In recent weeks we've been sharing bigger, more well known fights in this series, but today we roll back the clock to December 2019 for an under-the-radar thriller that we suspect very few fans have seen. It's battle that is well and truly worthy of a watch, with action, drama and a back story, as the two men had previously fought in 2018. What we ended up getting was a real gem and one we think deserves a lot more attention than it gets.
Shunsuke Isa (7-2-1, 1) vs Yoshiki Yamashita (6-2) II
The 21 year old Shunsuke Isa was a Kawasaki Nitta promoted fighter who had been struggling in recent bouts. He had started his career 6-1 but had then gone 1-1-1 and had seen the moment of his early success go to waste. Still at only 21 years old the future was still bright for Isa on the domestic scene as he entered in to his 4th bout scheduled for 6 rounds. He was looking to end 2019 with some momentum and enter 2020 with something to build on.
At 22 years old Yoshiki Yamashita was slightly older than his foe and was looking for his third straight win, following back to back victories over Ryo Shintomi. He was not just coming into this fight with a bit of form, but also hunger, as he was looking to avenge a 2018 loss to Isa, in what was a razor thin split decision loss. That loss had ended a 4 fight winning run for Yamashita, who seemed to have been building some momentum before meeting Isa for the first time.
About 16 months after their first bout they faced off once again and just like their first bout this was hotly contested!
The bout saw both men spend a few seconds to feel the other out, but it wasn't long until both began to let their shots go, giving us some early back and forth, and within a minute of the fight starting Yamashita, in the silver and green, had landed several eye catching shots. Around 90 seconds in Isa was responding in kinda as we began to get some thrilling back and forth exchanges. By the end of the opening round it was clear this wasn't the first round of the bout, but was instead the fifth round of their rivalry.
The action and intensity grew in round 2 as Isa dropped Yamashita with a right hand, followed by a jab as Yamashita was heading downward. Although Yamashita was quickly up to his feet it took a few moments before the hot, competitive action returned, but when it did it began to step up another gear, with the two men hammering home body shots on the inside and landing big head shots at the bell.
The knockdown in round 2 was essentially neutralised in round 3 as Isa was himself put down, with a huge right hand. He got to his feet and managed to recover his senses between rounds before we ended up with some more brilliant, and violently vivid exchanges. The exchanges highlight the final 3 rounds, which were fought for as if every round mattered too the result.
The exchanges, and back and forth head shots weren't none stop, by any stretch of the imagination, but were a frequently thing through the bout, interspersed by some nice boxing from both, and they gave the bout a real tension, especially given the two knockdowns. The action was fantastic, both men came to win, and both had some real moments in an ultra competitive 6 round thriller.
If you want a hidden gem from 2019 to watch, then give this Treasure a shot. It's well worth 20 minutes of anyone's time, and will almost certainly give you a chance to enjoy a fight that you probably haven't seen before.
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.