Between 2000 and 2012 Filipino puncher Rodel Mayol (31-6-2, 22) proved himself as one of the most fearsome fighters in the lower weight classes. He was tough, he was rought, he was aggressive and a genuinely brutal puncher. Although never the most polished, or the the most technically well schooled fighter Mayol was a little monster, with real belief in his punching power and his physicality.
For those who haven't seen much of Mayol, his career is cetainly worth a look at. He was in a number of thrilling bouts, he always had the power to turn bouts around, but he could also be out boxed, he could be hurt, and more notable than anything else, there always seemed to be drama with his career. He was the sort of fighter who was worth watching, because you never really knew how his bouts were going to end.
Today we're going to look at the 5 most significant wins for... Rodel Mayol, and strangely this is a lot easier to do than it usually is. Mayol might have more than 30 wins, but he really does only have a handful that stand out as being genuinely meaningful.
Pigmy Kokietgym (August 31st 2001)
The first win of note for Mayol is one that aged well, rather than being too meaningful at the time, and that was his 2001 win over Thailand's Wicha Phulaikhao, better known as Pigmy Kokietgym.
Going in to the bout the then 20 year old Mayol was looking to score his his 8th straight win whilst the 19 year old Pigmy was looking to build on the momentum he was starting to generate himself. It was clearly a bout where Mayol was favoured, but few would have expected him to do an absolute number on the hungry Thai teenager, who was destroyed in 5 rounds. Pigmy was down 5 times, as Mayol's power proved to be legitimate. As mentioned this one aged well, and over the 20 years that followed Pigmy would become a multi-time world title challenger, and a consistent face in the world rankings. Notably this win would have meant even more had Pigmy managed to win one of his world title bouts.
Genki Onaka (December 7th 2003)
In January 2001 Mayol made his international debut, defeating Japanese novice Ken Nakajima. It took well over 2 years for him to again use his passport and fight on the road, as he returned to Japan and faced off with Genki Onaka the then OPBF Minimumweight champion. Onaka was looking to record his first defense of the title, whilst Mayol was looking to record a 15th straight win, and pick up the traditionally significant title Oriental title.
Going in this looked like a genuine test on paper for Mayol, but proved to be a coming out party for the Filipino who stopped Onaka in just 149 seconds! This was Mayol putting down a marker on the regional scene and doing so with an impressive, destructive, cameo of a performance. Impressively he would defend the title 3 times in around 18 months, proving his dominance over the Oriental scene and prove he was ready to take a step towards a world title bout.
Lorenzo Trejo (January 28th 2006)
Having won and defended the OPBF title Mayol needed to move towards a world title bout. In January 2006 he got the chance to take huge strides towards getting a shot at the green and gold belt as he took on veteran Lorenzo Trejo in a WBC eliminator. The bout, which took place in Mexico, saw the then 24 year old Mayol looking fighting outside of Asia for the first time, and look to extend his lengthy unbeaten record.
Mayol made a positive impression almost immediately, dropping Trejo in the opening round. Trejo managed to bounce back from the knockdown but was brutally finished off in round 4, from a vicious uppercut, that secured Mayol a shot at WBC champion Eagle Den Junlaphan just over 3 months later. The win was brutal, eye catching and genuinely did set Mayol up for a career changing opportunity. Sadly for the Filipiino however he was unable to over-come Junlaphan, losing a clear decision to the Japanese based Thai.
Edgar Sosa (November 21st 2009)
Easily the biggest and most significant win of Mayol's career came in November 2009, in what was also one of his most controversial bouts, and he was involved in several controversial bouts. That bout came against excellent Mexican fighter Edgar Sosa, the then WBC Light Flyweight champion and was held in Sosa's homeland of Mexico.
At the time Sosa was one of the most under-rated fighters on the planet. At the time he was sporting a 37-5 (21) record, had won his last 25 bouts in a row, with 14 of those wins coming by T/KO, had been the WBC champion for over 2 years and a half years and had scored 10 defenses of the title.
The hard hitting Mayol started aggressively, he seemed to know that he had to get to Sosa quickly, put the Mexican under pressure, and not let Sosa settle. It was the right gameplan to start the fight. In round 2 however controversy struck as a huge clash of heads left Sosa in agony on the canvas. He got up with a swollen and bloodied face and he seemed genuine buzzed. The bout could, genuinely, have been waved off there and then as a No Contest, or a technical draw, but Sosa regrouped, gathered himself and Mayol had a point deducted. Almost as soon as the bout restarted it was clear Sosa wasn't right and Mayol went after him. Sosa managed to survive the early pressure, but it wasn't long until Mayol's power caught him, sending Sosa down with a left uppercut. Sosa got to his feet but stumbled. The ref gave him the count but he was spent and soon afterwards Mayol sent him to the ropes and unleashed a big flurry, forcing the referee to wave off the bout.
It was a monster win, on foreign soil, for Mayol. Though one marred in controversy from the headbutt, and one that saw Mayol become a much hated figure within Mexican boxing.
Julio Cesar Miranda (May 13th 2012)
Mayol's reign as the WBC Light Flyweight champion didn't last long. He made just a single defense of the title, in an ugly technical draw against Omar Nino Romero in a bout that had a confusing and messy finish. He then lost the title to Romero in a rematch between the men, with Mayol being deducted two points for headclashes in that bout. Sadly that loss was pretty much him done as a world level fighter. He was high risk, low reward and a nightmare to fight. The only real standout win following his world title loss came in 2012 when he took on former world champion Julio Cesar Miranda.
Miranda was certainly a heavy handed fighter, but also a crude fighter who had seen much better days. He had shown he belonged at world level, but losses to Moruti Mthalane and Brian Viloria were signs that he was best at Minimumweight, where his size and strength were key. Against Mayol, fighting close to the Super Flyweight limit, the heavy handed Miranda was just unable to hold his own with the Filipino who took a clear decision over the Mexican.
This result was the last win of for Mayol, who would fight once more after this, losing to Juan Carlos Sanchez in an IBF Super Flyweight world title bout, and retired afterwards. As for Miranda, this was the start of the end for him, and he went 5-7-1 after this bout before retiring himself.
Through boxing history we've seen so many amazing boxers, great fighters and those with otherworldly abilities. For us however they aren't, be default, the ones we most enjoy. Instead we prefer the fighters who get in the ring and put on a show. The fighters who come to fight, and put in a great every time they are in the ring. Win or or lose, they put on a show. Typically those fighters are aggressive fighters, with their offensive being their best form of defense and their game plans being built around pressure and output.
One such fighter was Pornsawan Porpramook (28-6-1, 17), aka "The Tank".
Pornsawan wasn't some brilliant boxer mover. He was some counter punching genius. He wasn't a slippery fighter, who got in and got out, whilst making the opponents question themselves. Instead he was a rugged, aggressive fighter who put in some amazing performance during his career. Sadly his most memorable performances came in losses, notably to Akira Yaegashi and Ryo Miyazaki, but those losses helped enhance his reputation as a tough man who loved a tear up.
Today we're not going to focus on how fun he was to watch however, and instead we're going to bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Pornsawan Porpramook
1-Juharum Silaban (November 28th 2001)
The significant win for Pornsawan came in just his second professional bout and saw him defeat Indonesian novice Juharum Silaban in Sa Kaeo, Thailand. On paper this looks like a nothing bout, very early in the careers of both men, and in reality it meant little to Silaban, who was stopped in 3 rounds and never really got his career going afterwards. It was however a meaningful win for Pornsawan.
