Last week we covered Yong Soo Choi in this series and today we cover one of his major rivals, Takanori Hatakeyama (24-2-3, 19) in this week's "The 5 most significant wins for...". Fans outside of Asia perhaps aren't too familiar with Hatakeyama, and that's a shame as the guy was all action, exciting and in a number of great bouts from the 1990's and early 00's.
Hatakeyama, like Choi, is one of favourites for the Closet Classic series, and fans of that series will be fully aware of how amazing Hatakeyema's fights are and how much fun he is to. Sadly though we're not talking about his most fun bouts here, but his most significant wins. Even with that in mind we still have some tremendous bouts to share of Hatakeyama's, and really is one of those fighters who always gave fans value for money, and massive amounts of excitement.
Shigeru Kotani (February 13th 1994)
We're starting with an obscure one, and in fairness there was a few obscure ones we were considering including Hatakeyama's often replayed KO win over Jae Woon Park and his OPBF title win over Jung Chil Choi. Despite being obscurity Hatakeyama's 1994 win over Shigeru Kotani saw Hatakeyama win the All-Japan Rookie of the Year and certainly helped increase his profile in Japan, and put him on track to success. Not only did the win see Hatakeyama win the Rookie of the Year tournament, at 130lbs, but also claim the MVP, really highlighting his potential. It's worth noting that he was also just 18 years old at this point.
Koji Arisawa (March 29th 1998)
A little over 4 years after winning Rookie Hatakeyama fought Japanese champion Koji Arisawa, in a bout that was described as the biggest Japanese title fight in history. The bout was only a national title fight but it was massive news in Japan pitting two hugely popular and unbeaten fighters against each other for the Japanese Super Featherweight title. The bout was shown live on Japanese terrestrial TV and was held at the Kokugikan. Whilst the bout was highly hyped before hand it easily outdid all expectations and turned out to be a sensational bout, with Hatakeyama stopping Arisawa for the title, and launching himself into a second world title bout.
Yong Soo Choi II (September 5th 1998)
A moment ago we mentioned the win over Arisawa launched Hatakeyama into a second world title fight, that came against Yong Soo Choi. In 1997 Hatakeyama and Choi had fought to an amazing 12th round draw. Hatakeyama had bounced back from that set back by beating Arisawa and then getting a second shot at Choi. The second Hatakeyama Vs Choi bout was almost as good as their first, though tactical changes from Hatakeyama, who realised that he had to use more movement and use his feet more, proved vital. After 12 rounds Hatakeyama took a razor thin win to claim the WBA Super Featherweight title and become a world champion for the first time. Understandably after this win, and the win over Arisawa, he had become one of the top names in Japanese boxing.
Gilberto Serrano (June 11th 2000)
Sadly Hatakeyama's reign as the WBA Super Featherweight champion was a short lived one. He would make only a single successful defense, as 12 round draw with Saul Duran, before losing the belt to Lakva Sim and retiring. His retirement was a short lived one though and less than a year later he returned to the sport and stopped Gilberto Serrano to become the WBA Lightweight champion. The in ring action wasn't as memorable as in some other Hatakeyama bouts, but the contest was still dramatic, with Serrano being dropped in rounds 5 and 7 before being dropped 3 times in round 8. Given the circumstance, of Hatakeyama retiring, unretiring and then moving up in weight, this was a huge win, and lead directly to his next major win.
Hiroyuki Sakamoto (October 11th 2000)
After beating Serrano to claim the WBA Lightweight title we saw Hatakeyama state he wanted to defend against fellow Japanese fighter Hiroyuki Sakamoto. This would be Hatakeyama's first defense of the title and came against the nearly man of Japanese boxing. Sakamoto had come up short in several other world title fights, including one to Serrano that saw Sakamoto dropping Serrano twice in the opening round before swelling around his eyes forced the bout to be stopped. This was brilliant, brutal and thrilling with Sakamoto eventually running out of steam and being stopped early in round 10. For fans of tragic boxing stories Sakamoto's career, and life, is worth reading upon. As for Hatakeyama he was never quite the same fighter after this and wouldn't win another professional bout.
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