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.
Between 1985 and 1990 Korean fighter Yul Woo Lee (19-3, 10) embarked on a short, but exciting and successful career as a talented Light Flyweight and Flyweight. He's not a name that many international fans will be too aware of, but he is someone who is worthy of attention and is one of the few multi-weight Korean world champions.
After making his debut in 1985 Lee, known as "Hot Pepper", raced through the ranks, and won the WBC Light Flyweight title in 1989, in his 18th professional bout. His reign was a short one, but he would win the WBA Flyweight title less than a year later, before ending his career after losing in his first defense to Leopard Tamakuma.
Following his retirement Lee went on to run a boxing school before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly Lee passed away in 2009, at the age of 42, from his cancer.
With Lee's memory and career in mind, we've decided to take a look at the 5 most significant wins for... Yul Woo Lee
Romy Navarrete (April 19th 1987)
We start going through Lee's most significant wins by looking at one that aged well, and is criminally under-rated by pretty much everyone, and that was his 1987 win over Filipino fighter Romy Navarrete, the younger brother of Rolando Navarrete.
It's fair to say that Romy Navarrete is not the well established name that his brother was, however he was no easy out, and managed to win titles at domestic level and later the Oriental level, winning the OPBF Flyweight title in 1989. He was also not an easy man to stop, as Greg Richardson and Luisito Espinosa both found out. Lee however stopped Navarrete in 7 rounds in 1987, to move to 10-0. This win aged really well with the Filipino winning the OPBF title just 7 fights later.
Armando Ursua (December 13th 1987)
Lee's second win of note came just 8 months after he stopped Navarrete and saw him take out former world title champion Armando Ursua from Mexico, in what would actually be Ursua's final bout. The Mexican veteran was well past his best, and was 31 years old with over 50 bouts to his name, but he still had name value and had been a world champion in 1982, when he beat Hilario Zapata for the WBC Light Flyweight title.
Not only was Ursua a former world champion but he was also a man known in Asia. He had lost the WBC title via close decision in Japan and had then gone 10 rounds with Jung Koo Chang, and later Dodie Boy Penalosa. For Lee to not just beat Ursua, but to stop him, was a genuine statement and only the 9th stoppage loss of Ursua's long career. This was a cynical bit of match making, and a smart win for Lee and his career.
German Torres (March 19th 1989)
Sadly Lee's winning run came to an end in May 1988, when he was upset by Miguel Mercedes, aka Miguel Nagashima, who went on to fight for the newly created WBO Light Flyweight title in March 1989. Mercedes lost to Elvis Alvarez in the title bout and just 16 days later Lee got his won world title shot, taking on Mexican veteran German Torres, the then WBC king.
Lee, unlike Mercedes, made the most of his world title shot and ended up breaking down Torres in the 9th round to claim the WBC Light Flyweight title and become a world champion in his 18th bout. Torres, fighting 73rd time, showed his toughness and experience but it wasn't enough to survive with Lee who fought like a man determined to make the most of his big chance. Whilst this was, clearly, a big personal win for Lee it was also huge for Korean boxing given that Torres had won the title 3 months earlier in South Korea against Soon Jung Kang, who retired following the bout. Torres had also previously beaten Jong Kwan Chung, and had gone the distance 3 times with Korean legent Jung Koo Chang. Notably this was also the first time Torres had been stopped since 1977, when he suffered a TKO loss to Rocky Mijares, in what was Torres' 10th professional bout. Sadly for Torres this was the start of the end for him and he would go 4-2-1 afterwards, never competing anywhere close to world level after this bout.
Yong Kang Kim (November 25th 1989)
Lee's world title reign was a short one, losing the belt in his first defense to Humberto Gonzalez in June 1989. Just 5 months after losing his title he was back in the ring and took on the then 19-1 Yong Kang Kim. Although not a huge name himself in the West Kim was a really successful fight and coming in to this one he was a former WBC Flyweight champion, who had narrowly lost the belt to Sot Chitalada just a few months before he faced Lee.
The bout between Lee and Kim was essentially a world title eliminator, and the winner would be moving on to a world title fight. Both men knew it, and both men knew they needed a win. This lead to a hotly contested bout that saw both men make a valid argument to get the judgement after 10 rounds. In the end however Lee took a razor thin decision, helped in part by a knockdown he scored in round 8.
The win over Kim was a major one in so many ways for Lee and his career. It was not just a win over a former world champion, and it not only lead Lee to getting another world title fight, which we'll talk about shortly, but it was also one that aged well as Kim ended up winning the WBA Flyweight title in 1991 to become a 2-time world champion. In fact Kim was still competing at a high level in 1994, when he competed in his final world title bout, losing a decision to Saen Sor Ploenchit. This was, easily, Lee's best win against a fellow Korean.