The win saw Pornsawan claim his first professional title, the PABA Minimumweight title. Unlike some fighters with the PABA belt Pornsawan made the belt his, and went on to make 7 defenses before vacating the belt more than 2 years later. At the point where he vacated belt he had amassed more defenses than anyone else, he had given the title real value, and had proven the PABA belt had fighters wanting to hold it. Prior to him winning it the previous 7 reigns had seen a combined 9 defenses. He helped legitimise it, and that is genuinely something worthy of note.
Interestingly Pornsawan would later claim the PABA title for a second time, running up 8 defenses in his second reign, to make 15 career defenses of the PABA title, more than any other fighter in the titles history.
2-Sonny Boco (April 11th 2002)
Sadly not all wins are significant for positive reasons and sadly Pornsawan's third professional win was certainly significant for negative reasons as well as a positive one. It was a 5th round KO win over previously unbeaten Filipino fighter Sonny Boco, a win that saw Pornsawan move to 3-0 (3).
We'll start with the positive reason, this bout marked Pornsawan's first defense of the PABA title and was also his international debut, with the bout taking place in Cambodia. It was also one of only two wins Pornsawan had on foreign soil, we'll talk about the other one a little later.
Sadly though this bout left Boco with a severe brain injury, which ended his career and saw him requiring two major operations to save his life. This is sadly a win for Porpramook that was significant mostly for a negative reason, that completely changed the life of another young man.
3-Nico Thomas (August 1st 2002)
In just his 4th professional bout Pornsawan took on former IBF Minimumweight champion Nico Thomas, from Indonesia. The highly experienced Thomas was well beyond his best at this point, aged 36 and more than a decade removed from losing his IBF world title, but still had name value and recognition regionally in the 105lb division. He was someone that was being as a stepping stone by many of the emerging Minimumweight's of the era and in his previous 4 bouts he had shared the ring with both Eagle Den Junlaphan and Muhammad Rachman.
Given that Thomas had been stopped in 4 of his previous 6 bouts there was no real surprise that Pornsawan stopped him, doing so in a round, but the real significance here was Pornsawan stopping a former world champion in just his 4th professional bout. This was a clear statement from his team that they were confident in their guy to be a star, even if he was just picking up a win against a "name" here. A very faded name.
4-Sonny Boy Jaro (March 29th 2006)
After starting his career with a number of notable wins Pornsawan's career then took the same type of road as so many Thai fighters. That's the road of activity, over quality, and he regularly defended the PABA title against C and D level visitors from the Philippines Indonesia and even South Africa. It was the part of his career that was all about building up his in ring identity and letting him have ring time. That portion of his career saw him face only a single opponent of note. That was future WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro.
At this point in his career Jaro was picking up minor titles, having won the GAB title and a regional IBF title, but didn't look like he was really going anywhere. He was, essentially, a journeyman fighter, taking fights where he could and when he could, and had fought in both Indonesia and South Africa the previous year. Pornsawan would go on to stop Jaro in 5 rounds, scoring a win that at the time didn't really stand out much. Of course Jaro would later bounce back from this loss and, in 2012, beat the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam for the WBC Flyweight title. This was certainly a win that aged well, even if it meant nothing at the time.
5-Muhammad Rachman (July 30th 2011)
When Pornsawan beat Jaro in 2006 he moved to 16-0 (13) and was 28 years old. he would then continue to tick over until 2007, when he got his first world title fight and lost to Donnie Nietes. Soon after he would lose to Oleydong Sithsamerchai and Edgar Sosa, before suffering a draw in a rematch with Oleydong. He had gone from 20-0 (15) to 22-3-1 (46), with 4 set backs in world title bouts. He was also 33, an old age for a Minimumweight. Then he got one more shot as he took on WBA Minimumweight champion Muhammad Rachman over in Jakarta.
Rachman had won the title in a massive upset against Kwanthai Sithmorseng in April 2011 and was now making his first defense against the struggling Pornsawan. Despite being the champion, and being at home, Rachman wasn't able to do enough to keep his title. Instead Pornsawan took home a razor thin majority decision, to win the title, scoring his career defining win in the process and finally, at the 5th time of trying, taking a world title.
That win, Pornsawan's second on foreign soil was, by far and away, the highlight of his career. The defining moment for the Thai Tank. Sadly however the success was short lived, as he lost the title in his first defense, less than 3 months later, to Akira Yaegashi in a gem of a fight from late 2011. After that he struggled to get any moment going and retired after a huge upset loss in 2013 to Rey Loreto, hanging up the gloves with a 28-6-1 (17) record.
One Asian country that doesn't get a lot of attention when it comes to professional boxing is Indonesia, despite the fact it's had several world champions and numerous contenders over the years. With its huge population it could be a sleeping boxing giant of the future, though will need serious investment to really tap into the potential there. Despite the unfulfilled boxing potential of the country it has had some notable fighters, including former 2-time world champion Muhammad Rachman (65-13-5, 35), who had a remarkable career for a Minimumweight.
As a fighter Rachman fought between 1993 and 2016, a long carer by anyone's measure but an even more impressive one given he was a Minimumweight and he debuted when he was already in his 20's. Not only is that impressive, but he was also fighting in world title fights into his 40's!
Today we're here to take a look back at "Roch Breaker's" career and look at the 5 most significant wins for... Muhammad Rachman
Nico Thomas (July 4th 2000)
As already mentioned Rachman debuted in 1993. The early portion of his career is pretty forgettable in all honesty. The only opponent of any note early in his career was future Faisol Akbar, who beat Rachman twice, Mongkol Charoen, who also beat Rachman, and former world title challenger Domingus Siwalette, who lost in a world title bout on his recorded debut. In 200 however that all changed when the 28 year old Rachman took on former world champion Nico Thomas.
At this point in his career Rachman was 33-5-2 (14) yet had no ones of real note on his career, having pretty much learned to box on the job. Thomas, on the other hand was a former IBF Minimumweight champion, though he was more than a decade removed from his world title reign. He had struggled in the years since his title loss and entered this bout with a 29-15-4 (18) record. Knowing it was his big chance to become one of the new faces of Indonesian boxing Rachman made an immediate impact, stopping Thomas in the first round. This was the win that put him on the boxing map after years of battling through lower tier talent.
Jin Ho Kim (June 10th 2001)
Rachman kept busy after the win against Thomas, scoring a string of low level wins and picking up the IBF Pan Pacific title at the end of 2000. We had to wait almost a year until he faced someone else of note, and that was in the form of Korean fighter Jin Ho Kim.
Kim was no world beater, but he had mixed at a good level, notably facing the then WBA Minimumweight champion Chana Porpaoin in 1995. He was a credible fighter having previously won the Korean national title, and later challenging for the OPBF title. For Rachman however he was another roadblock and the Indonesian managed to take a 10 round decision over the Korean. Amazingly this win, his second genuinely notable win, came in what was Rachman's 50th professional bout. Talk about a long road to the top!
Noel Tunacao (December 16th 2003)
Unfortunately for Rachman his next win of note came when he was 31 years old, ancient for a Minimumweight, and saw him face off with Noel Tunacao, the brother of former Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao. The bout, held in Surabaya, Indonesia, was a world title eliminator and came in Rachman's 66th professional bout. It was his chance to go from being a local fighter, with the potential of dabbling with regional talent, to a man on the verge of a world title fight.
Knowing his career would legitimately change with a win Rachman fought like he was a man with a point to prove, and dropped Tunacao in round 2 with some nasty body shots. Tunacao beat the count, but it was clear he wasn't fit to continue, with the fighter himself shaking his head at the referee.
