Japanese-Korean fighter Ryol Li Lee (20-4-2, 10) fought between 2005 and 2013 and although he didn't have the most distinguished of careers he was a fairly notable figure on the Japanese and Asian scene. In fact he even held the WBA Super Bantamweight title. Whilst his world is reign was a short one, with him losing it in his first defense, he certainly left a mark on the sport.
Rather than going in hard on the utterly weird time the WBA Super Bantamweight title had around 10 years we're instead here to talk about the 5 most significant wins for... Ryol Li Lee. Unlike some fighters featured in this series he's not the most well known, or the most successful, but he did score some solid wins before his career wound down.
Hiroyuki Enoki (July 18th 2009)
The first win of Lee's we're going to talk about came in the Summer of 2009, when he faced the then 28-1-2 (20) Hiroyuki Enoki. Coming in to this bout Lee was 12-1-1 (7), 27 years old and needed to make a statement to move his career forward. Enoki on the other hand was just 9 months removed from a world title fight, losing to Chris John, and 15 months removed from a draw against Takahiro Ao. Despite being the less proven and less experienced fighter Lee would do enough to take a split decision over Enoki and claim a world ranking. This was the win that put Lee on the track to a world title fight, and helped move him forward. In fact this one win did more for his career than the previous 12, combined.
Hisashi Amagasa I (June 5th 2010)
In February 2010 Lee claimed the Japanese Featherweight title, taking a close decision over Kazunori Takayama, and typically that would have been included in this type of list. That however was a close win over someone who never really went on to do anything afterwards, and never really did a lot before Lee beat him. Instead it's worth talking about Lee's first defense, which was was something worthy of noting. That was against future world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa, who Lee took a clear decision over to retain the belt. The win saw Lee retain the Japanese title and take another step towards a world title bout, which came later in 2010.
At the time of this bout Amagasa was best known for his upset win on the domestic scene over Manabu Fukushima. In the years that followed Lee's win, we saw Amagasa claim the Japanese and OPBF Featherweight titles, beating Lee in a rematch, and then go on to face Guillermo Rigondeaux, putting the Cuban down twice. This was a win that aged brilliantly. That's the opposite of Lee's title win over Takayama however, which was little more than stepping stone for Lee's career against someone who was never more than a footnote in Japanese boxing history.
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (October 2nd 2010)
Around 4 months after Lee's win over Amagasa he finally got a shot at a world title, as he dropped down in weight and took on WBA Super Bantamweight champion Poonsawat Kratingdeanggym. Poonsawat had won the title a year earlier, when he stopped Bernard Dunne, and then defended it in Japan against Satosho Hosono, with a decision, before stopping Shoji Kimura in his second defense. He was returning to Japan in hunt of his third defense as he took on the unheralded Lee. Despite being the under-dog Lee would use his foot work and long reach brilliantly to prevent the hard hitting Thai from dictating the tempo in the way he usually did. After 12 rounds Lee was the winner on all 3 cards as he claimed the biggest win of his career. This wasn't pretty, it wasn't exciting, but it was a career defining win for the Japanese-Korean and a genuinely notable upset, in what was a close and competitive bout.
Rikiya Fukuhara (August 6th 2011)
Sadly Lee's reign with the WBA Super Bantamweight title was a short one, lasting less than 4 moths. In his first defense he was dropped 3 times on route to losing a wide decision to Akifumi Shimoda. Following that loss he bounced back with a bout against former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Rikiya Fukuhara. At the time Fukuhara was struggling for form, and had lost his two previous bouts, however with Lee himself losing the WBA title he needed to bounce back just as much as Fukuhara. What ended up happening was Lee got straight back to winning ways as he stopped Fukuhara in 5 rounds to rebuild some momentum and get his career back on track, with a win over the popular, and explosive, Fukuhara.
Sadly for Lee he would lose the momentum of this win just 5 months later, when he was beaten by Shoji Kimura.
Ryo Takenaka (June 11th 2012)
With Lee's career stumbling, following losses to Shimoda and Kimura in the space of 12 months, he knew he needed a win when he went into his 2012 bout with Ryo Takenaka. The talented Takenaka had been beaten 4 months earlier, with a technical decision against Masayuki Wakimoto, but had never been stopped. That was until Lee stopped him in 5 rounds. On paper this win, at the time, wasn't too noteworthy but just over 3 years later Takenaka won the OPBF Featherweight title, and racked 3 defenses of the belt. As with the win over Amagasa this was one that aged well, rather than being a significant win at the time.
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