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.
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