Jesus Rojas (March 10th 1990)
Around 4 months after scoring his win over Yong Kang Kim fans in Korea saw Lee return to the ring and challenge WBA Flyweight champion Jesus Rojas, from Venezuela. Rojas had won the title In Colombia in 1989, when he beat Fidel Bassa, and was looking to make his first defense. Lee on the other hand was looking to become a 2-weight champion and one of the few men, at the time, to have won world titles at Light Flyweight and Flyweight.
This bout is a bit of a forgotten war, with Lee coming forward like a man possessed and "Kiki" battling brilliantly on the back foot. This, hidden gem, was a bout that really deserves to be seen and was a forgotten thriller that went 12 rounds with a lot of leather being thrown through out. After 12 rounds the Korean narrowly out pointed Rojas, taking a razor thin split decision win to claim the title. The three cards here were all close, reflecting the hot competitive nature of the bout.
Sadly for Lee his reign was a short one, and he would lose the belt in his first defense to Leopard Tamakuma, whilst "Kiki" would rebuild and win the WBA Super Flyweight title in 1998.
When we discuss the greatest combat sport practitioners of all time one Thai who deserves a mention is the legendary Samart Payakaroon (21-2, 12). His boxing career was his secondary in ring career, after having been one of the great Muay Thai fighters of all time. His success in Muay Thai saw him being described by some as the greatest ever Muay Thai fighter, and even those who don’t rate him at #1 all have him in the chasing pack. He was a multi-time Lumpinee Stadium champion and a true legend in Muay Thai.
He was also a very impressive boxer, though his career only lasted 23 bouts in total, spanning from 1982 to 1994. It was also a career that had several breaks in it as other activities, including singing and acting, which saw him avoid in-ring competition. Despite having a stop-start professional boxing career he fit a lot into to his 23 fights, beat several notable names, won a world title and further enhanced his reputation as a combat sport king. His boxing success didn’t match up to his Muay Thai success, but he was still a top fighter in the 1980’s. With that in mind we want to bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Samart Payakaroon!
1 - Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh (August 24th 1982)
Following his very, very successful Muay Thai career Samart kicked off his professional boxing and made his debut in the second half of 1984. His opponent for his debut was fellow Thai Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, himself a former WBC Light Flyweight champion. For a fighter to debut against a former world champion is impressive, but Samart did exactly that, and did so in a 10 rounder, something that is almost unheard in recent years.
The bout saw the 19 year old Samart take a 10 round decision win over the then 23 Netrnoi, who had attempted to reclaim the WBC Light Flyweight title less than a year earlier, when he lost in 10 rounds to the brilliant Hilario Zapata. The win was a real statement from Samart, who announced himself to the professional boxing ranks and answered a number of questions immediately, such as proving his stamina and how he would deal with a fellow southpaw. This was also the first time Netrnoi had lost to a Thai in since his 10th professional bout, when he stopped at Flyweight by Fahsithong Fairtex. Sadly this would also be Netrnoi’s final bout, with the youngster passing away less than 4 months later following a motorcycle accident.
2 - Neptali Alamag (July 31st 1984)
Sadly after making a very impressive debut Samart vanished from boxing for over a year before returning in 1984. After returning to the ring he scored two low key wins before taking on the highly experienced Neptali Alamag, from the Philippines. Although not a big name Alamag was a well regarded regional level fighter. He had been a professional since 1974 had well over 50 bouts to his name, had never been stopped before and was the OPBF Bantamweight champion. He was a solid fighter, by any standards, never mind for a man competing in just his 4th professional bout.
Despite the fact Alamag was a solid fighter he was no match for Samart who ended up stopping him in 7 rounds in a very impressive early career result. This wasn’t just impressive by virtue of stopping a tough guy, but Samart had stopped a reigning OPBF champion and essentially began the end for Alamag who was stopped again in his following fight and would never win again before retiring a few years later. This was a statement on the regional scene and proof that Samart was a heavy handed beast of a hopeful and someone who could be moved much, much quicker than an average hopeful.
3 - Lupe Pintor (January 18th 1986)
After moving to 11-0 (6) Samart got his first world title fight, taking on Mexican legend Lupe Pintor for the WBC Super Bantamweight title. The 30 year old Pintor had been stripped on the scales, but the title was still up for grabs for the 23 year old Samart, who was looking to win a title in just his 12th professional bout. On paper a massive step up, and Samart’s most notable bout, by far, up to this point.
Despite the step up the Thai dominated. He won the first 4 rounds with no issues before stopping Pintor in round 5 with a straight left hand. The loss for Pintor seemed to be the end for the Mexican great, and he wouldn’t fight again for almost 8 years before mounting a very poor comeback to the sport when he was well past his best. As for Samart this was his career defining moment up to this point, and a huge win for his career. Not only was a world title win, but it had come within a few years of his debut, and saw him become the latest man to prove that top Muay Thai’s could also be top boxers.
