Through the years the Asian boxing scene has had some legendary world champions, who will go down in the annals of time as some of the true greats. The likes of Fighting Harada, Khaosai Galaxy, Flash Elorde, Jung Koo Chang and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to name just a few. It's also had it's share of forgotten champions, and fighters who got lucky, taking a title an never replicating the performance that took them to the top.
One such fighter is the often forgotten Shigeo Nakajima (13-5-1, 7), who won the WBC Light Flyweight title more than 40 years ago and rarely ever gets mentioned in any conversations at all. He was tipped for big things when he turned professional but only the hardcore of the hardcore, outside of Japan, will even recognise his name.
Sadly for Nakajima his reign as a world champion was a very short one, lasting less than 12 weeks. He was, for all intents a fighter who was in the right place at the right time. He's a fighter who got that one big win, but else his record is a hard one to decipher.
With that in mind we've decided to take a look at the 5 most Significant wins for... Shigeo Nakajima...and this is among the most frustrating in this series, as Nakajima really doesn't have many stand out wins.
1-Beaver Kajimoto (December 14th 1976)
The first win of real significance for Nakajima came in December 1976 when he took a big step up in class to take on Beaver Kajimoto in his 4th professional bout. Up to this point Nakajima had been facing novices, and fighters with low level experience, nothing to match his own 95 bout amateur career. Just 5 months after his debut he took on the highly experienced Kajimoto, who had had 50 professional bouts and had twice fought to a draw in bouts for the Japanese Flyweight title. Although not a world beater Kajimoto was a legitimate player on the Japanese scene, and Nakajima defeated him in his 4th professional bout. This was a win of real value for Nakajima, and should have been a sign of things to come, though sadly it wasn't.
2-Koichi Maki (June 21st 1977)
A really under-rated win came in the summer of 1977 when Nakajima narrowly beat Koichi Maki. The bout was Nakajima's third 10 rounder and this he really had to work for his win with Maki battling hard against the then unbeaten Nakajima. Coming in to the bout Maki had ambitions of his own and had won the 1974 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Flyweight. Despite having 7 losses to his name two of those had come to Yoko Gushiken, and he had been very competitive in a lot of his defeats, as he was with Nakajima. For Nakajima this bout served as a true gut check and a sign that he could dig deep and battle hard. Given this was only his 6th professional bout this was a great victory for the youngster, and was made to look even better when Maki became the Japanese Flyweight champion just 9 months later.
3-Kazunori Tenryu (August 23rd 1977)
Nakajima's third bout of note came just months after his win over Maki. Whilst Maki would go on to win a Japanese title Kazunori Tenryu was the then Japanese Light Flyweight champion, and he had held that title since March 1975. Tenryu had challenged for the WBA Light Flyweight title, losing a split decision to Jaime Rios, and had made 8 defenses of the Japanese title. Nakajima took him out in just 3 rounds, getting the Japanese boxing world really excited about his potential. Sadly for Nakajima this wasn't a title bout, and was fought above the Light Flyweight limit, but it was still a very solid win for him, very early early in his career.
4-Hong Soo Yang (November 6th 1979)
By the summer of 1979 Nakajima's record had fallen to 9-2-1 (6), with losses to Bernabe Villacampo and Hwan Jin Kim in 1978. The good run he had early on was over and he was struggling. After those losses he would score a couple of easy wins before stepping up once agin. In that step up he faced Hong Soo Yang, an experienced Korean who was the then OPBF Flyweight champion with 3 defenses of that title. The bout was a hotly contested 10 rounder, though, as he had against Maki he dug deep and edged out a close bout to secure his 12th professional win and take a huge step towards a world title fight.
5-Sung Jun Kim (January 3rd 1980)
Just 2 months after beating Yang we saw Nakajima have his career defining moment, as he faced off with the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Sung Jun Kim. The Korean had won the title in 1978, dethroning Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, and had made 3 defenses before travelling to Japan to face Nakajima.
For the bout Nakajima had been trained by Joe Kouizumi and the tactics and performance were spot on, with Kim taking a clear win over the Korean to win the title. It was the first time Nakajima had gone more than 10 rounds, it was the first time he had fought for any kind of title, and it was the only time, in his career, that he scored a legitimate top level win. Sadly it would also be the last win of his professional career.
Sadly for Nakajima his reign would end on March 24th 1980, losing a close decision to Hilario Zapata. A rematch with Zapata resulted in another loss for Nakajima, who returned to the ring in May 1981 and was stopped by Nobuyuki Watanabe, before being retiring on the back of 3 straight losses. He had reached the pinacle, and then crashed back down to earth, to end what had been a truly under-whelming career, that had promised a lot, but sadly under-delivered.
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