The Super Flyweight division has had a lot of attention in the last few years as American broadcasters have managed to actually showcase some of the talented fighters in the division. Now a days boxing fans, globally, will know about Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada. It wasn't always like this however and in the early 2010's the division was given no real exposure in the west. That meant that numerous noteworthy fighters failed to attract any sort of fan base outside of their domestic niche's.
One such fighter was Yota Sato (26-3-1, 12), who won the Japanese and WBC titles during his 30 fight professional career. He fought as a professional from 2004, losing on his debut in fact, 2013, when he lost the WBC Super Flyweight title. Although not the most well known fighter out there he was certainly someone worthy of more attention than he got.
With that now said we've decided to bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Yota Sato
Go Onaga (May 1st 2010)
Sato's first title bout saw him take on the then 15-0-1 (11) Go Onaga in a bout for the Japanese "interim" Super Flyweight title. At the time Onaga was not just unbeaten but also word ranked by both the WBA and WBC, and it was assumed a win for Onaga would lead him to a bout for the full title, and the a likely world title fight. Whilst it wasn't for the full title, that was held by the then injured Daigo Nakahiro, it was a huge chance for Sato to make a name for himself on the domestic scene. Sato would go on to stop Onaga in 7 rounds, claiming the interim title and setting up a show down with Nakahiro around 4 months later.
Daigo Nakahiro (September 25th 2010)
Having won the "interim" title in May 2010 Sato would get a shot at the full version of the title in September against Daigo Nakahiro. Although not well known outside of Japan Nakahiro was a solid fighter with a 21-2-1 (8) record. Both of his losses had come to more notable fighters, with the first coming to Daisuke Naito, in a Japanese Flyweight title fight, and the second to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, in a WBC world title fight. He had won the belt in 2008 and made 3 defenses before facing Sato, including defenses against Hidenobu Honda and Ryo Akaho. Despite being highly regarded Nakahiro was made to look second rate by Sato who easily out boxed the champion to claim the title, and unify the interim and regular Japanese Super Flyweight titles.
Kohei Kono (April 9th 2011)
In 2008 and 2010 Kohei Kono had lost in world title bouts. Prior to those losses however he had proven himself winning not only a Japanese Super Flyweight title but also the OPBF Super Flyweight title, twice. He was as solid of a contender at the time as you could find and he was also Sato's second Japanese title challenger. A win over would gave Sato's reign legitimacy, and prove that he was ready for bigger and better things than just the Japanese title. Over 10 rounds Sato would easily out point Kono, taking a very clear decision over Kono to retain the Japanese title. Given that Kono would later go on to become a 2-time world champion himself this wins looks even bigger on reflection than it was at the time. The win opened the door for Sato at world level, and he would go through the door a year later, and was a win that aged brilliantly.
Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (March 27th 2012)
Having proven himself ready for a shot at world level Sato would take on the then WBC Super Flyweight champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, also known as Suriyan Por Chokchai at the time and Suriyan Kaikanha. Suriyan had won the title had won the title in August 2011, when he beat Tomas Rojas, and then defended it against tough Japanese challenger Nobuo Nashiro. The bout turned out to be ultra-competitive and close, however 2 knockdowns in round 2 from Sato turned out to be the difference maker, with Sato taking a close decision. The win secured Sato the WBC title and the most important win of his career. Interestingly a day after this win he was stopped by police and asked what his job was whilst sporting the bruises and swellings that he suffered during the bout.
Ryo Akaho (December 31st 2012)
In August 2011 Sato was supposed to unify his Japanese title with OPBF champion Ryo Akaho. That bout fell through, when Akaho suffered an injury, but the two men would meet at the very end of 2012. Akaho, who was then unbeaten, was made to look very poor by Sato who regularly dropped his hands and took a clear decision over his countryman. Akaho was game, through out, but had no answer to Sato's straight punches, smart foot work and smart boxing brain. Given this bout was over a year in the making it the most important of Sato's two successful defenses, and ended up being his final win, with Sato losing the belt the following May to the then unheralded Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
After a few relatively disappointing weeks we've managed to have a really amazing 7 days of Asian boxing, where every category of our weekly awards could, very easily, have multiple contenders. This wasn't a typical week, of course it wasn't, we had a host of cards across the continent, but we didn't just have quantity but also real quality with proof, again, that 50-50 match making provides the best from boxing!
Fighter of the Week
Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2)
OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro may not have got a huge amount of attention this week but his win over Takuya Watanabe, to make his second defense of the Oriental title. The bout was competitive, at times, but Mishiro always seemed to be a step ahead and was well deserving of his win, arguably the best of his career so far. He showed how good he was as a boxer, as a brawler and as a general fighter that he it. This was the sort of win that proved what Mishiro has to offer, and that he is edging towards a world title fight, even at this very early stage in his career.
Performance of the Week
Lito Dante (16-10-4, 8)
In one of the final Asian bouts of the week Filipino Lito Dante proved that records are for DJ's as he travelled to Japan and ripped the OPBF Minimumweight title from the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Koura. Koura, who had been ranked #3 by the WBC, had looked the clear favourite against a man who was known as a tough but limited fighter. Dante however broke down the previously unbeaten Japanese fighter, scoring a shock 12th round TKO in what is, by far, the best win of his career and one of the biggest upsets of 2019 so far.
Wulan Tuolehazi vs Ryota Yamauchi
One of the best things this week has been the sheer number of amazing fights we've had, across all levels of the sport. For us the one that had everything was the WBA International Flyweight bout between Wulan Tuolehazi and Ryota Yamauchi from Shanghai. The bout saw both men going down, both men digging in deep, both landing hurtful shots and both adapting. The only real issue was two score-cards of 117-109, which didn't reflect the action in the ring, and again leaves question marks over judging. Rather than dwell on the negatives we'll just state that this is a must watch bout.
Juan Miguel Elorde vs Shohei Kawashima
Hironori Mishiro vs Takuya Watanabe
Fangyong Zhang vs Ryuto Maekawa
Fuga Komatsu vs Yota Sato
Fuga Komatsu vs Yota Sato (Round 1)
Given how many great fights we had, we also, obviously, had a lot of great rounds. For us the one that perhaps stood out the most was the opening round of the all-debutant bout between Fuga Komatsu and Yota Sato. The bout was a 4 round contest on a small card in Yokohama, but was fought at a frantic, exciting and exhilarating pace. Komatsu would drop his man in the opening seconds, with Sato managing to see out the storm. It wasn't the most evenly contested round of the week, but in terms of sheer excitement and heart it was amazing.
No fit contender - Despite all the great action, there wasn't any great KO's this week, that we deem worthy of attention, however if you feel there was please drop it in the comments!
Jayson Mama (12-0, 6)
Filipino youngster Jayson Mama may not be a big name, yet, but the 21 year old "Smasher" sure did impress this past week when he travelled to China and clearly out boxed Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. The Filipino, who had never really beaten anyone of note prior to this week, took a huge step up and totally dominated the Thai former world title challenger. This was the sort of win that will help put anyone on the map and should well help Mama move into the world rankings. For those unaware of Mama it's now time to make a mental note of the youngster.
Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) vs Koki Inoue (12-0, 10)
We don't have any world level bouts coming up this week, be we do have a potentially amazing Japanese Light Welterweight title bout set for Saturday as veteran champion Valentine Hosokawa takes on mandatory challenger Koki Inoue. Given the styles of the two men, and what's on the line this has the potential to be something very, very special. One to be really excited about.
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