Not only was this win a world title eliminator, assuring Rachman a shot at the IBF title, but it was also a win against a former world title challenger, with Tunacao having previously fought Hiroki Ioka for the WBA Light Flyweight title. It was also the start of the end for Tunacao, who went 1-3 after this, including a loss to the then WBO champion Ivan Calderon in one of Calderon's very rare stoppage wins.
Daniel Reyes (September 14th 2004)
Having earned his world title fight at the end of 2013 Rachman finally got a shot a shot at the belt 9 months later when he took on Colombian fighter Daniel Reyes. Reyes had won the title a few weeks after Rachman had become the mandatory challenger, and was a very accomplished fighter himself. Not only was Reyes the IBF champion but he was also a former Olympian, competing in the 1996 Atlanta games, and was sporting a 34-1-1 professional record coming in to this bout. He had also avenged his sole defeat, to Roberto Carlos Leyva, in his first defense of the IBF title.
Rachman, fighting in front of his home fans at the Britama Arena in Kelapa Gading, was pushed all the way in this one, but sneaked away with a split decision draw over the Colombian in a very hard to score bout. After 12 rounds the judges cards read 116-116 and 115-114 to Rachman, and 117-114 to Reyes. Interestingly the judges here were from Colombia, Indonesia and Thailand, and all 3 judges had this close, with the Thai judge being the decider as the other two judges favoured their countryman.
This win was certainly a controversial one, but saw Rachman claiming a world title for the first time, at the age of 32 and in his 68th bout.
Kwanthai Sithmorseng (April 19th 2011)
Sadly Rachman's reign as the IBF Minimumweight champion was a short one. He made 3 defenses of the belt, with the most notable of those was a technical draw against Fahlan Sakkreerin, before losing in 2007 to Florante Condes. That started a downfall in his career and saw him struggle for any form, losing 4 of his following 5 bouts. They included a loss in a WBC title bout against Oleydong Sithsamerchai, a TKO loss to Denver Cuello and a loss to a then novice Samartlek Kokietgym.
Despite 4 losses in a row Rachman was, somehow, able to challenge the then newly crowned WBA Minimumweight champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng. For all intents Rachman's career seemed to be pretty much over. He was now 39, taking on an unbeaten champion in what was expected to be an easy first defense for Kwanthai and he had scored just 1 win in the previous 4 years. No one told Rachman he was old, shot and there to lose and amazingly Rachman, some how, stopped Kwanthai in the 9th round, after losing the first 8, to become a 2-time champion in one of the most bizarre results of 2011. The win saw Rachman become the oldest man to win a Minimumweight title and saw him post one of the most over-looked upsets of the last 20 years.
Sadly for Rachman this didn't last long, losing in his first defense, though his career did continue on until 2016, when he retired following a loss to Oscar Raknafa. By then he was 44 years old, a relic by Minimumweight standards.
Korean fighter Ju Do Chun (20-4-3, 11) is not someone that many fans will be familiar with, though he is certainly more than just a foot note in the history of professional boxing. In fact he was one of the first ever Super Flyweight world champions, and was the inaugural IBF champion at the weight, winning the title in 1983. His reign wasn't the best, but with 5 defenses he set the mark to beat. It was, in fact, a record that stood for decades, with no one managing more defenses until Jerwin Ancajas more than 30 years later.
Sadly Chun failed to face the best of his era. Potential bouts between the Korean and the likes of Jiro Watanabe and Khaosai Galaxy, Rafael Orono and Payao Poontarat wouldn't had ended well for him. Despite that he left his mark on the division, and really did play a major role in the division in South Korea.
Sadly Chun's career was a relatively short one, running from 1981 to 1989. Despite that he scored a number of notable wins, and we'll have a look at those now, as we bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Ju Do Chun.
Young Kil Choi II (May 14th 1983)
We start this very early in Chun's career. In his second professional bout, on May 10th 1981, Chun suffered his first loss, losing a decision to Young Kil Choi. That sparked a rivalry between the two men who would clash twice more, in 1983. In their second bout Chun got to avenge his loss to Choi, taking an 8 round points win over his countryman to even the score. This was certainly not a massive win for Choi, especially given what would later come, but was a significant victory over the only man who would beat him during the early part of his career. In fact the loss to Choi was Chun's only defeat until 1985, after he had won the IBF Super Flyweight title.
Chun would also go on to win the rubber bout between the men, stopping Choi in the 9th round, later in 1983.
Hee-Yun Jung (June 26th 1983)
Just months after Chun avenged his first loss he claimed his first silverware, the Korean Super Flyweight title. He did that by stopping reigning champion Hee Yun Jung, who was looking to record his second defense of the title.
Jung had won the belt in 1982, when he defeated Ok Kyun Yuh, and made his first defense in early 1983. He then scored a non-title win, beating future Chun opponent Diego De Villa, before facing Chun himself. Chun wasn't in the mood to let his countryman shine, and instead Chun ended up taking Jung out in 4 rounds to claim the Korean title and take a huge step towards his first world title title bout.
Like many wins in this series this was a victory that aged well. In the years that followed Jung claimed a Korean title at Super Bantamweight and then won the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, which he defended 4 times. Jung would also never suffer another stoppage. This win genuinely does need to be regarded a lot higher than many of Chun's other wins.
Ken Kasugai (December 10th 1983)
After winning the Korean title Chun defended the belt twice before getting on the road for his first bout on foreign soil. That just so happened to be in Japan, against Ken Kasugai, for the newly created IBF Super Flyweight title. Coming in to thus Chun was just 19 years old, he was 13-1-3 (4) as a fighter but had done little to really earn a world title fight. On the other hand Kasugai was 27 years old but had been out of the ring for a while and certainly wasn't one of the leading Super Flyweights. It was more a chance for the IBF to get a foothold in Asia, which they were attempting at the time.
Despite being just a teenage Chun was too good for Kasugai, and the Korea stopped the Japanese local in 5 rounds to claim the world title, and make his mark on the sport. This was, in many ways, the defining victory of Chun's career and the one that put him in line for some much bigger bouts. Sadly the win really didn't age well, with Kasugai never fighting again after this bout.
Prayurasak Muangsurin (January 28th 1984)
Sadly for Chun his reign was packed with poor challengers, who had done little and went on to do little. The one exception to that was actually his first defense which came against Thailand's Prayurasak Muangsurin, a name that some hardcore fans from the era will be familiar with. And with good reason.
Prayurasak Muangsurin was a genuinely talented fighter who had won 12 of his first 13, including a notable win over former WBC Super Flyweight champion Chul Ho Kim, in South Korea. He had also won the Thai Super Flyweight title, and, later in his career, win the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, and challenge for a world title at 122lbs. His record might not be packed with big names, but Prayurasak Muangsurin is, or rather was, a very good fighter back in the 1980's. Sadly for him he ran into Chun who was looking to prove a point, and Chun stopped him in 12 rounds to retain the IBF world title. Sadly following this win Chun's challengers got incredibly poor, such as Diego De Villa and Felix Marquez, fighters who wouldn't have stood a chance on the regional scene now a days.
William Develos (July 22nd 1984)
Although Chun's challengers were poor we do need to find a fifth win of note for him, and with that in mind the one challenger, outside of Prayurasak Muangsurin, worthy of some note was Filipino fighter William Develos.
