When it comes to fighters being forced down fans throats, we do see fans turning against them. One such case was that of Chinese star Zou Shiming (9-2, 2). He was a genuinely talented fighter, something that often gets forgotten, but was rammed down the throats of fans as Top Rank and Bob Arum tried to crack the potentially massive Chinese boxing market. Shiming turned professional late, after a genuinely brilliant amateur career, and was moved quickly through the pros. He would fail in his first world title shot, but win the WBO title in his second shot at professional world honours.
When we say Shiming was a brilliant amateur we aren't joking. He was a 2-time Olympic gold medal winner, a 3-time World Amateur gold medal winner, a 2-time World Championship gold medal winner and picked up numerous other medals during his long and successful days as an amateur.
Whilst international fans tired of Shiming quickly, and celebrated his loss to the then unknown Sho Kimura in 2017, there was a lot that fans didn't really know about Shiming. The marketing for him pushed that he was a Chinese amateur standout, and didn't sell him on the person he was. Those behind his proverbial push just had dollar signs in their eyes, rather than the fighter himself.
With his career now almost certainly over, let us bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Zou Shiming
1-As a child Shiming was bullied by a girl, who left him with a scar on his head.
2-Shiming began boxing as a teenage, with some reports suggesting he was 15 and other stating he was 16. Prior to that he had taken up other martial arts.
3- Among the fighters Shiming beat in the amateurs are Toshiyuki Igarashi, Amnat Ruenrroeng, who later beat him in the pros, Nordine Oubaali, Rau'shee Warren, Carl Frampton, Juan Carlos Payano.
4-Staying with his amateur past both he and Naoya Inoue competed in the 49KG division at the 2011 AIBA World Championships. Despite being in the same competition the two didn't clash, though Shiming would go on to win the gold medal. From what we could find the two men actually fought each other.
5-From the 11 professional shows Shiming fought on an impressive 10 featured at least 1 world title bout. That included 3 that he fought in. The only show that didn't feature a world title bout, featuring either Shiming or another fighter, was his January 2016 win over Natan Santana Coutinho, though it did feature future world champion Ryota Murata along with Shiming.
6-Zou Shiming has featured in a Hollywood blockbuster! The fighter featured in Transformers 4: Extinction, playing a cameo role in an elevator scene.
7-Shiming, and his wife Ran Yingying have three children. The first was born in June 2011, the second in August 2013 and their third in 2019. According to Chinese reports all 3 were delivered by caesarean, with the third birth being a very complicated and worrying one due to Yingying's scar tissue.
8-On the subject of his family, Shiming and his eldest son appeared on reality TV show Where is Daddy going? (Season 3) when Shiming's son was around 3 or 4 years old.
9-Staying with TV shows, in 2014 Shiming featured on the Chinese version of Dancing with the Stars. He was, however, eliminated in the first episode.
10-In late 2017 Shiming was taken to hospital due to serious issues with his sight. He was diagnosed as having multiple fractures, mild cataracts, Vitreous opacities and other notable issues in both eyes. His long boxing career, and seemingly poor medical treatment, left his sight in real jeopardy, though thankfully he has been pictured since then looking happy and enjoying family time with his wife and children.
In 2019 we were lucky enough to catch some wildly entertaining rounds, from all sorts of venues. Among the most interesting venues were the Korean boxing clubs, and despite not looking like they deserved a great fight we seemed to get at least one sensational at every club show. Today we take one of the best rounds, from one of the most entertaining Korean Club shows of 2019, and share in the latest Remarkable Rounds.
Seung Hee Lee (3-6, 1) vs Jin Soo Kim (6-6-1, 3)
We need to go into this one with total brutal honesty. Seung Hee Lee and Jin Soo Kim are not world class fighters in the making. They are, pretty much, never going to go beyond Korean domestic level. They are not good boxers. But when it comes to remarkable rounds the quality of the fighters doesn't matter. We're here for entertainment, excitement, action, and for leather to be thrown like confetti at a wedding! And those things were all delivered here.
The first 2 rounds of the bout has seen Lee, the naturally bigger, heavier and younger man, press the action and get to the smaller, more experienced Kim. Despite the success of Lee Kim was landing plenty of solid shots of his own, typically as counters as Lee rushed in. It was a fun, but messy, bout, through 2.
Then we got to round 3 and oh boy was it clear we were getting something special.
The venue had began to fill with fans, people crowding around the little ring to watch the action that was unfurling in the ring, and they joined just in time for something truly brilliant. From the opening seconds the action was intense with Lee backing Kim up, pushing him on to the ropes and letting shots go. Time and time again Kim's head would snap back, he couldn't create space with his movement, so instead he tried slipping and sliding on the ropes to counter. This gave up some wildly entertaining, crude yet breath taking action.
