Not all fun of our treasures from 2019 had much fan fare, and today we look at one of the more hidden gems from China. This bout was on a card that featured two world title bouts and as a bout was very much over-shadowed at the time, but may have oddly ended up being the best bout on the card. It was fun, it was exciting and it was compelling clash of two men who's styles gelled surprisingly well.
Wulan Tuolehazi (11-3-1, 5) vs Ardin Diale (35-13-4, 17)
At the end of 2019 we saw Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi challenge WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka. That was Tuolehazi's 5th bout of 2019. In his third bout of the year he clashed with Filipino veteran Ardin Diale in what turned out to be an entertaining little scrap in Fuzhou.
Tuolehazi had started his career in 2015 and suffered back to back losses to begin his career, and was actually 2-3 after 5 bouts. He then went on a solid unbeaten run which had included wins over Noldi Manakane, Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Jayr Raquinel and Ryota Yamauchi. Although not an impressive fighter to watch he has proven to be tough, tricky and very awkward. He's sneaky good, rather than eye catching good, and his straight right hand had proven to be a very good weapon against Yamauchi. He could be out worked, and was sometimes too patient, and could be out boxed, but he knew how to wins rounds, and how to neutralise opponents behind his under-rated boxing IQ.
On the other Diale was a certified veteran of the sport. He'd had 52 bouts at this point, was 30 years old and had been a professional since 2006. During those 52 bouts he had faced a genuine who's who including Rodel Mayol, Wanheng Menayothn, John Riel Casimero, Julio Cesar Miranda, Koki Eto, Daigo Higa, Andrew Selby, Moruti Mthalane and Jonas Sultan. Although he had lost plenty very, very few fighters had had an easy time with Diale. Although not a world class fighter Diale was a handful, with under-rated power, an impressive work rate, and a veteran's head on his shoulders. He could be stopped, but wasn't really a fighter that many could blow away, and had real will to win.
The opening moments were the typical feeling out process, with Wulan getting the better of it, and landing a decent body shot. Diale however quickly put his foot on the gas and the tempo rose quickly in the second minute of the first round. We weren't getting a war, but things were certainly getting more active.
By round 3 we starting to see more and more activity, with the output from Diale picking up, and Tuolehazi looking to take center ring and responding with flurries of his own. By now the fight had gone from the two men scouting each other to two men trying to match each other in some brilliant back and forth exchanges. The tempo continued to be solid, with glimpses of real thrilling action through out, with momentum shifting regularly.
Whilst this was a million miles away from a flat out war, this was still an excellent little bout that was far too easily over-looked at the time.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.