Develos wasn't a big name but he was an accomplished professional, not something we could say about Chun's typical challengers. Develos was a former OPBF Super Flyweight champion who had beaten Yung-Shik Kim for the title, and had also fought to a draw with Bobby Berna, held a win over future world champion Frank Cedeno, had been very competitive with the often under-rated Eijiro Murata and had beaten former world title challenger Suk Chul Bae. Basically he wasn't a world class fighter, but was a very solid regional level contender. The type of fighter that Chun should have been facing, instead of Diego De Villa, Felix Marquez and Kwang Koo Park.
Despite Develos being a solid fighter he was stopped in 7 rounds by Chun, who recorded his 4th defense of the IBF title. Sadly for Develos this loss was the start of the end for him, and he would go 5-4 after this, suffering 3 more stoppage losses, before retiring in the 1980's.
As for Chun, his reign came to an end less than a year after this win and did so in an historic manner. The Korean was stopped in 8 rounds by Elly Pical in Jakarta, with Pical becoming the first ever Indonesian world champion thanks to this win. That win began Pical's rise to stardom at home, and was a sad ending for Chun's reign. In fact it was the start of the end for Chun, who lost again in his next bout. He then vanished from the ring for 3 years before going 1-1 in a short lived comeback, before retiring for good.
It's rare for a fighter to leave a genuinely big impact in the sport in less than 6 years, but that's what Korean fighter Chan Hee Park (17-4-2, 6) did in his short, but very notable, career. He only fought between 1977, making his debut at the age of 20 with an opening round win over Japan's Chuji Muto, and 1982, when he lost in a notable shock to Filipino Wick Tengam, but fit a lot into that very small window of time. In fact he fit 26 bouts into a career that lasted 66 months and fought 9 times at world level.
Sad for Park he was one of many Korean fighters who was kept too busy, in too many hard fighters, in too short of a time. His 9 world title bouts all took place between March 1979 and February 1981. Seeing fighters fight 9 times in 2 years now a days is incredibly rare, but to see a fighter fight 9 world title bouts in 2 years is even rarer, and it's little wonder he was a shot fighter as quickly as he was. He was a true talent, and someone who could, and should, have had a longer, more successful career. Despite that he still made a very serious impact on the sport and was one of the top Flyweights if his time.
Rather than lamenting what Park could have been we're here today to look at what Park was and what Park did as we take a look at The 5 most significant wins for... Chan Hee Park
Sang Il Jung (October 1st 1977)
We begin with Park's third professional bout, which saw him take on the then 6-0-2 Sang Il Jung. The bout was a tough step up for Park, who had blown out his first 2 opponents, and proved a vital learning experience as the youngster was taken 10 rounds and forced to accept his first decision victory.
This was not only the first time Park had go the distance but was also the first time he had faced a Korean fighter, in fact it was the only time he faced a domestic opponent, and was a very big win domestically, especially given that Jung was the OPBF Light Flyweight champion at the time. It was also a win that aged really well with Jung bouncing back from the loss to become a 2-time OPBF champion and later challenger for the WBA Light Flyweight world title, taking on Yoko Gushiken. A good win at the time, which became better as Jung's career went on.
Miguel Canto (March 18th 1979)
It's impossible to talk about Park without mentioning his career defining victory, which came in March 1979 when he dethroned the legendary Miguel Canto for the WBC Flyweight World title. "El Maestro", as Canto was known, had held the belt for more than 4 years and had racked up an incredibl 14 defenses of the belt. He was, unquestionably, the best Flyweight at the time and one of the divisional greats. Park however put in a performance of a life time, out pointing Park over 15 rounds to dethrone the Mexican sensation.
Sadly for Canto he never managed to really bounce back from this loss, going 4-4-1 after this bout, including a draw in a rematch with Park. He had been a brilliant fighter, but this loss was the start of the end for him and whilst Park was fantastic on the day, there is a case that maybe, just maybe, he was lucky and got Canto at just the right time in his career. Regardless, this was the win that shook the Flyweight division and the win that put Park on the boxing map. It was a star making victory.
Chikara Igarashi (May 20th 1979)
When we look at how crazy Park's career was, particularly his world title reign, we just need to look at his first world title defense. It came 2 months and 2 days after he beat the legendart Canto, and was his 6th bout within a year! Thankfully for Park it wasn't against a top, top level fighter, but was against an often under-rated fight as he took on Chikara Igarashi. The Japanese challenger, had been a professional since 1971 and had had a streaky career, but had won the Japanese and OPBF Flyweight titles before taking on Park in May 1979.
Igarashi wasn't ever looking like he could beat Park, but he certainly gave an honest and genuine account of himself. Igarashi ended up losing a clear 15 round decision to the Korean, but he certainly wasn't there to roll over. Sadly however this was the start of the end for Igarashi, who lost his following 4 bouts before retiring in the early 1980's. For a first defense this wasn't great, but for a first defense weeks after beating Canto we'll certainly not complain!
Guty Espadas (December 16th 1979)
Park's incredible level of activity saw him rematch Park in September 1979 before ending the year with a bout against former WBA Flyweight champion Guty Espadas, who had only been dethroned of the WBA title a 16 months earlier in Venezuela by Betulio Gonzalez, via majority decision. Although no longer a champion Espadas was still regarded as one of the best in the division and a very live challenger for the Korean.
Espadas showed there was still hunger in the tank in the opening round, dropping Park in round 1. He was there and he was hungry. Sadly for Espadas however Park wasn't to be out done, dropping him twice in round 1 and again in round 2 to secure his third defense in 9 months. This was the only stoppage Park had in a world title bout and came in what was a short but thrilling and dramatic bout. Given the atmosphere and the crowd here it was clear Park was a star for Korean boxing. But was already starting to show signs of wear and tear.
Alberto Morales (April 13th 1980)
After beating Espadas in December 1979 the Korean was back out less than 2 months later, when he beat the limited Arnel Arrozal to record his 4th defense and then he took on Albert Morales just 2 months later. This was Park's 6th world title bout in just 13 months. It would also turn out to be his final win at world level.
Morales was nothing special, and he had had mixed results since his early days, with his debut believed to have been in August 1969. Despite not being anything special he had won the NABF and Mexican titles, and had previously challenged for the WBC title, way back in 1973. The perception was that he was past his best, and wouldn't be much of a test for Park. Something that turned out to be right as Park took a clear decision victory over him.
Sadly Park's inability to actually rest between bouts caught up with him a bout later, as he suffered his first loss, being stopped in 9 rounds by Shoji Oguma, with the loss sending Park to 14-1-2 (6). From there his career never managed to rebound and he went 3-3 afterwards, losing in 2 rematches against Oguma, before retiring in his mid 20's. His career should have been longer. It should have been more intelligently managed. It should have been special. Instead we got a glimpse of genius from a young Korean who was shot by his mid 20's. A real shame.
Through out the history of this great sport various fighters have had what we can describe as strange careers, and one such, great case, is that of Malcolm Tunacao (35-3-3, 20) who did things in the reverse manner to many fighters. Unlike many fighters who spend more of their careers to get a world title fight he got an unexpected one less than 2 years into his career, when he was just 22 years old, which he made the most of. His career peaked very early and for many fighters a career like that can be over relatively early.
For Tuancao much of his career was spent chasing a second time at the top and his career would continue on for a further 14 years, though he wouldn't manage to climb the summit of the sport for a second time, despite coming close in 2012.