Kim was left bloodied, but he refused to be beaten and kept landing just enough counters to prevent the referee from getting involved. Lee refused to stop throwing.
Don't let the venue confuse you here. This is a great round of low level, low key, warriors just going at it. Yes it's low level, but man is it ever entertaining!
The last couple of "What a Shock" articles both focused on Japanese fighters travelling to pick up the upsets, ripping up the scripts and shocking the local fans. This time around we get the chance to focus on a fighter from the Philippines, the country that we suspect gets more upsets by their fighters than any other country. For this fight we roll the clock back just a few years and relive one of the most surprising upsets of 2015.
May 16th 2015
Auditorio Miguel Barragan, San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Eden Sonsona (33-6-2, 11) Vs Adrian Estrella (22-0, 20)
Filipino Southpaw Eden Sonsona is not someone we suspect many will be too familiar with, unless a Filipino reading this. The surname might be familiar, with Eden being the cousin of the enigmatic Marvin Sonsona, but Eden probably not so familiar, despite being a professional for well over a decade.
Sonsona turned professional in 2004 and had success on the domestic stage, winning the GAB Super Flyweight and Bantamweight titles. Outside of the Philippines however he struggled to make an impact, losing to the likes of Kohei Kono, Silence Mabuza, Pungluang Sor Singyu and Jonathan Oquendo. His form outside of the Philippines was poor, despite a couple of wins in the US. He wasn't a bad fighter, but he was also not a particularly good one either, and by 2015 he had moved from Flyweight up to Super Featherweight, a weight that didn't seem likely to be a good one for him.
In May 2015 Estrella travelled to San Luis Potosi to take on unbeaten Mexican Adrian "Diamante" Estrella. At this point Estrella was 22-0 (20), he was being matched towards a title fight and had beaten the likes of Dante Jardon and Celestino Caballero. He was holding a number of WBC regional titles and was expected to continue his charge towards a world title by winning the WBC International Silver title here against Sonsona.
Estrella was a good boxer puncher, a strong fighter who was creating buzz. He was unbeaten, at home, 24 years old and the natural Super Featherweight. At the time he was likely being viewed as another potential Mexican to take on the then WBC world champion Takashi Miura, who was getting a reputation as a Mexi-killer.
Given how stacked things were in favour of the naturally bigger, stronger, more powerful, younger, unbeaten local it seemed like this was going to be a foregone conclusion. Estrella was going to win. He was going to win early, make a statement, and move to within touching distance of a world title fight.
Well that was what we all thought.
Just seconds into the bout Estrella touched down, it was ruled a push, rightfully, but it was clear that Sonsona was feeling something and he through the first round throwing hayemakers. He caught Estrella once or twice with wild left hands but Estrella stood up to them. It was clear that Sonsona had come into the bout with the mindset "to win, I need to stop him". Despite landing some huge single shots Sonsona was out worked and Estrella had more than enough good moments himself to secure the round, even wobbling Sonsona at one point. This was a surprisingly great opening round, despite the somewhat wild offensive work of Sonsona.
Roudn 2 started much like round 1 had been, with both men looking to land something big. Sadly for Estrella he was caught, big time, by a counter right hook up top from Sonsona. Estrella tried to beat the count, and got to his feet before stumbling to the corner and forcing the referee to stop the bout. He was up but out of it was he sat in his corner.
With Sonsona celebrating the Mexican TV cameras kept zooming in on Jhonny Gonzalez, sat ringside, who looked in pure shock at the way his countryman had just been stopped.
The victory for Sonsona should have put him in line for a big fight. He had just beaten one of the rising Super Featherweight stars of Mexico. Instead he spent more than 18 months out of the ring and picked up just 2 wins before his career began to capitulate and he went on a losing run which included two decision losses to veteran Jamie Barcelona.
Whilst Sonsona failed to build on this Estrella never rebuilt his career. He scored 6 wins, the most notable of which was a close decision over a then 41 year old DeMarcus Corley before losing 4 of 5 bouts and essentially seeing his career fall apart. As we write this he is still an active fighter, but his career is certainly falling a long way short the expectations he had on his shoulders coming into this bout.
Late last week we saw Japanese veteran Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) put in a career defining performance to witn a thrilling 9 round war with Yusaku Kuga and claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, doing so in a 2021 Fight of the Year contender. It was Furuhashi’s third shot at the domestic title and it was likely his last, if he lost. He knew his career needed him to win, and he dug deep, found limitless energy and did what he needed to stop Kuga.