4 - Juan Meza (December 10th 1986)
Sadly Samart’s reign was a short lived one and he was a title holder for just 16 months, and made only a single defense of the title. That came in 1986 when he took on former champion Juan Meza, himself a huge punching Mexican fighter who had established himself as one of the best fighters to watch in the lower weights. Meza’s 1984 bout with Jaime Garza had seen him win the title in one of the greatest 1 round shoot outs ever, though he had only managed a single defense before losing the belt himself, to aforementioned Lupe Pintor.
Samart managed to really impress against Meza, winning pretty much everything through the first 11 rounds before giving us a highlight reel finish to the bout in the dying seconds of round 12. The Thai great dropped his hands, went to the ropes and evaded a huge barrage from Meza, who threw the kitchen sink at Samart. Samart avoided pretty much everything thrown his way, before landing a left hand of his own and stopping Meza. The ending to this fight has been seen time and time again and has seen Samart being dubbed the “Thai Matrix” in some modern day videos of the bout. Whilst it was significant as his first, and only, defense, the bout was even more significant in the longer term, with the finish often being the first thing of Samart’s that modern day fans saw. This win, and especially the finish, helped introduce Samart to a much wider audience than any of his other results.
5 - Tiger Ari (January 23rd 1994)
Sadly for Samart his career failed to really kick on after his first defense. He lost the title 5 months later to Australian legend Jeff Fenech in 1987, and after that fought just twice over the following year. In 1988 he seemed to be done with boxing and would go on to do various activities outside of the ring before returning to boxing in 1993. In his third bout after returning to the sport he took on Tiger Ari, a Filipino best known for his time fighting in Japan. Although no world beater Ari was a very good regional level fighter, having held the OPBF Super Featherweight title from 1992 to 1993. He was tough, experienced, tricky and certainly not an easy man to beat. In fact coming into this bout he was sporting a 33-4-1 (11) record and was 13-1 in his last 14 bouts.
Aged 31 Samart was not the fight he had once been, but he did enough to take a 10 round decision over the 26 year old Ari. Sadly for Samart this was essentially the start of the end for him and he would fight just 3 more times, notably losing the final one of those bouts to WBA Featherweight champion Eloy Rojas, before retiring from in ring competition. Although it was his final big win, it was also one that aged well, with Ari later going on to reclaim the OPBF title, and proving he was still a lively and solid fighter into the early 2000’s, well after Samart beat him.
In the early part of the 2010’s Japanese fighter Ryo Miyzaki (24-2-3, 15) looked like a man set to be a key figure of the Osakan boxing scene, along with stablemate and close personal friend Kazuto Ioka. It seemed like the two were going to help move the Ioka Gym on to the next level and become stars of the Japanese scene for a decade or so
Whilst Kazuto Ioka managed to stay the course and become one of the most important Japanese fighters of the 2010’s, and now the 2020’s, the same couldn’t be said of Miyazaki, who failed to reach the heights some had hoped to see from him. Despite that he still did a decent amount with his career, which ran from 2006 to 2016 and features a mix of lows and highs. Among his successes were Japanese, OPBF and world titles reigns, though issues away from the ring and issues with his weight certainly prevented his career from reaching the heights many had expected him to reach.
With his successes in mind however, we’ve decided to take a look back on Miyazaki’s career and go into some depth on the 5 most significant wins for... Ryo Miyazaki.
1-Munetsugu Kayo (October 12th 2009)
Miyazaki’s professional career began on Christmas eve 2006 at the age of 18, and over the following 2 and a bit years he had run up a solid looking record of 9-0-2 (5) against a mix of lower level domestic and Thai opponents. His potential was clear, but there were questions still being asked of him. In October 2009 he did well to answer those questions, as he took on Japanese Light Flyweight champion Munetsugu Kayo.
Kayo had previously held the OPBF title before winning the Japanese title in 2007 and had defended it 5 times heading into his clash with the unbeaten Miyazaki. He was expected to be the favourite coming into the bout, and things seemed to instantly go against Miyzaki, who was left damaged from a headclash in the first minute of the bout. Despite the rude awakening to title level boxing for the 21 year old Miyzaki, he regrouped well and ended up out working Kayo, using his youth and speed well to rack up the rounds. After 10 rounds he had done enough to take a clear decision and the title in a very mature performance for the then youngster.
2-Katsuhiko Iezumi (June 14th 2010)
After winning the Japanese title Miyazaki would make just a single defense of the belt, fighting to a technical draw with Suguru Takizawa in early 2010, before setting his eyes on the OPBF Light Flyweight title, held by Katsuhito Iezumi. On paper this was another clear step up for Miyazaki against someone with a wealth of experience and several defenses of the OPBF title under his belt.
Despite the step up in class Miyazaki again impressed, using his speed and movement well to offset Iezumi’s pressure and stifling Iezumi’s work. Offensively Miyazaki built slowly through the bout, using his jab well, until round 8 when he erupted, staggering Iezumi on to the ropes and unloaded, forcing a mandatory 8 count. When the bout resumed Miyazaki smelled blood and ended up finishing off Iezumi and claiming the OPBF title.
