This week we delve back into out treasure trove and bring you a brutal war from the Korakuen Hall as two solid punching tough guys took it upon themselves to try and bring glory back to the Japanese Bantamweight.
The title had essentially spent 2018 as the belt no one wanted, with bouts repeatedly falling through. It's status had gone from a belt that fighters were desperate for to a belt that appeared to be cursed. Thankfully this year we have seen some thrillers for it, and this weeks piece of boxing treasure is the best of those thrillers.
Yuta Saito (12-9-3, 9) vs Yusuke Suzuki (10-3, 7)
In 2018 Yuta Saito scored the biggest win of his career, stopping stopping Eita Kikuchi in 2 rounds to claim the title, and score his most significant win. Aged 30 at the time and with 9 losses from 24 bouts he seemed unlikely to hold the title for long, but had the power to be a threat to anyone on the domestic scene. That power saw him defend the title in May with a TKO win over Hayato Kimura, who retired following the bout. It seemed that out of nowhere Saito was set for promising reign, and he made it clear that if he lost, he was heading immediately to retirement.
In his second defense Saito took on Yusuke Suzuki, a genuine tough guy who has seen his shot at a title in 2018 fade away due to one opponent failing to make weight and then suffering an injury in training. It seemed like the world was against him, but he was the mandatory challenger to Saito, and and was now 100% fit and healthy. Suzuki was 30 entering the bout, and it seemed like it was now or never for him.
What we ended up getting was a disgustingly brutal war between two men who refused to back down. They refused to accept a loss, and instead they gave each other a prolonged, hard beating, and they both seemed to love it! They were trading power shots, bleeding over each other, and getting very well acquainted up close. Despite fighting up close a lot the two men weren't being sloppy with their shots, instead they were both ripping uppercuts, short hooks and trying to out man the other in what was a truly gutsy and thrilling war.
If you're squeamish you may want to give this one a miss, otherwise this is a must watch and had it had a higher profile at the time we suspect fans would be talking about this one for a while.
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.