With that win under his belt we thought Furuhashi was in a great position to weigh up his options and look at some match ups that are out there for him. And boy is there a lot of options out there for the new champion. In fact we struggled to whittle it down to just five for this week’s “Five for… Gakuya Furuhashi”.
1-Hiroaki Teshigawara (22-2-2, 15)
Our first option is probably the least likely, all things considered, but would be the most interesting option in our eyes, as we favour unification bouts quite strongly in this series. That would be a bout between Japanese champion Furuhashi and OPBF champion Hiroaki Teshigawara. If we’re being totally honest we suspect Teshigawara, who is highly ranked by the WBC and IBF, has no intention of keeping his OPBF title, never mind unifying it, and is instead focusing on getting a world title fight. From a fan perspective however we would love to see this one, and it would be a fantastic battle. Every fight Furuhashi is in sees a lot of leather thrown, and he comes forward looking to make a fight an inside battle, and Teshigawara is an educated boxer-puncher who would look to catch Furuhashi coming in with heavy shots. It would almost certainly be a win for Teshigawara, but would still be a real fun one to watch.
2-Ryoichi Tamura (14-5-1, 7) II
In 20219 we saw Furuhashi earn a shot at the Japanese title with an amazing 8 round decision win over former Japanese champion Ryoichi Tamura, in a bout that could easily have gone either way. We had our jaws drop watching the intense action involved in that one and to see the two do it again over 10 rounds for the belt would be amazing. Of the two fighters Furuhashi is the quicker, sharper man but Tamura is the stronger man with a more imposing physicality. What they have in common, however, is what makes a fight between the two a sure fire thriller, and that is that they fight in similar fashion, wanting to entertain fans, wear their opponents down and have a thrilling toe to toe war. This would be the sort of fighter that would push both men closer to retirement, but would have fans glued to the in ring action. At the time of writing Tamura is ranked #4 by the JBC, but the rankings do need up dating and he could well be banging on the door for a title fight when the update does go through.
3-Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8)
Whilst we would love to see Furuhashi get a chance to face a fellow warrior, like Tamura, there is also a case of wanting to see him face a fighter with a very, very different style, especially given his recent wars with Kuga and Tamura. With that in mind a bout between Furuhashi and the slippery, counter punching stylist Toshiki Shimomachi would be an interesting fight. For Furuhashi this would seem like a lower profile first defense, but one where he would certainly not take the punishment we’ve seen from him in recent bouts. It would look like an easier match up on his body than some of the others but would be a mentally testing bout for the champion. As for Shimomachi this would be a huge chance for him to show what he can do on the national stage, as he looks to grow from being a former Japanese Youth Champion to a full national champion. It would be a bout where the challenger would be the clear under-dog, but he would certainly have a good chance here against someone who does give a lot of countering opportunities.
4-Ryohei Takahashi (19-4-1, 8)
We’re back to looking at potential wars here and bout between Furuhashi and former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi would certainly be an entertaining one, and one fought between two men who are at a similar level. Takahashi is best known for his loss in an IBF world title fight to TJ Doheny and despite looking out of his depth there his toughness did impress and he ended up taking a real beating from Doheny. Against Furuhashi we would expect something similar, with Furuhashi being too good, too sharp, and too quick. However we would expect this one to be incredibly entertaining and a real fun fight from the opening bell. Takahashi lacks the ability to control the distance and tempo of the bout, and would be forced to fight Furuhashi’s style, something that will always be fan pleasing. Given Takahashi is ranked #5 by the JBC his name should certainly be in the mix, and given his world level experience a win over him would be meaningful for Furuhashi.
5-Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1)
A wildcard choice to close this out would be a bout between Furuhashi and the fast rising Ryosuke Nishida, who scored a huge win last December over Shohei Omori. The win over Omori saw Nishida claim a #6 ranking with the JBC and puts him, potentially, in place to tie a Japanese record for the fewest fights to win a Japanese title, a record held at 4 bouts by the likes of Naoya Inoue, Akinobu Hiranaka, James Callaghan, Modest Napunyi and Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. Of course Nishida would be a big under-dog against Furuhashi but he was also the under-dog against Omori and showed some fantastic potential in that bout. We love unification bouts but we also love to see fighters daring to be great and seeing Nishida get a shot at the title in just his 4th bout would be amazing. Like the potential Shimomachi bout this wouldn’t be an all out war, that’s not Nishida’s way, but it would be a very compelling match up mixing Furuhashi’s pressure with the movement and speed of Nishida.
