The Light Flyweight division has become one of the most interesting in the sport the last few years, with a fantastic mix of fighters going through the division on their way through the weights and others making a name for themselves at the weight. Today we look at one of the lesser known Light Flyweight champions of the early 1980's, Tadashi Tomori.
We're not going to do a full profile of Tomori, who was only a very short term WBC champion in 1982, but instead here 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Tadashi Tomori!
1-As an amateur Tomori went 16-4 (3) winning an All-Japan high school title, before turning professional at the young age of 18. Interestingly he only actually began boxing in high school, explaining why his amateur career was so short.
2-Tomori was dubbed "Gushiken II" in Japan, after Yoko Gushiken. The two men had a few things in common, notably both were Light Flyweight world champions, both won their titles at a young age, both had very short careers and most notably both were from Okinawa. Of course his career was never able to hit the heady heights of the legendary Gushiken, who's lengthy title reign made him a Japanese boxing legend.
3-In February 1980 Tomori ended the Japanese title reign of Kazunori Tenryu to become the Japanese Light Flyweight champion. This saw Tomori become only the second man to hold the title since it was created in March 1975, ending Tenryu's reign which had included 16 defenses! Tomori would actually hold the Japanese Light Flyweight twice during his career, only Tomohiro Kiyuna (3) would hold the title more times. Tomori, Hideyuki Ohashi and Kenichi Horikawa are all tied for second place with 2 reigns each.
4-Only 1 of Tomori's first 11 bouts ended inside the distance! Whilst he was never regarded as puncher he was 10-1 (1) at one point, with his only stoppage at that point coming in his third professional bout. Strangely his his next 3 wins would then be by stoppage and he would go from 10-1 (1) to 13-2 (4).
5-Tomori was the 5th world champion trained by the legendary Eddie Townsend. It wasn't who originally trained Tomori however, that was Masahiro Misako, with Townsend only actually training him from early 1982, the same year that Tomori scored his biggest win, a decision over Amado Ursua for the WBC Light Flyweight title. Notably he was also Misako's third world champion.
6-Rather oddly Tomori was the only Japanese fighter to be crowned a world champion in 1982. Other Japanese fighters successfully defended world titles but no one else won a new title during the year. In fact no Japanese fighter was actually crowned a world champion in 1983.
7-Having mentioned Tomori debuted at the age of 18 it's worth noting he retired young, and we mean REALLY young. He was only 22 when he fought for the final time in November 1982. Meaning his entire 26 fight professional career lasted just 4 years and 6 months!
8-When Tomori won his world title he became the 4th man from Okinawa to achieve the feat and the third at Light Flyweight, following Yoko Gushiken and Katsuo Tokashiki.
9-Following his retirement from fighting Tomori went on to manage a boutique.
10-The boutique wasn't the only post-retirement activity of note regarding Tomori, who has spent multiple spells as a trainer at the Shirai Gushiken Gym, the gym run by Yoko Gushiken. He was Daigo Higa's trainer for his return bout earlier this year.
One thing we often think about when we do these articles is whether or not fans will realise just how big some of the shocks were. Sometimes we know they will, the records and reputations of the fighters involved make it impossible not to see an upset as an upset. Sometimes however the upset is less obvious when we look back over something from the past. That usually happens when the fighter who scores the upset goes on to be better known than the fighter they beat. Today we look at one such example, and in fact this is an example where the supposed favourite was deemed the very clear favourite. They had a world title, they had the momentum, they seemingly had everything going in to the bout. That was except for the fact the under-dog knew their career was over if they lost again here.
December 31st 2012
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
Tepparith Kokietgym (21-2, 13) Vs Kohei Kono (27-7, 10)
In May 2011 Thailand's Tepparith Kokietgym began to make a name for himself, beating Drian Francisco for the WBA "interim" Super Flyweight title. In the months that followed he was promoted to "Regular" champion and in December 2011 he beat Daiki Kameda to make his first defense of that title. That was a solid win for the Thai who then return to Japan 4 months later and stopped "Champion in Recess" Tomonobu Shimizu, to unify the WBA title. That was again a really good win for Tepparith who was starting to build a reputation as an under-rated fighter who was enjoying Japanese rings. That reputation grew further still when he beat 2-time WBA champion Nobuo Nashiro. That was a third straight win against a Japanese fighter in Japan, and saw him being dubbed a Japan Killer.
Not only was Tepparith riding a real hot streak in Japan, and the WBA champion but he had won 18 in a row, having last lost in more than 4 years earlier, in a bout against Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. The 24 year old appeared to be a man with a seriously bright future.