Despite the rather strange he had, he also had a very worthwhile one, and today we get to take a look at it as we bring you the 5 most significant wins for...Malcolm Tunacao
Medgoen Singsurat (May 19th 2000)
The talented Malcolm Tunacao debuted in August 1998, doing so in a 6 rounder, and he quickly stepped up to 10 rounds, with his third professional bout being scheduled for 10 rounds. In less than 14 months Tunacao had won the GAB Flyweight title, beating Rio Sumampong, and soon afterwards recorded his first defense. By this point he was 10-0 (6) and still a boxing baby. Despite that he was offered a WBC Flyweight title fight in May 2000 taking on WBC and Linear champion Medgoen Singsurat, a 20-0 (12) fighter who had dethroned Manny Pacquiao in 1999 and had already recorded his first defense.
Despite taking a massive step up in class Tunacao did the unthinkable and upset the Thai in Thailand, to claim the WBC Flyweight title, and the biggest win of his career. By far. The Filipino, who was a genuine unknown at this point, looked calm and relaxed through despite being away from home, he looked composed in his big step up and Singsurat had no answer for southpaw stance and movement of Tunacao who looked genuinely class. Tuancao also smartly kept this out of the hands of the judges. He came out hot in round 7 and unloaded bombs on Singsurat from the start of the round, beating the fight out of him, and bending the rules where needed. This was a veteran-like performance from a young fighter fighting on the world stage for the first time.
In many this win seemed like the type of victory that had unearthed a special talent. Sadly though Tunacao's reign was short lived, losing the title 10 months later to a then little known Pongsaklek Wonjongkam... wonder what happened to him...
Kumarnthong Chuwatana (November 19th 2005)
After winning the WBC title so early in his career Tunacao was almost frozen out of notables fights. From his March 2001 loss to Wonjongkam to 2005 there was very, very little of note on his record. Wins over limited veterans or novices were the order of the day and they did little to forward his career, though a win over Kazuyoshi Niki was decent. We had to wait more than 6 years for the next major win for Tunacao and that came against Kumarnthong Chuwatana, not a name we suspect many will know much about.
In July 2005 Kumarnthong won the OPBF Bantamweight title, defeating Japan's Jun Toriumi at Korakuen Hall. Tunacao was his first challenger, and Tunacao dominated the bout, taking a very wide unanimous decision over the Thai, who was, for all intent, a flash in the pan champion. After the bout Kumarnthong went on to do almost nothing in the sport, with a win over Hiromasa Ohashi in 2007 being the only exception. This was however a major win for Tunacao, who claimed his first OPBF title, and opened up new doors for his career. Sadly however Tunacao's reign was short and he lose the belt in his third defense, to Rolly Lunas in 2007.
Seung Suk Chae (February 6th 2010)
It's fair to say the 2009 was a big year for Tunacao who became a sparring partner for Hozumi Hasegawa and later signed with the Shinsei Gym due to that sparring. Despite only fighting once in 2009, his career changed. In a big way. The following year he travelled over to South Korea to take on Seung Suk Chae for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title. At the time Chae was the South Korean national champion and sported an impressive 16-1 record.
Despite being on the road Tunacao out pointed the Korean over 12 rounds, taking a razor thin decision over Chae to claim the OPBF Bantamweight title for a second time, and begin his days as a Shinsei fighter with a title wrapped firmly around his waist. Unlike his first OPBF reign this one wasn't a short reign, and in fact it lead into some of his biggest wins, and some of his most meaningful performances.
Kohei Oba II (July 11th 2010)
During his second reign with the OPBF title Tunacao made sure to make the most of the belt and recorded 3 good defenses. The first of those was a rematch with Kohei Oba, a man he had fought to a draw with 4 years earlier. At this point Oba, dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya", was 27-0-1 (11) and was highly rankedby the WBC. Although the OPBF champion Tunacao was regarded by many as the under-dog, and at 32 years old was thought to be slowing down, an issues against a speedy, technical fighter like Oba.
As it turned out the experience of Tunacao proved vital here. Oba started quick, and looked sharp in the early going. In fact for a round or two it seemed like the speed difference was going to be too much for Tunacao to over-come. And then Tunacao began to turn things around, timing Oba, getting a read on his speed, and finally doing enough to take home the unanimous decision victory.
Impressively this defense, against an unbeaten challenger in Japan, was followed by wins over notable names in Hidenobu Honda and Daigo Nakahiro. Sadly though both of those men were coming to the end of their respective careers.
Christian Esquivel (December 22nd 2012)
More than 2 years after winning the OPBF Bantamweight title, for the second time, Tunacao got the chance to secure himself a second world title bout a chance to become a 2-weight world champion. The only thing standing in his way of the opportunity was Mexican fighter Christian Esquivel, who Tunacao had to face in a WBC world title eliminator in late 2012. Going in Tunacao was ranked #1 by the WBC, whilst Esquivel was ranked #3, though at 35 he knew this would be his last chance. As for Esquivel he wasn't there to make up the numbers, instead he was looking for his second shot, and a chance to rematch Shinsuke Yamanaka, who had beaten him for the title in 2011.
Through the first 6 rounds Tunacao regularly got the better of things, using his southpaw stance and his experience well to control the action.Esquivel was still game however and wasn't there to make up the numbers. Despite being game the Mexican was finally taken out in round 7 when Tunacao managed to hammer him in the corner, sending him to the canvas. The Mexican couldn't beat the count and Tunacao managed to secure himself a world title fight with Yamanaka, who was sat ringside scouting the action.
Sadly for Tunacao his dreams of becoming a 2-weight world champion ended in tears, with the Filipino being stopped in the 12th round by Yamanaka, in what was one of the toughest defenses for "God's Left". After that he picked up 3 low key wins before ending his career, and later being attacked in the Philippines by his then girlfriend.
In recent years Ryota Murata has gotten attention as being the big Middleweight star of Japan, and with good reason having won an Olympic gold medal as well as the WBA Middleweight title. Before Murata however there was another Japanese fighter to make a mark on the Middleweight scene, and that was the heavy handed Shinji Takehara (24-1, 18).
Takehara fought between 1989 and 1996, winning the Japanese, OPBF and WBA Middleweight titles along the way. He lacked major wins of international note, apart from his final victory, but he was still a major force in Asian boxing for most of his career, and even now remains in the sport through a gym he runs in Japan.
Today, almost 25 years after his last bout, we'll shine a light on Takehara and his career, as we bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Shinji Takehara!
Takehito Saijo (October 28th 1991)
The heavy handed Takehara made his professional debut in May 1989, when he beat Masao Tadano. Following his debut he went on an impressive run over the following 2 years or so, racing out to 10-0 (9). He had been hugely impressive, though for the most hard his opposition had been limited, with the only noteworthy name in that run being Biney Martin, who actually took Takehara the scheduled 6 round distance in 1989. Things chance in late 1991 when Takehara, aged 19 at the time, got his first title fight, taking on Japanese Middleweight champion Takehito Saijo, who was looking for his 6th defense of the title.
In Takehara's bout against Saijo fans saw the heavy handed teenage hopeful being given a genuine test, with Takehara having some real questions asked of him. Saijo was out boxed, and out slugged, and out punched, but he was game, he pressured the youngster, pressed forward and tried to use his experience to over-come the young up and comer. Despite a brave effort by Saijo he was unable to cope with the power of Takehara and in round 7 Takehara would dump Saijo on to the canvas, thrice, forcing the stoppage. This was a coming of age performance by Takehara who took some huge steps towards making a name for himself domestically. Interestingly this was only the second time Saijo had been stopped, with his other stoppage being in his debut more than 5 years earlier.