3-Pornsawan Porpramook (December 31st 2012)
After making 4 defenses of the OPBF Light Flyweight title Miyazaki looked to move his career forward, and did so by dropping down in weight, to compete at Minimumweight. After stablemate Kazuto Ioka vacated the WBA Minimumweight title Miyazaki got a shot at the belt, taking on Thai tough guy Pornsawan Porpramook, aka Somporn Seeta. This was a huge step up for Miyazaki, against a former world champion and a well known tough nut who had pushed the likes of Donnie Nietes and Oleydong Sithsamerchai all the way, beaten Muhammad Rachman and had been involved in a sensational bout with Akira Yaegashi.
The bout between Miyazaki and Porpramook started slowly enough, but as it got on and start to go through the rounds it was a brilliant stylistic match up between the speed and guts of Miyazaki and the pressure and work rate of Pornsawan. As a result we ended up having a brilliant, hotly contested war that saw both men forced to take a lot of punishment in a pulsating 12 rounder. It seemed, at least to us, that the Thai deserved the win, but the judges disagreed, giving Miyzaki a split decision win and the WBA Minimumweight title, in a career defining victory for the Osaka fighter.
4-Carlos Velarde (May 8th 2013)
Sadly Miyazaki’s reign as the WBA Minimumweight champion wasn’t the best, and he made only two defenses of the belt. The first of those saw him take on aggressively minded Mexican fighter Carlos Velarde, who went to Japan with every intention of going to war with Miyazaki and taking the title.
Through 4 rounds this was a really, really good fight. A very under-rated little war with both men having moments until Miyazaki laned a bomb in round 5, almost beheading Velarde in the process. The shot was a KO of the year contender and was a true highlight reel finish for a man who hadn’t been known as a puncher. Although Miyazaki could hit, his stoppages, usually, came from accumulation, but here he looked like a KO artist with a finish that deserves to be watched over and over. This was the perfect way for Miyazaki to end his first defense and to establish his reign.
5-Jesus Silvestre (September 11th 2013)
As previously mentioned Miyazaki’s reign as the WBA Miniumweight champion was a short lived one, with the Japanese fighter moving up in weight at the end of 2013. Before he did that however he faced off with talented Mexican Jesus Silvestre, the then interim champion, and the two men put on a hotly contested bout that really could have gone either way.
From the off it was clear the two men were very much on the same level. Neither man could ever get much of an upper hand in a bout that saw every round being competed for. Every round of the bout saw the two men each land solid leather, and each needed to adapt to the successes of their opponents. It wasn’t an all out war, but it was a compelling 12 rounds battle that shifted and changed every round. In the end Miyazaki did just enough to claim the majority decision, and his second defense of the title.
Sadly Miyazaki’s career would essentially fall apart after this win. Just months after this win he dipped his toes at 108lbs and was stopped by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, in a massive up, send would only pick up a few very low key wins before losing to Ryoichi Taguchi in 2016, ending his career on that back of that loss. Oddly Silvestre’s career would also suffer after this, losing 3 of his following 7 bouts, before stringing together some very, very low key wins on the Mexican domestic scene.
Dubbed the “Thai Mike Tyson” Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (57-3-1, 46) was one of the stars of Thai boxing in the 1990’s and 00’s. Western fans might not remember him quite as well as they remember names like Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, but was very much a star in Thailand. He had a long and successful career which saw him accomplish far more than many Thai’s, and do so in a weight class we don’t usually see Thai’s having success in, the Super Featherweight division.
For those unfamiliar with Yodsanan, who was also known as Yodsanan 3-K Battery and Theera Phongwan, he fought from 1993 to 2009 and hailed from Si Sa Ket, the same place as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He managed to make his name in 2002, winning the “regular” WBA Super Featherweight title, and recorded 3 defenses before losing the belt in 2005.
For those unfamiliar with him we’ve decided to take Yodsanan and look at some of his biggest achievements, as we bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai.
1-Lakva Sim (April 13th 2002)
Sadly much of the early part of Yodsanan’s career was fought very much under-the-radar with a focus on winning, and defending, the PABA title. His first 40 fights came and went and there wasn’t a single notable name on his record through that stretch, which saw him going 37-2-1 (31). He had been active, he had been racking up wins, but he had done little of note. That changed in 2002 when he faced off with Mongolian tough guy Lakva Sim for the vacant WBA Super Featherweight title. At the time Sim was 30 years old and had lost a step from the fighter he had once been, though he was still a tough, heavy handed and world class fighter capable of giving anyone a tough test.
Despite being a huge step up for the Thai he managed to hang tough with Sim and did enough to earn the decision, in a thrilling war held outdoors in Nakhon Ratchasima. Yodsanan, then aged 27, seemed to have a bit more zip than Sim, and the conditions certainly seemed to favour the local. The bout was a hotly contested one and a very competitive one, though somehow two of the judges saw it as a clear and wide win for Yodsanan. Despite some poor scorecards this win put Yodsanan on the map, big time.
