxers from any part of Asia, ever. He was intelligent in the ring, and did so many things incredibly well. His technique was brilliant, his understanding of the sport was on another level to many out there, and did the little things that so many fighters ignores. His balance was tremendous, his ability to read range was brilliant, he was accurate, didn't waste much of anything and was incredibly tough. Too tough for his own good at times.
Sadly whilst Penalosa was fantastic he was also an incredibly unlucky fighter. There are so many fights that could, and probably should, have gone his way. Sometimes he was to blame, he was bit too cautious at times, and didn't go all out to win the judges over on foreign soil. But other times he was robbed, such as the deplorable split decision loss against Eric Morel.
For fans wanting to see a technical genius, incredible skills and a fighter who got by without the freakish traits of a Manny Pacquiao or Nonito Donaire. He was the sort of fighter that every fight fan should watch and enjoy. He's not flashy, he's not oozing charisma, and his fights weren't always the most enjoyable to watch, but he was a genuine boxing genius. A brilliant boxing mind, and a man who showed that skills genuinely do pay the bills."
"Who... from the history of the Light Flyweight division, would you have liked to have seen fighting today?"
Last week we looked at which fighters during the history of the Super Flyweight division we would have loved to have plonked into today's boxing scene.
The idea was a fun one, and we came across a number of interesting answers as we looked at some of the legends of the divisions. This week we're doing a similar idea though moving down the scales to 108lbs, to answer a very similar question.
"Who... from the history of the Light Flyweight division, would you have liked to have seen fighting today?"
Lee: "There are two obvious choices for me, and I can't split them. Jung Koo Chang and Myung Woo Yuh.
Of the two men I think Chang was the better fighter, the more exciting, and the more skilled. Him in today's boxing scene against the likes of Hiroto Kyoguchi, Felix Alvarado, Kenshiro Teraji, Elwin Soto and Carlos Canizales would have provided a lot of amazing action. So many thrilling fights. Sadly however I think Chang would have been a short term fighter in any era. He famously retired when he was just 25, and whilst I think his career would have been prolonged in today's boxing world, with fewer fights per year, his out of the ring activities would have caught up with him.
Yuh on the other hand was the longer term option. He still looked really good in his later bouts, and had a more serious professional side to him. His style would have also gelled amazingly with the modern day guys and I think he would have faced more of the top guys than Chang and he would have travelled for more of the big fights. Neither man was a huge fan of using their passport, but I see Yuh as the type of fighter who would have gotten on board with DAZN more than Chang.
Either man in today's world would have been amazing. I'd have loved to have had either in this golden era of Light Flyweights".
Takahiro: "Yoko Gushiken. There is no other answer for me, Yoko Gushiken. I think Gushiken wouldn't have been able to have such a long reign in today's world but I think he would have been less active, wouldn't have burned out as quickly as he did and would have hada much longer career had he been around now. He would also have been able to fight some amazing fighters.
One of Yoko's biggest issues was he came along with the division was too new. There wasn't enough top fighters in the division in the 1970's for him to beat a lot of amazing fighters and this was a shame. If he fought today he would have suitable opponents, big name fights, and his style would have been so good to watch. Sign me up for Yoko Gushiken Vs Sho Kimura!
Easy answer. Yoko Gushiken."
Scott: "I'm going in a slightly different direction to the other two guys. They have both selected legends, and are looking at the world title picture. I'm instead going to go with Yo Sam Choi. If Choi was still fighting Korean boxing would still be relevant, and Choi wouldn't have passed away in the sad way that he did.
Choi isn't "legend" like like Chang, Yuh and Gushiken, but he was one of the last fighters who cared about Korean boxing, and one of the nations last shining lights in the sport. I would have loved for him to have been around now, for him to have been relevant in 2020, and for him to be given opportunities to showcase his skills in the US. I don't think he would have held his own with the top fighters of today, but he would have been great on the Oriental title level, and as a regular contender knocking on the door at the top.
Also I genuinely don't imagine the various medical issues that cost Choi his life being repeated in 2020.
I would have love Korean boxing to be big now, and Choi would have been ideal. His backers seemed to fail him so often that I think he would have travelled willingly and flown the Korean flag around the world. He would have been the figure head for Korean boxing now."
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