Hisashi Teraji (February 17th 1992)
Whilst winning a Japanese title was a huge deal for Takahara and the early part of his career it's worth noting that he only made a small number of defenses. Despite that he did score some very noteworthy ones. The first of which saw him take on Hisashi Teraji, just 4 months after winning the title. At this point in time Teraji was unbeaten, sporting a 6-0-3 (5) record and was regarded as a dangerous challenger.
Although Teraji was viewed as a danger man for the champion he really posed no threat in the ring to Takehara, who controlled the opening round behind his jab and power and barely took a clean shot from the challenger. In round 2 Takehara rocked his man with a huge left hook and dropped him a few moments later. This was the start of the end and Teraji knocked out only moments later.
This would be Teraji's first, and only loss. Following this bout he went 14-0 (6). Not only that but Teraji would go on to win the Japanese Middleweight and OPBF Light Heavyweight titles during the remainder of his career. Oh he would also have a son, a Kenshiro Teraji, who would go on to become of the faces of Japanese boxing more than 20 years later.
Yoshinori Nishizawa (May 17th 1992)
Another notable Japanese title defense for Takehara came against the then completely unheralded Yoshinori Nishizawa in May 1992, in what was Takehara's second defense. Looking at Boxrec this bout meant nothing, and was a step down from the Teraji bout. In fact Nishizawa's record of 6-5-3 (4) makes him the "worst" of the challengers that Takehara had. There is however a lot more to it than that.
The bout was, as mentioned, Takehara's second defense of the title, it was also the first time he went 10 rounds, something he had to do again 3 months later against Biney Martin, and it was a win that aged well. And we mean really well. In the years that followed Nishizawa would create a legacy of his own. He would win the Japanese Middleweight title in 1997, become a multi-time OPBF Super Middleweight champion an OPBF Light Heavyweight champion, and twice fight for world titles, putting both Anthony Mundine and Markus Beyer on the canvas. This win may not have meant anything at the time, but would go on to become an incredibly meaningful victory for Takehara.
Sung Chun Lee I (May 24th 1993)
After winning the Japanese title Takehara set his sights on bigger and more meaningful silverware. This included an OPBF title, after 4 defenses of the Japanese title he finally got a shot at an Oriental title and clashed with Korean fighter Shung Chun Lee, in the first of two bouts between the men. Boxrec, as it's known to do, has an incomplete record for Lee, though it's not fully known what his record was. What is known is that he entered the bout highly ranked by the OPBF and was reportedly the Korean national champion.
The bout was a genuinely brutal contest. The Korean visitor took bomb, after bomb, after bomb in the early going. Eating massive shots, and refusing to go away. Instead of buckling under the power of Takehara, like so many others, Lee seemed to want to take the fight to the Japanese fighter. Test his gas tank and drown him in the later rounds. It made for a brutal, yet thrilling bout that saw Takehara needing to answer questions about his stamina and toughness later on, with the Japanese fighter being under intense pressure in round 9. In the final moments of round 12 however Takehara did it, and forced the Korean to the canvas, for the 10 count, with Lee's determination and chin finally cracking, after what had been an amazing effort by the visitor.
This bout actually lead to a memorable rematch in 1995, with that bout seeing a rare double knockdown in round 8 before Takehara took another decision over the Korean.
Jorge Castro (December 19th 1995)
Whilst the first 4 significant wins for Takehara are very much Asian centric this one certainly isn't. In fact it is, by far and away, the most notable and the most famous win of his career, and is still probably the most important for any Japanese Middleweight, ever. It was Takehara's 1995 world title win against WBA Middleweight champion Jorge Castro.
Coming in to the bout Takehara had really come a long way. He was now 23-0 (18), he was highly ranked by the WBA, but this was a massive step up in class. He was going from Oriental level to world level and was taking on a world class veteran. At the time Castro was sporting an incredible 98-4-2 (68) record, he had won his last 28 bouts, going unbeaten since a 1992 loss to Roy Jones Jr, and had defended the WBA Middleweight title 4 times, including a 1994 win against John David Jackson that was later named the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. Early on the bout saw Takehara boxing and moving, using his reach to keep Castro at range, the experience of facing Lee seemed to prepare him somewhat for the tactics of Castro. As the bout went on however Castro's pressure began to get him success, and Takehara began to slow, his movement less crisp than it was earlier in the bout. Despite the great effort from Castro it wasn't enough and after 12 rounds Takehara took a close, hotly contest, decision to claim the WBA Middleweight title, becoming the first Japanese fighter to become a Middleweight champion, something we had to wait more than 20 years to see replicated by Ryota Murata.
Sadly Takehara's reign was a short one. He lost the title in his first defense, to William Joppy in 1996, then hung up the gloves whilst still in his mid 20's. Despite that the win over Castro remains one of most significant wins by a Japanese fighter ever, Takehara's name will long live on in the annals of Japanese boxing history, even if his reign was over before it really got going.
It's fair to say that the Philippines has had some true boxing legends, who will always be remembered for what they've done in the sport. Fighters like Pancho Villa, Flash Elorde and Manny Pacquiao are true all time greats whose names will always live on in the sport. Sadly it also has a host of forgotten fighters, who burned out too soon, or failed to build on their big wins. Fighters who greatness at the tips of their fingers but failed to deliver on their potential, with perhaps the most well known of those being Marvin Sonsona. Another fighter who failed to deliver on their promise was the now often forgotten Morris East (20-4-0-1, 12), who fought between 1989 and 1995. He had a short, but explosive career and a controversial one.
East debuted when he was just 15 years old, he became a world champion at the age of 19, he scored the Ring Magazine KO of the year, but less than 3 years later his career was over. His final bout came when he was just 21 years old, ended with him being suspended for a year and never fighting again. He would later become a trainer, but his career in the ring certainly felt like it could, and should, have been so much more.
Although East's career wasn't the longest, and was underwhelming if we're being honest, we still thought we'd take the opportunity to look at his career and share the 5 most significant wins for...Morris East
Boy Masuay II (December 29th 1989)
As previously mentioned Morris East made his debut at the age of 15, doing so on May 3rd 1989 when he beat Jessie Miranda. He would go on to win his first 3 bouts before suffering a 10 round majority decision loss to domestic journeyman Boy Masuay in September 1989, when East was still just 16 years old. It was Masuay who took East's "0" but just 3 months later East got revenge, stopping Masuay in 6 rounds.
Sadly there isn't too much known about these, but knowing that East avenged his first loss is something rather significant, and to have done it by KO just months after, is something fairly notable and a significant achievement for the youngster. Sadly it would be the only loss that East actually avenged, which is a shame as it would have been good to see him face the other 3 men who beat him.
Pyung Sub Kim (February 29th 1992)
It's well known that top Filipino fighters often need to travel to secure the big fights that they need to make a name for themselves. East was no exception and fought on the road 4 times during his career. The first of his international bouts came in early 1992 when he travelled over to South Korea to take on OPBF Light Welterweight champion Pyung Sub Kim. This was not only East's international debut but also his first bout for a notable title. It was also a hell of a fight!
East was dropped early on by Kim, though battled back, gritted it out and went on to drop Kim multiple times en route to a 10th round KO win for the OPBF title. This was a genuine gut check for the then 18 year old Filipino who showed resilience and hunger as well as proving that he wasn't going to be intimidated on the road. Something that would prove vital just a few months later.
Akinobu Hiranaka (September 9th 1992)
Less than 7 months after his OPBF title win East travelled again, this time to face WBA Light Welterweight champion Akinobu Hiranaka over in Japan. The hard hitting Hiranaka had won the world title in April 1992 and was looking for an easy first defense at home, which he expected to get against the 19 year old East. After all East was young, he had been dropped by Kim and had lost 2 bouts by this point. He wasn't a world class fighter, and he wasn't like Edwin Rosario, who Hiranaka had beaten for the title over in Mexico.