Others considered (as this really was a long short list to whittle down):
Yuskau Kuga II
*All rankings correct at time of writing on January 25th.
This past Friday on Boxing Raise we saw the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) retain the Japanese Super Featherweight title, recording his first defense, as he stopped Takuya Watanabe in a solid bout. The expectations were that this would be something special, and whilst the bout failed to hit the heights expected of it, it was still a very engaging and solid contest until Saka took out Watanabe in round 6.
Following that win we had a quick and tried to think about what should be next for the hard hitting champion and realised there is a lot of interesting domestic options for him. In fact from where we're sat the Japanese Super Featherweight division currently being one of the most compelling domestic scene's out there. Whilst having a look at the options we decided Saka was a perfect fighter to give our "Five for..." treatment to.
1-Kenichi Ogawa (25-1-1-1, 18)
Our first choice for Saka’s next defense is probably not likely, but it would certainly be something worth watching, and a big fight for Japanese fans, with Saka facing Kenichi Ogawa. The world ranked Ogawa will have his eyes set on a world title bout of some kind, but in reality the world we live in today makes international travel awkward at best, and maybe Ogawa will need to look elsewhere for a notable fight. With that in mind it would be great to see the handed Ogawa look to recapture the Japanese title that he held between 2015 and 2017. A bout between himself and Saka would have the ingredients to be an explosive encounter, with a strong feeling of tension. Both men would know they have the power to take the other out, but they would also know their opponent has the power to take them out.
2-Masanori Rikiishi (9-1, 5) II
Our second choice is a much, much more likely option and that would see Saka rematching the talented Masanori Rikiishi. In 2018, in just his third professional bout, Rikiishi dared to make a statement and was stopped in 2 rounds by Saka, with his lack of professional experience showing through. Since then Rikiishi has won 7 in a row and late last year he made it clear he was wanting a chance to avenge his loss to the hard hitting Saka. Rikiishi has also been edging himself towards the Super Featherweight division, as if targeting Saka and his title. As for Saka this would be a chance to prove that he can beat an improved Rikiishi, and make a solid second defense against a man in great form. The bout would also, given the title status, have significantly more attention than their first bout.
3-Kanehiro Nakagawa (10-6, 5)
Our third choice is probably the most likely and that would be a bout between Saka and the JBC#2 ranked contender Kanehiro Nakagawa, who could potentially be ordered as a mandatory title challenger this year. On paper Nakagawa looks like a massive downgrade from some of the other names on this list, given his less than appealing record, however he is probably in the best form of any Japanese fighter at 130lbs having won his last 5 bouts, with wins over Taiki Minamoto, Ken Oato, Ryuto Araya and Seiichi Okada. That level of competition has seen him climb rapidly through the rankings and earn a shot. In terms of his style, he has the toughness, determination and work rate to make for a thrilling clash with Saka and this would be a firefight well worthy of main eventing a Dynamic Glove show.
4-Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7)
Staying with men well ranked by the JBC a bout between Saka and #7 ranked Yoshimitsu Kimura. This would be a very different type of test from many on this list, but also a really interesting one. Kimura isn’t a big name challenger but is a solid fighter, well known on the Japanese scene and the type of fighter who has been in some great fights already. His 2019 battle with Hironori Mishiro showed the level he could compete at, losing a razor thin decision for the OPBF title, and his 2020 draw with Shuma Nakazato was equally good. Kimura is a speed boxer-fighter, who often finds himself needing to fight more than box, and that could be a downfall against Saka, or it could make for an instant classic. Either way, we would love to see this one and would anticipate something special. For as long as it lasts, at least.
5-Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-5-1, 12)
We started with a former Japanese champion and we’ll end with one, with Kazuhiro Nishitani, a former Japanese Lightweight champion, being a very interesting match up for Saka. The talented Nishitani was last seen in the ring losing a clear decision to Kenichi Ogawa, but he showed enough in that bout to remain in the title mix and against a man like Saka the styles should make for a very interesting bout. Nishitani is tough, really tough, a very relaxed boxer who rides shots well and fights smartly and has real determination. His career defining win over Shuhei Tsuchiya, back in 2017, was fantastic and in many many ways Saka has some similarities to Tsuchiya which should make for a dramatic bout. Nishitani has never been stopped, and Saka would love to change that, whilst Nishitani would love to get a shot to become a 2-weight champion!
*Note rankings are right as per the English version of the JBC rankings on January 25th.