2-Lamont Pearson (December 5th 2002)
In his first defense Yodsanan took on American challenger Lamont Pearson, with the bout coming almost 8 months after Yodsanan’s title win. Despite the lengthy wait for Yodsanan to return to the ring the bout was held as part of the birthday celebrations for Bhumibol Adulyadej, the then king of Thailand, and was held at the Royal Square in Bangkok. This, alone, was significant, but to then consider that there was 60,000 fans in attendance and it was Yodsanan’s first defense, the pressure was all on Yodsanan to impress.
Thankfully for the Thai he did impress, stopping his American challenger in 9 rounds to give the King, and the Thai people, another reason to celebrate. The fight itself was decent, but it was everything going on around it that really made this something special. The venue looked less like a boxing event and more like a music festival.
For a first defense to be held like this was huge and further evidence that Yodsanan was a star at home, even if fans in the West weren’t particularly aware of him.
3-Ryuhei Sugita (February 8th 2004)
Sadly for Yodsanan his title reign was very, very stop-start. He won the title in April 2002, as mentioned, and defended the belt for the first time 8 months later. In the interim he had no fights. Following his win over Pearson he would have 3 stay busy fights, covering the entire of 2003, but wouldn’t actually defend his title until 2004. When he did he ended up making his international debut, travelling over to Japan to face Ryuhei Sugita.
At this point in time Sugita was a well respected fighter in Japan, boasting a 25-1-2 (21) record and was seen as a live challenger, with a solid bang and a good chin. In the end however he was stopped in 7 rounds as Yodsanan’s power got too much for him. Despite a gutsy effort the referee was forced to step in and save Sugita, who was out on his feet.
Although Sugita isn’t a big name internationally, this was still an impressive international debut, and proof, after 3 easy wins, that Yodsanan was still world class as he retained his title.
4-Steve Forbes (August 7th 2004)
Thankfully for Yodsanan there wasn’t a lengthy gap between his second and third defense, in fact it was just 6 months until he returned to the ring again. This time he was not only defending his title, for the third time, but also making his US debut as he travelled to Mashantucket, Connecticut, and took on Steve Forbes. This was his Yodsanan’s 47th bout and his big chance to make a statement to an international audience, who were tuning in on Showtime to see Deigo Corrales clash with Acelino Freitas.
The bout was somewhat dramaless with Yodsanan taking a clear decision win over Forbes in a bout that saw all 3 judges score the contest 117-111. As boxrec puts it “No knockdowns, No Cuts, Nobody hurt”. Despite the lack of drama, a rarity for a Yodsanan fight, the Thai still took home a win in the US and would later return Stateside for his more well remembered title loss, against Vicente Mosquera in 2005, in what was a much more dramatic bout.
Whilst the main event of the show may be more fondly remembered, with Freitas’ “no mas” in round 10, it was still a massive and significant milestone for Yodsanan who did something very, very few Thai’s have done. Defended a world title in the US.
5-Jimrex Jaca (June 27th 2008)
Sadly for Yodsanan the win over Forbes would be his last victory at world level and as mentioned he would lose the title to Vicente Mosquera in 2005, in what was a thrilling bout. Given the risk-reward for fighting him, Yodsanan never got another big fight and instead his career slowly wound down over the years that followed. It’s hard to spot many names of note. There was however one exception and that came in 2008 when he faced the then 28-4-3 (13) Jiimrex Jaca.
Jaca, a Filipino, was never an amazing fighter but was someone with some international recognition following a 2006 bout with Juan Manuel Marquez. Jaca had been stopped in 9 rounds by Marquez, in a WBO ”interim” Featherweight title bout and had struggled to get any momentum into his career following that loss. His downfall continued in 2008 when he was stopped by Yodsanan in 6 rounds, becoming the last noteworthy name on Yodsanan’s record.
When we talk about the most successful Japanese fighters of all time it's hard to deny that former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) deserves to be in the conversation. He was one of the longest reigning Japanese champions in history, he managed to notch up numerous notable defenses during his long and successful career. Between 2010 and 2016 he was one of the most important men to Japanese boxing, one of the true standouts for the country and for the Super Featherweight division.
Despite being a major star at home things never worked out for Uchiyama when it came to fighting abroad, despite talks taking place to get him to fight in the US. As a result many fans who don't follow the sport closely, and don't go out of their way to watch international boxing, missed out on Uchiyama, his career, his reign and his significance to Japanese boxing.
With that in mind we've decided to take a look back over Uchiyama's career and bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Takashi Uchiyama.
1-Juan Carlos Salgado (January 11th 2010)
After turning professional in 2006, following a very solid amateur career, Uchiyama quietly climbed through the ranks in his first 13 bouts, going 13-0 (10). Up to that point he hadn't done too much, with his biggest win being his 2007 KO win over Nedal Hussein, to claim the OPBF title that he defended 5 times. That all changed in 2010 when he took on unbeaten Mexican Juan Carlos Salgado, who had won his title in a huge upset win over Jorge Linares in 2009.