The idea of East being an easy opponent for Hiranaka turned out to be wrong. Very wrong. Through 10 rounds this was a really, really competitive bout, with East giving as good as he got against the hard hitting local favourite. It was an exciting bout and it saw East rise to the occasion before landing the punch of his career in round 11, knocking Hiranaka down hard with a thunderbolt left hand. Hiranaka got to his feet but was stumbling as the referee waved off the bout. With the win East became the youngest ever Filipino world champion, at the age of 19, and it seemed, for a moment, that the Philippines was going to have a massive star on their hands. A new sensation. A man for the future. He also won the Ring Magazine KO of the year for the finish here.
As for Hiranaka he would never fight again after this loss, though he currently runs a boxing school in Okinawa.
Outside of boxing this win was massive for East, who got the chance to meet his father after this win, a man he had never seen. He met his father around a month after this victory when he travelled from his homeland to the US, thanks in part to CNN who tracked down his father and helped get them together.
Jeff Malcolm (November 26th 1994)
Sadly the hopes of East being the new star of the Philippines was short lived. Just 4 months after winning the belt he lost it to Juan Martin Coggi in Argentina, where he was stopped in 8 rounds. That would be his last world title bout, and his last bout with major international attention. He did however face a couple of notable fighters, the most notable of whom was Australian veteran Jeff Malcolm in 1994.
Malcolm had begun his career back in 1971, and by the time he fought East in 1994 he had amassed a record of 82-23-10 (25). He had more losses than East had total fights, with East being 17-3-0-1 (11), despite that Malcolm was still regarded as a very solid fighter and he was only a few fights removed from a WBO World title fight at Welterweight. Malcolm travelled over to the Philippines to take on East, who was having his second bout following his world title loss, and the Filipino would go on to take a decision over the Aussie veteran.
Despite being 38 when had this bout Malcolm wouldn't retire until the early 00's, following a loss to Fernando Sagrado, by which point he was a rare centurion with a record of 100-27-11 (36).
Robert Azumah (May 27th 1995)
Having once looked like a hero of Filipino boxing, East's career came to an end when he was in his early 20's and in many ways under a cloud of controversy.
East's final bout saw him defeat Indonesian based Ghanaian born fighter Robert Azumah, by unanimous decision, on a show promoted by Elorde promotions. It was a win that saw East retain the GAB Super Welterweight title, in fact it was the only time he successfully defended a title of any type. After the bout he was suspended by the GAB for a year and decided that he had had enough of the sport, it's politics and those around him.
Following his retirement, whilst still in his early 20's, he moved to the US, and later became a boxing trainer, training the likes of Zab Judah and Nonito Donaire among others.
One of the many forgotten legends of Asian boxing is Kuniaki Shibata (47-6-3, 25), an aggressive Featherweight and Super Featherweight from the 1960's and 1970's. He was a multi-time world champion and featured in 12 world title bouts, in an era before the WBO and IBF made titles fights much easier to get. He was aggressive, exciting, small and, sadly for him, his chin wasn't the best, costing him in 5 of his 6 losses.
Despite some technical and physical flaws Shibata was a legend of his time and one of the few Japanese fighters who had real success on the road, as well as at home. In fact his wins on the road, in Mexico and Hawaii in particular, were some of his most important and career defining wins.
Today we want to shine a light on Shibata as we bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Kuniaki Shibata!
Katsutoshi Aoki (July 5th 1967)
When we talk about significant wins for a fighter we don't always mean the biggest, best or famous wins that a fighter scored. That's certainly the case here with Kuniaki Shibata's 1967 win over fellow Japanese Katsutoshi Aoki. The then 20 year old Shibata entered the bout 13-0 (9) and hadn't really faced anyone of note before taking on 24 year old Aoki, a once touted Japanese youngster. Aoki was coming to the end of his career, despite only being 24, but was a popular, notable fighter in Japan and was well known for his 1963 bout with Eder Jofre and for being a former OPBF Bantamweight champion. He had also shared the ring with a who's who of Asian boxing in the 1960's, including Hiroyuki Ebihara, Kenji Yonekura, Fighting Harada and Takao Sakurai.
Aoki was the first "name" that Shibata fought, and he was blasted out inside a round by Shibata. This was the quickest loss of Aoki's career and was the first "big" win that Shibata scored. It was also, sadly, Aoki's penultimate bout with the popular fighter fighting again the following month before ending his in ring career with more than 60 bouts to his name.
Yasuo Sakurai (April 15th 1970)
Sadly Shibata struggled to really build on the win over Aoki. He struggled to get bouts against notable fighters and ended up losing his unbeaten record in 1968, to Dwight Hawkins, before suffering a second loss in 1969, to Hubert Kang. His early promise was faltering and he needed to get his career back on track. Thankfully for him he did just that in 1970, which was a banner year for the talented, though chinny, Japanese hopeful. A key part of 1970 for him was his April bout with Yasuo Sakurai, for the Japanese Featherweight title.
Sakurai wasn't a star, but he was a hungry fighter looking to secure the biggest win of his career and the Japanese title. He was a similar age to Shibata and a solid southpaw. He was, however, stopped in 10 rounds by Shibata, who scored one of the biggest and most significant wins of his career, claiming his first title and adding some real impetus to his career, in what was his second bout of the year, his second of five.
Vicente Saldivar (December 11th 1970)
Shibata's final bout of 1970 was, by far, the biggest, most significant and most important win of his career and was also an unexpected one as he travelled over to Mexico and took on the legendary Vicente Saldivar at the end of 1970. The talented Saldivar was enjoying his third reign as the WBC Featherweight champion, having taken the title from Johnny Famechon in May and had been unbeaten since 1962, when he suffered the sole loss on his record. Since that loss he had gone 20-0 and had become a genuine great of the Featherweight division.
Despite Saldivar being a great he wasn't good enough, on the night, for an inspired Shibata who out boxed him and ended up forcing the corner to stop the Mexican great between rounds 12 and 13. At the time of the corner stopping the bout the Mexican was down on all 3 cards and had struggled mightily with right hands of Shibata. This win saw Shibata become the second Japanese fighter, in history, to win a world title on the road and the nation's 9th ever world champion.
Ben Villaflor (March 12th 1973)
Despite Shibata's massive upset win for the WBC Featherweight title over Saldivar his reign was disappointingly short. He only managed to record 2 defenses before losing the belt after just 17 months, when he was stopped by Clemente Sanchez in 3 rounds. Another loss just a few months later, to Andries Steyn seemed to suggest that Shibata's career was on the back end. Despite that he revived his career in brilliant fashion in 1973, a year that saw him pick up 4 wins.
The biggest of those 4 wins for Shibata came in March when he travelled over to Hawaii and took on hard hitting Filipino Ben Villaflor for the WBA Super Featherweight title. The bout was a close 15 round affair, though it was one that saw Shibata come out on top of, taking a unanimous decision over Villaflor. This win saw Shibata create history, becoming the first Japanese fighter to win world titles on the road more than once, and becoming Japan's second 2-weight world champion, following the legendary Fighting Harada.