It's fair to say that January wasn't a busy month, by any stretch of the imagination, but there was a handful of gems that took place over on Japanese subscription service Boxing Raise and with that in mind we felt it was worth sharing those gems as we cover the The Best of Boxing Raise January 2021.
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/".
The rising Lightweight hopeful - Shu Utsuki (7-0, 6) vs Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5) [movie/9409/]
To begin with we don't have a gem per se but a bout you should make an effort to watch as it features one of the most promising Lightweights in Japan. That is the unbeaten, and heavy handed, Sut Utsuki who was up against the rangy and experienced Masashi Wakita. The bout wasn't the most competitive or most exciting, but for fans wanting to see one of the more promising Japanese fighters at 135lbs this is well worth a watch.
Japanese Super Featherweight title bout - Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) vs Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [movie/9411/]
An obvious choice here for this months list was the first Japanese title fight of 2021, and that saw Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka take on mandatory challenger Takuya Watanabe. On paper this one promised a lot, with Saka being one of the biggest puncher in Japan and Watanabe being a well known tough guy, who has been in some thrilling action bouts during his long career. The bout may not have quite reached the lofty expectations some, including ourselves, had for the bout, but it was certainly worth a watch.
Japanese title war! - Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) vs Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [movie/9413/]
Another obvious choice to enjoy was the sensational Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight between defending champion Yusaku Kuga and mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi. Like the Saka Vs Watanabe bout, the expectation was high, and this exceeded those expectations, giving us a legitimate fight of the year contender. If you like high-tempo, inside, phone booth wars this will be down your alley. And if you don't like those sorts of fights, why are you even following this sport? Genuinely this is going to be a very, very hard fight to beat and we may well have already seen the Japanese fight of the year!
Teenager debuts - Seiya Iwamoto (0-0) vs Keisuke Endo (0-0) [movie/9432/]
One thing Japan does better than anywhere else is making 4 rounders something, and their regular 4 round shows match novices who both come to win, rather than have a prospect taking a quick and easy win against someone incredibly limited. One example of that was the debut of 17 year old Seiya Iwamoto, who took on Keisuke Endo in a short but fun fight. The skill level here was low but the action came from the opening bell and the bout really is a gem hidden away on the service. Fun, short and exciting.
All debutant Lightweight clash - Tomoki Sato (0-0) vs Jun Nakahara (0-0) [movie/9434/]
Another 4 rounder that's worth watching is the Lightweight bout between Tomoki Sato and Jun Nakahara. Again these were two debutants and both men were there looking to leave an impression. This wasn't a crude battle, like Iwamoto Vs Endo, but was an entertaining bout, with 2 knockdowns and a chance to see two fighters who may well end up competing in a Rookie of the Year tournament one day. Despite the novice status of both men there was plenty to like here, and it's clear both fighters have got something to work with, even if they are both very, very rough around the edges.
Another 4 rounder! - Kei Fujita (2-1, 2) Vs Narimichi Miura (1-2, 1) [movie/9436/]
Another exciting 4 rounder was the bout between Kei Fujita, who fought on the under-card of Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka, and Narimichi Miura. On paper this looked like it could be an explosive one given neither man had seen the final bell in any of their bouts. It didn't end up being quite as explosive as anticipated, but it was still a damn good bout and round 2 in particular was thrilling. If you like competitive back and forth action this is fantastic to watch and was fought in really good spirits by two men who believed they could take home a victory.
We know some don't enjoy "club level" fights, but to us they are quickly becoming some of our favourites and the 4 rounders in this list are great examples of why, with exciting action and both fighters coming to win. With so few fights taking place in January we really do suggest giving these 4 rounders a watch, as well as the three bigger bouts!
This past weekend in the US the Super Bantamweight division came alive with stellar performances from Raeese Aleem and Stephen Fulton, who both looked spectacular on Showtime on Saturday night. Before those two bouts we also had a Japanese national title fight in the division, with that bout taking place on Friday in Tokyo, and being shown around the globe on Boxing Raise.
That bout in Japan saw Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 14) dethrone Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) in what was a sensational fight for a title that has repeatedly given us amazing bouts. It was a brilliant back and forth, fought almost entirely on the inside, and it saw both men take a lot of punishment. It was competitive, dramatic, brutal and one we suggest all fight fans make an effort to watch in 2021.
Having had time to let the bout breathe before rewatching it earlier today we've decided it's now time to share our take aways from what was a genuinely amazing fight.
1-The styles gelled perfectly
When we look at potential bouts, and how much we're going to enjoy them, or whether they are going to be fan friendly we need to think about how each fighter fights, and how their styles should gel. For this bout the styles gelled amazingly. Both men have the same mentality or fighting, rather than boxing, both have similar game plans, and both have similar strengths. This made for a bout that was great on paper, and equally as good in the ring.
