Way back in March 2019 we had a genuinely excellent card from Shanghai, with several really good bouts. Earlier in the series we spoke about the sensational bout between Baishanbo Nasiyiwula and Yusuke Konno and today we look at another stellar bout on that card, which again saw China and Japan clash. Like that clash this was a nail biting bout, but yet a very different one, featuring a prospect taking on a fighter who would end the year in a world title fight.
Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) vs Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4)
Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi is someone we have mentioned before in this series, for his fun bout with Ardin Diale, and is best known for his 2019 bout with Kosei Tanaka. At world level Tuolehazi was exposed, big time, by Tanaka, but on the regional level he was very much in the mix and had scored notable wins in 2018 over Kwanthai Sithmorseng and Jayr Raquinel. Although not the quickest, or the most powerful, Tuolehazi is well regarded as an awkward, rangy boxer, with a good boxing brain, and enough power to get respect of opponents. He's probably not going to be winning a world title, but we expect to see him banging on the door of another title fight in the years to come.
Japanese prospect Ryota Yamauchi has looked sensational through his first 4 bouts. He was beginning to look like one of the countries rising prospects, and had already stopped the likes of Lester Abutan and Yota Hori in his first 4 bouts. He looked a bit crude and wild, but very strong, quick, powerful and big. He had shown touches of real brilliance and it was clear that Kadoebi, his promoter, thought very highly of him, highly enough to put him in this bout this early. The bout wasn't just a step up in terms of competition, but also his first international bout and his first 12 rounder. Given that prior to this bout Yamauchi had fought just 14 total rounds prior to this contest it was clearly a big risk for the 24 year old hopeful.
The bout started quickly with Yamauchi looking to set the tempo behind his jab, and it seemed like his speed and busy jab was going to be a key factor in the fight. He was forcing Tuolehazi back with it and using it to set up his right hand. Tuolehazi would begin to respond may way through the round and then we saw the two men mixing up shots in a brilliant back and forth. The action was technical, but incredibly high tempo and absolutely thrilling throughout the first 3 minutes.
We typically see feeling out rounds, but that wasn't the case here, and they would never really look backwards, with the action continuing to be hot, and the drama increasing round by round.
In round 3 we saw the first knockdown of the fight, and a major momentum shift as Tuolehazi's right hand dropped Yamauchi, putting the Japanese fighter down for the first time in his career. Even before the knockdown Tuolehazi seemingly found something that he could land, regularly, on the young, and in fact Yamauchi seemed to have no answer or defense to the shot, that regularly from the Chinese fighter.
Yamauchi would later drop the local, and would go on to turn the fight from from boxing into a brawl, as he mixed up his tactics and tried to keep the bout out of the hands of the judges.
The bout, which had started with a brilliant opening round, remained a fantastic bout, right upto the end. It was action packed, dramatic, saw both men needing to show heart, and swung back and forth. If you missed this first time around, sit back and enjoy one of the real hidden gems of 2019.
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.