Salgado was looking to make his first defense and was taking on the unbeaten, but unknown, Uchiyama. On paper this seemed like an interesting one, but given how Salgado had taken care of Linares there was some feeling that he could well be something a bit special. Sadly for Salgado it turned out that it was Uchiyama who was a bit special, with the talented Japanese fighter controlling the bout behind his technical boxing and solid power, before closing the show in the 12th round to claim the WBA title to begin his legendary world title reign. This win helped put Uchiyama on the map and at the age of 30 was one he needed if he was ever going to be anything in the sport.
2-Takashi Miura (January 31st 2011)
Despite being 30 when he won the WBA title Uchiyama’s reign began in less than great fashion and his first two defenses were relatively meaningless. The first was against Angel Granados, a physical freak but a limited fighter, and the second was against Roy Mukhlis, who began to rack up losses after losing to Uchiyama. Thankfully in his third defense Uchiyama finally faced someone who would become more than just a footnote in the boxing history books. Instead of taking on some foreign opponent, again, who went on to do nothing, he instead took on fellow Japanese fighter Takashi Miura. This would be Uchiyama’s first bout against a Japanese fight since 2008 and would prove to be one of his most important wins.
The bout saw the heavy handed Miura, a former Japanese national champion, show how dangerous he was, dropping Uchiyama in round 3. Uchiyama would bounce back from that knockdown to break down Miura, leaving the challenger with a badly swollen face that forced him to be stopped after 8 rounds. This was a win that boost Uchiyama’s standing in the sport a few years later, when Miura himself would claim the WBC title, and become a very notable name himself. This win aged marvellously for Uchiyama, and it also helped Miura, who ended up moving over to the Teiken soon after this bout, and being given better training and better opportunities himself, despite losing. This was a rare win-win for the fighters involved. It’s just a shame we never got the much hoped for rematch when both men were champions.
3-Bryan Vasquez (December 31st 2012)
Following his win over Miura we saw Uchiyama take on some other notable names, including Jorge Solis, who he beat at the end of 2011. Exactly 1 year after that win Uchiyama scored another win that aged well, and that was an 8th round TKO win over Costa Rican foe Bryan Vasquez.
“El Tiquito”, as he was known, was 29-0 at the time and was a promising youngster who seemed to have plenty about him, but was stepping up massively. He gave a solid effort against Uchiyama before being stopped. At the time it seemed like another typical defense for Uchiyama. One that might look good on paper but mean little afterwards, much like his wins against Mukhlis and Solis. Instead however Vasquez went on to have a very credible career of his own, claiming the WBA “interim” Super Featherweight title, beating the likes of Rene Gonzalez and Sergio Thompson, and giving really serious tests to Javier Fortuna, Raymundo Beltran and Felix Verdejo. Amazingly Uchiyama was the only man to stop him, despite the opponents he later faced.
4-Daiki Kaneko (December 31st 2013)
A focus of this series isn’t the “biggest” wins for the fighter but the most “significant” and there are few fights on Uchiyama’s record as significant as his 2013 bout against fellow Japanese fighter Daiki Kaneko. The bout was regarded by those in Japan as Japan’s version of Carl Froch Vs George Groves, with the vertan champion taking on the young upstart. The old lion looking to remain the king of the table. The bout ended up not with Uchiyama winning, but also as a genuine instant classic. It was high level technical boxing for the most part, but then there was drama late on, with Uchiyama being dropped, being hurt, needing to dig deep and needing to take the fight back to Kaneko. It was fantastic to watch and was expected to lead to Kaneko becoming a key contender in the division, especially given the very good performance he gave here.
Sadly the bout was the start of the end. For both men. Uchiyama was 34 when he scored this win, and he would fight for the final just 3 years later. Kaneko on the other hand would fight on until 2017, but went 9-3 after this and never managed to get another world title fight, sadly. Rather notably this was the only time Uchiyama won a decision in a world title bout, proving he had the stamina, the heart, the determination and the skills to alongside his brutal power.
5-Jomthong Chuwatana (May 6th 2015)
By the start of 2015 Uchiyama was still the WBA Super Featherweight champion, but was becoming an old man. He was still very much one of the best Super Featherweights on the planet, but it seemed like his reign would end sooner or later. Entering his bout with unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana some, including ourselves, expected Uchiyama to struggle. He was old, and slowing, with injuries piling up. Jomthong on the other hand was a Muay Thai standout, with a rock solid chin, a talented and technical southpaw, and a man who had been battle hardened in Muay Thai before heading to professional boxing and claiming the OPBF title. Coming into this one he had beaten Daiki Kaneko just a few months earlier and seemed a very, very live under-dog.
In the ring we were expecting a solid test for the champion. Instead Uchiyama cleaned out Jomthong in round 2, taking out the tough Thai. Uchiyama knocked him clean out. This was, in many ways, Uchiyama’s final big win. He would defend the belt once more, stopping Oliver Flores, before losing the title in 2016 to Jezzrel Corrales and then losing in a rematch to Corrales, at the end of 2016, and retiring in 2017.