Despite this being a mandatory title defense for Kuga it rather fortunately showed what good match making should focus on. It's not the records that matter when making a good fight, but the styles. Both of these men wanted to work at a high pace. Both wanted to let their shots go and both did so in different ways. Kuga wanted to fight at mid-range, but was willing to fight up close in spurts. Furuhashi wanted to fight up close, and was willing to take a bomb or two to get inside. In many ways this was similar to the Angela Leo vs Stephen Fulton fight seen on Saturday, and again the styles gelled. Wonderful to watch.
2-Akihiko Katsuragi did a great job
We've been over this so many times in this series but Japanese referees seem to be consistently fantastic and Akihiko Katsuragi, the third man in the ring here, is no exception. Katsuragi stayed out of the action, he let fight, he didn't look to interject at any point. He wasn't there to get involved unless he needed to be, such as at the end of the rounds. The one exception to that came towards the end of the bout when he quite rightly stopped the contest with Kuga being completely gone. We saw a lot of praise for David Fields' work on Saturday night, for letting Leo and Fulton fight, and it was the same here with Katsuragi. When they clinched, which was incredibly rare, they were allowed to fight out of it, breaks were few and far between.
Not only did Katsuragi not interject but he was also aware of the fight, it's meaning and the men involved. A lesser referee would, potentially, have stopped this at various points. A nervous referee may have thought a man was more hurt than he actually was and jumped in. We've seen it in the past with early stoppages particularly prevalent in the UK. Katsuragi showed no intention of stopping this until he needed to.
3-This deserved a louder audience
Originally this bout was planned for April 28th 2020, as part of the annual Champion Carnival series of fights. Sadly due to Covid19 the bout was postponed by around 9 months. Covid19 not only meant there was a lengthy delay to the bout, but also meant that restrictions were put on the fans, who were limited by number and by what they were allowed to do. All fans were forced to wear masks to attend the fight and they weren't allowed to chant and cheer on their man. Instead they were pretty much limited to applauding.
We fully understand the rules, the regulations and the limitations on the fans and the venues, and why they are in place.
However this bout deserved so much more noise and atmosphere than it got. Throughout the bout we had rounds of applause, with fans appreciating the fighters, the action and the fantastic bout they were watching unfold. Sadly however it deserved chants, cheering, and roars of appreciation from a full Korakuen Hall. It was a brilliant bout, a brutal war, and a great come from behind victory for Furuhashi. It deserved to have fans going wild over what we were seeing. Instead it sounded appreciative, rather than excited. It sounded respectful, rather than rapturous. It sounded mild instead of deafening.
4-Furuhashi wasn't going to be denied
This was Furuhashi's third shot at the title and at the age of 33 it was almost certainly going to be his last. Given the punishment he took in the bout a loss would have been incredibly hard to bounce back from, mentally and physically. He put everything he had into the bout. And that's really the key to this point. It was do or die and he wasn't going to be denied. He had his head snapped back multiple times, he took huge shots to the body and kept coming forward, and it didn't matter that he had to walk into the danger zone to get to his man. He wasn't going home empty handed here.
When a fighter has the mentality Furuhashi had here they are able to dig deeper and deeper than anyone can imagine and that showed as he fought like a man willing to go to the depths of hell for the title. He beat Kuga in part, due to his desire. His refusal to lose. It's rare we see a fighter dig as deep as Furuhashi did, but he showed exactly what the title meant to him, and how much he needed that belt.
5-The end for Kuga?
Yusaku Kuga is someone known for his brutal power and his durability. Or rather he was. Sadly this is now the third time in 6 fights that Kuga has been stopped, having also been worn down by Shingo Wake in 2018 and blasted out by Jhunriel Ramonal in 2019. With that in mind we do wonder if this is the end for him. He took a lot of punishment here, and he's also been in gruelling bouts with Ryoichi Tamura, twice and Yasutaka Ishimoto, in their first bout. A man can only go to the well so many times before his body says no more and we can't help but feel that might be where Kuga's body is right now. He has been on the wrong end of a lot of punishment during his 25 fight career, and it may well be time to hang them up, for the good of his long term health.
One of the most bizarre things about this sport is how a fighter reacts to having their senses scrambled. We all love the clean KO, where a fighter is flat out on the canvas, but sometimes things don't go that way. Another one we see is a fighter who, for all intents and purposes, is awake, but there senses are so screwed up that their legs and brain aren't quite in sync. They are are up right but have no idea where they are, where they want to be, or even who they are. Today we feature a finish that makes it seem like the recipient got drunk off a punch. They are stood up, but their legs really have no idea where they are, what they are doing, or what they are connected to.