In the opposite corner was Japan's Kohei Kono, who was barely in the WBA's top 10. He was a 32 year old, who had lost in two previous world title fights, including one to Nashiro. He was seen as being beyond his best years, and even at his best he was nothing special, despite being regarded as incredibly durable which lead him to being dubbed the "Tough Boy". With 7 losses form his 34 bouts it seemed like this would be a final shot at the top before retirement, something that seemed almost certain if he lost...again. It wasn't like he was even losing to the best in the world, or that all of his losses had come early in his career either. Whilst he had lost on debut he had also lost 3 of his previous 5 bouts coming into this one, including a loss to the then 2-0 Yohei Tobe.
Of the Japanese fighters involved in world title fights on December 31st 2012, he was the one given the least chance. He was seen as the one true under-dog for the day, with the fantastic Boxmob holding a poll that saw 77% of people favoured Tepparith, 1%going with the draw. The least likely outcome was an early win for Kono, with only 9% of those polled going with that outcome, not a suprise with Kono having just 10 stoppages in 34 bouts.
The first round saw the champion looking to get behind his jab, though to his credit Kono did start fairly fast, and was busy from the off. After a very good opening minute for the Japanese challenger the champion began to settle, landing some solid shots of his own, and took the center of the ring. It was a close and competitive round, but one where the extra class of the champion seemed to do just enough to nick it.
In round 2 we again saw some nice back and forth, but the crisp boxing of the champion, and more consistent approach to his work seemed to again be the difference. Kono wasn't there to lose, but just seemed to be getting caught by the better shots as the skills from the Thai caught the eye. Both offensive and defensively Tepparith just seemed that bit better better than the hungry, and tough, Kono.
Kono continued trying in round 3 and landed some good shots, as he had in every round, but was being out landed and had his head snapped back mid way through the round. He seemed to be working much harder for every moment of success, whilst Tepparith looked calm, relaxed, and almost like he was doing things effortlessly. The last shots in the exchanges seemed to come from the Thai who looked in control, for the most part.
Then we get to round 4. As if out of no where Kono managed to find some really clean and effective shots. Just seconds into the round he landed a jab and forced Tepparith back, a left hook on the jaw landed not long afterwards then a right hand. The a body shot. He was putting his foot on the gas and landing solid shots, and soon afterwards came a beauty of a left hook sending Tepparith down. The Thai got up but looked wobbly as Kono went for the kill, sending a still wobbly Tepparith down for the second time. Their was no doubting the fight in the champion, who got to his feet a second time. Kono knew this was his chance, and refused to let Tepparith off the hook pressing, pressuring, putting on the jets and dropping the Thai for the third time. That forced the referee to stop the bout, under the three knockdown rule.
The emotion of the new champion was on show immediately as he celebrated with his team, in the corner, before going over to thank promoter Hitoshi Watanabe. He had managed to shock us all, and, at the age of 32, scored a career defining win, taking a world title against all the odds. Ending not only the reign of Tepparith but also Tepparith's streak as a Japan killer.
For Tepparith this was the end of him as a top tier fighter. Strangely he sort of just drifted in the sport, winning 14 more bouts before leaving the sport with a 35-3 (22) record, this being his only stoppage loss. As for Kono his reign was a short one,losing the title in his first defense, before recapturing it in 2014 and making 3 defenses, including one against fellow Japanese fighter Koki Kameda in Chicago. He would continue on until 2018, facing the likes of Naoya Inoue and Rex Tso, before hanging them as a 2-time world champion with a 33-12-1 (14) record.
Although never the best in his weight Kono would become a fan favourite, and one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.
This week we get to look at another often forgotten fighter from Japan as we bring you some more midweek facts. The man we're looking at this week is Ryuji Migaki (17-4, 13), who fought as a professional between 2004 and 2012 and despite not having the longest or most successful career was certainly a noteworthy fighter. From his 21 professional bouts he fought in 7 title bouts, won both the Japanese and OPBF Lightweight titles and fought a number of notable names whilst being the star of the MT Boxing Gym.
During his career Migaki beat the likes of Yoshitaka Kato, Ichitaro Ishii, Kengo Nagashima and Shoji Kawase. He also suffered losses to the likes of Akihro Kondo, Nihito Arakawa and Takashi Miura, with the Miura bout being his final bout before he retired.
With that little introduction out of the way, lets take a look at this weeks facts!
1-Migaki graduated from the Kansai High School before going to the Komazawa University. Rather interestingly Satoshi Shimizu also attended both, though obviously the two men were not in the same classes as they were born several years apart.
2-As an amateur Migaki went 52-18 (30) and won the Light Welterweight title at the National Sports festival in 1998.
3-Following his successful amateur career Migaki debuted on a card headlined by two world title fights, and was actually beaten. He lost in 2 rounds to Kodai Kiyota, despite having his impressive amateur pedigree. Two interesting things about this bout is that it took place at 140lbs, rather than Lightweight which is where Migaki would spend the rest of his career, and that the result saw Kiyota move to 6-1 (6). We really need to wonder why his team put him in with a puncher like Kiyota on debut, who had stopped 4 opponents in the opening round prior to facing Migaki.