When we discuss some of the unluckiest fighters in history the name of Kiyoshi Tanabe (21-0-1, 5) needs to come up in conversation. The fighter had proven his ability at the 1960 Olympics, winning a bronze medal, and turned professional in 1963, debuting at the age of 23. He climbed through the rankings, despite his trainer leaving him to train Korean fighter Ki Soo Kim, and ended up on the verge of a world title fight before a detached retina forced his retirement. At that point in time he was still in his mid 20’s and had only recently begun working with legendary trainer Eddie Townsend.
Despite unfortunately ending his career as one of boxing’s biggest “what if’s?” of the 1960’s, and potentially even 1970’s, Tanabe still managed to have a solid professional career that included a number of solid wins. With that in mind let us bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Kiyoshi Tanabe.
1-Jet Parker (August 21st 1964)
Early in his career Tanabe had a number of very respectable wins, including victories over Katsuo Yachinuma and Eishiro Iwaya. For us however the first win of real note was his victory over Filipino fighter Jet Parker. Parker was only the second international opponent that Tanabe faced, coming just 11 days after he had beaten journeyman Leo Zulueta, and was a good, solid 10 round test for Tanabe against a very game fighter. Parker would later go on to win the Filipino Bantamweight title and notch several notable wins himself, including 2 against Bernabe Villacampo.
This was certainly a win that aged well, and put Tanabe in good stead going forward, and Parker was certainly no push over, boasting a 15-1-1 record coming into this bout, whilst Tanabe was 6-0.
2-Ric Magramo (August 8th 1965)
After notching some more solid wins over domestic talent, like Akashi Namekawa, eishiro Iwaya for a second time and Kenichi Iida it was clear that Tanabe deserved another good international opponent and that saw him take on the criminally underrated Filipino Endrikito Magramo, aka the original Ric Magramo. Prior facing Tanabe in 1965 Magramo had challenged twice for the OPBF title, had gone 10 rounds in the UK with Walter McGowan and 10 rounds with Hiroyuki Ebihara in Japan, and had won the Philippines Flyweight title. He was a solid competitor and asked questions of Tanabe, who took a 10 round decision win, as he had done over Parker a year earlier.
3-Akashi Namekawa II (October 25th 1965)
We mentioned Akashi Namekawa’s name a few moments ago and he was notably one of the biggest rivals for Tanabe, with the two men clashing 3 times. The first of those came in earlier 1985, when Namekawa was the Japanese Flyweight champion but the two men were clashing in a non title bout. The second, some 9 months later, was for the title and as with their first bout Tanabe took a decision over Namekawa, with Tanabe claiming his first, and only, title as a result. This win saw the unbeaten Tanabe move to 14-0 (5) and it seemed clear he was on the track to bigger and better things though there were question marks over his lack of stopping power.
4-Akashi Namekawa III (March 28th 1966)
In his first defense of the Japanese title Tanabe met with rival Akashi Namekawa for the third, and final, time. This time Tanabe had a point to prove, having gone the distance with Namekawa in the first 2 bouts between the men. Surprisingly Tanabe went on to stop Namekawa in the second round, ending a run of 4 decision wins. This was a definitive statement from Tanabe, and saw him stopping a man who had never been stopped before hand, and would never be stopped afterwards. In 38 bouts this was the only time Namekawa had been finished.
Interestingly this would be one of just 2 defenses of the Japanese Flyweight title by Tanabe, who suffered a draw in his second defense against Yuzo Narumi in October 1966.
5-Horacio Accavallo (February 20th 1967)
We suspect everyone who knows about Tanabe’s career knew what was going to be the fifth win here and that was his 1967 win over the then WBA Flyweight champion Horacio Accavallo from Argentina. The brilliant Accavallo had held the WBA title since beating Katsuyoshi Takayama for the then vacant title in 1966, and had defended it against Hiroyuki Ebihara and Efren Torres before facing the highly regarded Tanabe in a non-title bout. What was expected to be an interesting bout was not expected to be an absolute drubbing for the champion, who was stopped in round 6 after being given 2 counts and left a bloodied mess. The supposed light punching Tanabe, who had begun teaming with legendary trainer Eddie Townsend, had dominated the Argentinian great and became the first, and would be the only, man to stop Accavallo.
Not only was this first stoppage loss for Accavallo but it was only his second career loss, and the first since a decision loss to Salvatore Burruni in 1959. Following that loss Accavallo had gone 48 bouts without defeat.
Sadly after this bout issues with Tanabe’s eyes forced him to retire and saw him miss out on a rematch for the title. A rematch he would have been a huge favourite for given how one-sided this first bout between the men had been.