Masakazu Satake (17-2-4, 10) vs Dindo Castanares (12-0-1, 9)
In 1999 Masakazu Satake claimed the OPBF Light Welterweight title, taking a close decision over Jong Kil Kim. He would defend the title numerous times whilst moving towards bigger bouts. During his reign he proved he could box or fight running up 8 defenses before April 2003. Included in those defenses were wins over notable fighters, like Rick Yoshimura and Hiroyuki Sakamoto. Despite being the champion though he hadn't been thought of as a KO artist, with just 10 early wins in his first 23 bouts. He would later go on to prove he did have genuine fight ending power, especially in 2003.
Part of what changed perception about Satake was his April 2003 bout against Filipino challenger Dindo Castanares.
Coming in Castanares was an unbeaten with a record that suggested he had solid pop in his shots. He hadn't scored any wins of note, and was stepping up, but seemed full of confidence and was certainly not there to just make up the numbers. He want the Oriental title. What ended up happening sadly began the downfall of his career and left him proving his toughness but having a rather remarkable KO loss to his name.
Through the first 7 rounds Satake boxed well and, for the most part, controlled the action against a man there to take his title away. Although Castanares was stepping up massively he wasn't embarrassing himself, and was giving a very credible effort, despite coming off second best against the champion. He seemed to be building his self belief and confidence, and although clearly behind he was giving the champion a genuine test.
And then we got to round 8, which was another round that saw the Filipino testing the champion, coming forward and being a nightmare for the more naturally talented champion. That nightmare came to an end with just over 70 seconds of the round left, as Satake landed a right hook high on the head of Castanares. The Filipino recovered to his feet quickly, but stumbled one way, then another, and another, as the referee continued the mandatory 8 count. Castanares continued to some how remain up right whilst stumbling all over the place. It was clear that whilst he was up he wasn't fit to continue. In fact looking at him, he likely would have failed a sobriety test. He looked drunk, as his body tried to get a hold of where he was.
This wasn't the most brutal of finishes, but was still a brilliant finish with a rather unique reaction from the man who was stopped. Sadly after this bout Castanares was never the same, going 4-6-1 before retiring from the sport. As for Satake he wouldn't really fight on much longer going 2-2 after this fight, though he did score a KO that we'll look at in the next "Reliving the Finish" in 2 weeks time!
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect former world champion Malcolm Tunacao to fellow former world champion Katsuya Onizuka
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Filipino fighter Malcolm Tunacao is somewhat forgotten now, though he had some real notable success early in his career. The most noteworthy of his achievements was his short lived WBC Flyweight world title reign. That reign began in 2000, when he beat Medgoen Singsurat, and lasted just 10 months, with Tuancao losing in his second defense, against Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Another former WBC Flyweight champion is Chan Hee Park, who dethroned the legendary Miguel Canto in 1979 for the belt, and made 5 defenses before being dethroned in May 1980.
2-Talented Korean Chan Hee Park made his professional debut on July 8th 1977, when he beat Chuji Muto in Busan. On the very same day fans in Queensland saw Tony Mudine retain the Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title with a win over Ernie Barr.
3-Of course Tony Mundine isn't the only fighter in the family, in fact it's fair to say he's not even the most famous fighter in the family. That's because his son is the controversial, out spoken, but talented, Anthony Mundine. Of course whilst Anthony Mudine was well known for his loud mouth he was a genuine notably fighter inside the ring, being a 2-time WBA "regular" Super Middleweight champion.
4-During his first reign as the WBA "regular" Super Middleweight champion Anthony Mundine made just a single defense, stopping Japan's Yoshinori Nishizawa in January 2004. This is one of the very few times a Japanese has fighter challenged for a Super Middleweight title is, and surprisingly saw Mundine being dropped, before stopping Nishizawa in round 5.
5-Prior to fighting for a world title, something he did twice, Yoshinori Nishizawa had been a notable figure on the Japanese domestic and regional scene. Much earlier in his career, way back in 1992, he faced off with future WBA Middleweight champion Shinji Takehara, who retained the Japanese Middleweight title with a decision over Nishizawa.
6-The debut of Shinji Takehara came way back on May 15th 1989, on a show at Korakuen Hall, where he stopped Masao Tadano in 4 rounds. On that very same card was future WBA Super Flyweight champion Katsuya Onizuka, with "Spanky K" stopping Masao Kawanishi in 2 rounds, to move to 8-0.