Ricardo Arredondo (February 28th 1974)
Sadly Shibata failed to hold the WBA Super Featherweight title for long, losing the belt in a return bout against Villaflor, with Vollaflor taking him out inside 2 minutes! This was Numata's 5th professional loss, 4th by stoppage, and it was hard to know what he had left in the tank. He and his team however still had belief and just 4 months later he was back in the ring and taking on WBC Super Featherweight champion Ricardo Arredondo. Coming in to the bout Shibata was looking to do something no other Japanese fighter had ever done, become a 3-time world champion. He was also looking to reclaim, for Japan, a title that Arredondo had take from fellow Japanese fighter Yoshiaki Numata and do so in front of 14,000 fans at the Nihon University Auditorium.
The two men fought for the scheduled 15 rounds, but in the end Shibata was too aggressive and too hungry for Arredondo, taking a clear and fair decision. Shibata came out hungry and despite eating a fair number of jabs out worked and out hustled Arredondo.
It was later revealed that neither man was 100% for this. Shibata revealed he had sprained his ankle before the fight and Arredondo cited that he was struggling with the weight. Despite those issues the two men put on a show for the fans in a very exciting bout.
Sadly this was the start of the end for Arredondo, who went 8-13 after this bout. Shibata on the other hand made 3 defenses before losing the belt in 1975. After that loss he had 3 low key bouts at home, winning all 3, before ending his career in the late 1970's.
It's fair to say that many won't be familiar with Korean fighter Yong Kang Kim (26-5, 11), which is a shame as he accomplished a lot and was one of the final notable names of Korean boxing, fighting from 1985 to 1995. Despite never being a major international star Kim was a 2-time world champion a former Korean national champion and a former OPBF champion, and was certainly someone who deserves a lot more attention than he gets now, around 25 years after his last bout.
For those who aren't familiar with Kim he began his career in 1985 in low profile bouts in Korea. Less than 2 years later he went on to win the Korean Light Flyweight title and by the end of 1987 he was also the OPBF champion. Following that he moved up in weight, winning the WBC Flyweight title in 1988. His reign was a short one but he would later claim his second world title, the WBA Flyweight, in 1991. His second world reign was another short one before his career faded out in 1995.
Despite only fighting in 31 bouts an impressive 10 of those were in world title bouts, and 13 of Kim's career bouts were for some form of title, be it world, OPBF or Korean.
With that small overview of Kim's career, lets take a look at the 5 most significant wins for... Yong Kang Kim
Sot Chitalada I (July 24th 1988)
As mentioned above Kim had won the Korean and OPBF Light Flyweight titles in 1987, taking his first two titles in relatively low key contests. In 1988 however he stepped up massively and challenged Thai Sot Chitalada, the then WBC and Lineal Flyweight champion.
The Thai had won the belt in 1984, when he dethroned Gabriel Bernal, and had run up 6 defenses of the belt before taking on the then 16-0 Kim, who was really untested at this point. Despite being untested Kim would step up to the plat and impress, doing enough to earn a unanimous decision over Chitalada for the title. This was a massive win for Kim, but not coming out performance for the Korean fighter, who used the ring smartly, dictated the tempo at times on the outside and really put on a "non-Korean" style performance. This was a typical come forward performance from a Korean fighter but a more cerebral performance from a fighter who knew winning was more important here than impressing.
Leopard Tamakuma (March 5th 1989)
Kim's first defense came 4 months after his title win, and saw him take a clear and wide decision win over the limited Emil Romano, who finished his career in 1994 with a 19-19-3 (12) record. Roman was limited when he got his shot and went 2-12-2 following his loss to Kim. It's fair to say that whilst a first defense is usually significant, this was pretty much a gimmie first defense. His second however was significant and saw him take on popular Japanese fighter Leopard Tamakuma, who was the reigning Japanese champion. Not only was Kim taking on Tamakuma, but was doing so on Japanese soil.
Despite being the away fighter Kim boxed smart, believed in his style of boxing, moved around the ring well, and picked his spots well, as he took a razor thin unanimous decision win against the Japanese fighter. This wasn't a great fight to watch, and again Kim wasn't trying to win the Fight of the Year award, but it was a smart performance, and his first win outside of Korea, in fact it would be his only win away from home. What makes this win even more notable is the fact Tamakuma would later go on to win the WBA Flyweight title, making this a win that aged really well for Kim.
Elvis Alvarez (June 1st 1991)
Sadly for Kim he would lost the WBC title in 1989, losing in a rematch to Sot Chitalada.A second loss in 1989, this time to fellow Korean Yul Woo Lee, was a major set back and a third loss in 5 bouts, this time to Thai legend Khaosai Galaxy, saw his record quickly descend from 19-0 to 21-3 and it seemed like he had seen better days. In 1991 however he got a shot at WBA Flyweight champion Elvis Alvarez, who had won the title with his own win over Tamakuma.
The talented Colombian champion went to Korea with momentum and it seemed like Kim's career was pretty much over. Kim however proved there was still life left in his legs and out boxed Alvarez on route to a close, but clear, unanimous decision to become a 2-time Flyweight champion. Footage of this one is hard to come by, but all 3 card were close, suggesting a competitive fight, but they were all from neutral judges, suggesting a fair result. Sadly for Alvarez there was no rematch for him, and no chance for him to recapture the title, with the Colombian later moving up to Bantamweight, where he challenged Junior Jones in 1994.
Leo Gamez (October 15th 1991)
In Kim's first defense of his second world title reign he took on Venezuelan legend Leo Gamez, who was looking to carve out his memorable career. Up to this point he had only won one world title, the WBA Minimumweight title, and had skipped Light Flyweight in pursuit of become a 2-time champion. He had, notably, had plenty of fame in South Korea, winning his Minimumweight title with a win against Bong Jun Kim, and had twice challenged Myung Woo Yuh for a Light Flyweight title. He was well known, an exciting fighter to watch and he was coming for a title.
As was typical with Kim fights he didn't dominate. The pressure and aggression of "Torito" gave Kim fits through out the 12 round battle, though in the end Kim did enough to convince all 3 judges that he deserved the victory and to defend his title. The judges scores all favoured Kim by 2 points, with two judges scoring the bout 116-114, but it was certainly a tough out for the Korean. It was also a win that aged remarkably well, with Games later going on to win world titles at Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Super Flyweight, becoming the first fighter to win world titles in the 4 lowest weight classes, something that took 15 years for another to replicate!
Jon Penalosa (March 24th 1992)
One thing that was really notable about Kim's bouts at world level was how many of them went to a decision. He lacked power, he lacked aggression, but he knew how to box and he know how to earn a win, doing to repeatedly against good fighters. Surprisingly however his final win at world level, and his second defense of the WBA Flyweight title, saw him score a rare stoppage win. That came against Filipino challenger Jon Penalosa, the brother of Dodie Boy and Gerry Penalosa.
Entering the bout Penalosa was unbeaten in 16 bouts and was looking to follow in the footsteps of Dodie, who was a former 2-weight world champion by this point. He seemed full of confidence coming into the bout, and was certainly not there to play games with the talented, but frustrating, Korean. Penalosa tried to dominated from the center of the ring and had some real success in the first half of the fight. He was, however broken down by Kim early in round 6. With his man hurt Kim didn't let Penalosa off the hook and ended up finishing him later that same round for his only stoppage win at world level.
Sadly Kim would lose his title a few months later to Aquiles Guzman before vanishing from the ring for 2 years. He would return in 1994, losing again, before making a one off appearance in 1995 and calling it a day. As for Penalosa he ruined by this defeat and went from 15-0-1 entering this bout to retiring 15-4-1, losing his following 3 bouts by stoppage. The bout was the start of the end for Penalosa.
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