One of the many forgotten world champions form Japan is Tomonobu Shimizu (19-4-1, 9), who held the WBA Super Flyweight title early in the last decade. His reign was a relatively short one, and many fans outside of Japan are unlikely to know much at all about him. Despite his short reign he is someone who was rather popular in his homeland and the "Speed Star" still has a bit of a cult following in Japan, despite now going on to notable success outside of the ring.
During a professional career that spanned from 2004 to 2012 Shimizu faced a number of notable names, include Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Daisuke Naito and Tepparith Kokietgym. He also rebuilt remarkably well from an early career shock loss to Kaennakorn Klongpajol, in just his second professional bout. Despite setbacks Shimizu's career certainly had it's share of ups and successes.
For those unsure on his carer and his in ring achievements we've decided to take a look back on some of the most notable results of Shimizu's career as we go over the 5 most significant wins for... Tomonobu Shimizu
Hiroyuki Kudaka (October 19th 2005)
For Shimizu first really notable win we go all the way back to October 2005, and his 7th professional bout. In that bout he took on Hiroyuki Kudaka, also known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, and took an 8 round decision win over Kudaka. This was Shimizu's third scheduled 8 rounder, and his second to go the distance, but was a clear step up in class and was a win that aged like fine wine with Kudaka later going on to challenge for world titles, on 4 separate occasions. Even now, in 2021, Kudaka remains a relevant fighter on the Japanese scene and this was certainly one of the best wins in the early part of Shimizu's career. It also helped push him towards a potential title fight of some kind.
Kenji Yoshida II (April 14th 2008)
Sadly when Shimizu did get his first shot at a title, in 2007, he was beaten by then WBC Flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who stopped Shimizu in 7 rounds and left him with a broken nose. After two wins Shimizu got his second title fight, this time for the Japanese title as he clashed with Kenji Yoshida. The two men had met before, back in 2006, with Shimizu taking a close 8 round decision win, but following their first bout Shimizu had lost to Wonjongkam whilst Yoshida had become the Japanese champion. In their rematch the two men were again highly competitive with each other making for a hotly contested bout, with Shimizu taking the 10 decision win to claim the title, the first title of his career.
Sadly for Yoshida this began a downfall for his career and he later went 4-4-1 after this loss before retiring with a 17-11-1 record. At the time this was a big win, but sadly it aged badly for Shimizu.
Toshiyuki Igarashi (December 23rd 2008)
Shimizu's title reign wasn't a particularly long one, with just 4 defenses. The first of those came in late 2008 when he took on the then unbeaten Toshiyuki Igarashi, himself a future WBC champion. Here we saw Shimizu rely on his experience, his speed and his skills to over come the highly touted Igarashi, who had competed in the 2004 Olympics. Entering the bout with a 7-0-1 (5) record Igarashi was seen as the new Japanese star in the making at Flyweight, but had no answer to Shimizu who took a very clear decision over 10 rounds. Given that Igarashi would later win the WBC title this was a win that aged well, and arguably his best win, outside of his world championship win, which we'll get on to shortly.
Interestingly entertaining this bout Igarashi was the "interim" champion, as Shimizu had had his second world title shot between his Japanese title win and this defense.
Takayasu Kobayashi (February 8th 2010)
Another Japanese title defense by Shimizu saw him take on the then world ranked Takayasu Kobayashi in 2010. Coming into this bout Kobayashi had a #12 with the WBA and seemed in the form of his career, having won 11 in a row and been unbeaten in almost 5 years. Kobayashi had scored a career best just before this bout, taking a victory over Takahisa Masuda. Despite his form he was stopped him in 7 rounds by Shimizu, despite having given a very credible account of himself. The stoppage came after a badly cut Kobayashi was repeatedly tagged in round 7. He was fuming about the stoppage, almost begging the referee to let the bout continue, but he was a bloodied mess at the time of the stoppage.
Sadly for Kobayashi he was never the same fighter after this bout, going 1-4-1 and seemingly having the ambition ripped from his career with this defeat.
Hugo Fidel Cazares (August 31st 2011)
When it comes to the most significant and the biggest win of Shimizu career there is one standout result, and that was his 2011 win over Hugo Fidel Cazares, the then WBA Super Flyweight champion. This wasn't just a career defining win for Shimizu, but also a major upset win by the Japanese fighter in his third world title shot. The bout saw Shimizu move up in weight, and really dig deep to out work Cazares in a really great battle that swung one way and then the other. The bout swung too and fro throughout delivering one of the most under-rated fights of 2011. Despite entering as the local favourite Shimizu wasn't really given much of a chance against Cazares, who many regarded as the best Super Flyweight at the time, and was one of the biggest, strongest and most powerful fighters at the weight. Despite that Shimizu boxed fantastically, used his speed and skills and even had Cazares in trouble at times, as he second a split decision win. Whilst some will say that of course he got the split decision at home it's worth noting all 3 judges were from neutral countries and had no ties to Japan.
Sadly for Shimizu his reign became a complicated one, which saw him become the WBA Champion in Recess whilst healing from injuries and then lose in his first defense, 8 months later, to Tepparith Kokietgym.
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