Last Friday we saw Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) make his first defense of the Japanese Super Featherweight, as he scored a 6th round TKO win over veteran Takuya Watanabe (37-10-1, 21), in what was Watanabe's third shot at a Japanese title. The bout, aired live on Boxing Raise, was was the first Japanese title fight of 2021 and was a hold over from last year's Champion Carnival, which was delayed due to the ongoing Pandemic, forcing a delay from April 2020 to January 2021.
With that bout now in the record books, and now re-watched we're going to share our views on the bout in the latest "Five Take Aways".
1-Saka has improved a lot in recent fights
Before the bout Kosuke Saka spoke about wanting to hit without getting hit, and seemed to have been training hard on becoming a better boxer. Through his career he has always been more of a puncher than a boxer, and it seemed strange for him to talk about such a drastic change after 25 professional bouts. To his credit however it really did show and he seemed a much better boxer than the man we saw take the Japanese title in 2019. That's not to say he's removed aspects of his style that make him such a dangerous fighter, he's still a dangerous puncher, which we'll get onto in a moment, but he's really improved from the man who was, for the most part, a rather basic come-forward pressure fighter with a lot of power. He's really improved his understanding of the ring, how to use his jab, how to fight going backwards and how to use space. Given his improvements, and the fact he is still incredibly dangerous, we really like this more rounded Saka who appears to have become a genuine boxer-puncher.
2-Saka punches like a mule
The obvious point, Saka punches stupidly hard. From the early going he seemed to get Watanabe's respect, something very few fighters have managed to do. Saka landed to both the head and body of Watanabe in round 1 and it really put Watanabe into a bit of a shell. Watanabe had success with his jab, using his reach, but he often looked worried about Saka's firepower. Given Watanabe is a known tough guy it was telling how quickly Saka's power seemed to worry the challenger.
In fairness Watanabe was right to be wary and that was shown in round 6 when Watanabe came forward trying to turn the tables after the open scoring at the end of round 5. The finish from Saka showed his power, and showed that he really is a brutal puncher. If Saka lands clean we have the feeling he can stop anyone in the Japanese and regional scene. Genuinely a dangerous, brutal, vicious puncher.
3-This wasn't as good as we expected
We got it wrong. Going in we were expecting a sure fire FOTY contender. The power and aggression of Saka against the skills and toughness of Watanabe seemed set to give us a bout that would start slowly and really gear up to something special. There were glimpses of this happening, but that's all we ever got. Glimpses. This was a surprisingly tame contest given the individuals involved.
Don't get us wrong, this wasn't a bad fight. It wasn't dull, and it didn't lack excitement. It just wasn't what we expected. It was underwhelming giving the fighters, but still a very solid fight overall. That's on us though, we had very, very high expectations. Sadly those expectations were offset by Watanabe not wanting to get too involved early on, Saka showing more versatility than usual, and the ending coming when it did.
4-This may have been a more competitive bout last April
We mentioned how Saka had been taking about working on hitting and not getting hit during the long break, he also turned got an extra 9 months to physically mature into a weight that he only moved into a few years ago. That extra 9 months almost certainly helped him. It possibly also hindered Watanabe. At 31 he's not an old man but he is an old fighter, and he would probably have been a slightly better fighter 9 months ago.
It's not a huge change difference on paper, but we can't help feel like Saka improved, mentally, physically, emotionally and in terms of ability. Watanabe on the other hand aged, got older and edged towards his 32nd birthday. Watanabe would also have known that this was almost certainly his last chance. Had he lost last April there was a small window for him to earn another title fight, now however that opportunity is almost certainly gone, and that may have added some extra pressure to him.
We might be wrong here, but we do have a very strong feeling the lengthy postponement favoured Saka a lot more than it favoured Watanabe.
5-The wars have probably caught up with Watanabe
It's rare for Japanese fighters in this day and age to fight more than 40 times. You can count the amount of active Japanese born fighters with 40 or more bouts to their name on one hand. The typical Japanese style does not make for long careers with lots of bouts. With that in mind it's perhaps not too much to suggest that the 31 year old Watanabe, who now has 48 bouts to his name, has started to feel the effects of his long career. Watanabe is an incredibly tough fighter. His blood bath with Jae Sung Lee proved that, as did his bouts with the likes of Satoshi Hosono, Yongqiang Yang and Taiki Minamoto. He has had a lot of tough bouts and those miles on his body will be adding up.
With that said we wouldn't be surprised if he decided to call it quits and retire after this loss.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).