4-Migaki was scheduled to defend the OPBF Lightweight title on May 17th 2010, as part of a card headlined by the then WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama. Sadly Migaki's scheduled opponent, Hee Jae Cho was forced to pull out of the fight on very short notice due to pneumonia. As a result Migaki sparred with Masayuki Koguchi, who was famous in Japan at the time as the "Wig Boxer", due to the fact he wore a wig for one of his fights. [More about "The Wig Boxer" can be found here Tales from the East - Masayuki Koguchi the "Wig Boxer"]
5-After his career ended Migaki became a trainer at the Kyoei Boxing gym.
This past weekend we saw former world title challenger Shingo Wake (27-6-2, 19) return to the ring and score a dominant win over fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima. The win was one that saw Wake dropping Kawashima 4 times, and looked like he was in cruise control for the most part with his brilliant counter punching being the main difference between the two men.
Following that win we were actually asked what was next for Wake, and whilst we really don't know, there are a lot of interesting options out there for the popular Japanese southpaw right now. With that in mind we're going to take a look at potential opponents for Wake as we give him the Five For... treatment this week.
Unfortunately Wake isn't currently world ranked, and this means he's unlikely to get some of the fights we'd like to see, for example a showdown with Hiroaki Teshigawara, due to the risk-reward of fighting him. But there are still a lot of interesting options out there and some really are fantastic match ups.
1-Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10) III
Our first choice for Wake's next bout would be a rubber match with Filipino slugger Jhunriel Ramonal. The first bout between the two saw Wake stop Ramonal way back in 2013, to retain the OPBF Super Bantamweight title. A rematch last year saw Ramonal get revenge with a brutal KO of Wake, in a massive upset. That rematch was supposed to be one final bout before Wake get a second world title bout, but ended up dashing any chances of a shot at a top title. Now a third bout between the two would be brilliant and the winner would certainly be on the verge of a world title fight. The bout would let Ramonal prove his win wasn't a fluke, it would allow Wake a chance for revenge, and would also, potentially, be fore the WBO Asia Pacific title and a lofty world ranking. Style wise it would be an interesting fight between aggressive slugger and skilled counter puncher and with the previous results we know either man can win.
2-Jeo Santisima (19-3, 16)
Staying with Filipino fighters a second Pinoy option for Wake would be recent world title challenger Jeo Santisima, The 24 year old came up very short against Emanuel Navarrete in February and hasn't fought since then, but does have that recency value as a very recent world title challenger. That, alone, is worth something and a win over him would mean something, even if Santisima did show that he didn't belong at that level. Style wise Santisima should make Wake look really good, with the Filipino being aggressive and open, the sort of style that Wake loves to pick apart. We suspect that this could be easy to make when travel from Philippines to Japan is made possible, and would likely be one that Santisima would take if offered. It should, however, be said that at the moment Santisima's promotional situation is unclear after ALA closed, and he could end up actually moving over to Japan and signing up with one of their gyms down the line. This would be an interesting one to watch, and could open doors for Santisima, win or lose.
3-Ryohei Takahashi (18-4-1, 8)
Staying with the idea of Wake looking to face off with recent world title challengers, a bout with former IBF title challenger Ryohei Takahashi, who lost to TJ Doheny, may also be an attractive option for Wake, if the bout can be made. Takahashi, like many others on this list, has a style that looks like it could be well suited to making Wake look good, and does so without too much risk as Takahashi doesn't have fight changing 1-punch power. If Wake and his team and looking for someone to make their make look sensational Takahashi should be getting a call. As for Takahashi he may feel his pressure and relentlessness would eventually get to Wake, meaning he does have a chance, but it's a slim one.
4-TJ Doheny (22-2, 16)
As a neutral the bout that would be the biggest would be a contest between Wake and former IBF champion TJ Doheny, who is known in Japan for his win against Ryosuke Iwasa. From what we understand neither of these two are currently world ranked, but both certainly want a big fight. Both are fringe world class, at absolute worst, and both have suffered major upsets in recent bouts. With both men being in their 30's time is ticking down on their days in the sport and both need a noteworthy win to get back into the mix. Given that this is a perfect bout to make, and one that wouldn't just be meaningful in terms of their standing in the sport, but also really interesting from an in ring perspective. Both fighters are good southpaws both guys like to box, and bother have under-rated bang in their hands. The winner of this would certainly help their chances of getting another world title fight and it would be a really good, and very makable, bout.
5-Abigail Medina (20-4-2, 10)
A left of center choice to end this is Spanish based Dominican fighter Abigail "Bebe" Medina. The aggressive Medina has fought in Japan before, losing to Tomoki Kameda and had a fan friendly, aggressive, pressure style. He walked through the shots of Kameda and pressed through out. That sort of style would test Wake, be very fan friendly, and would draw the best from Wake. The aggression and pressure of Medina against the skills, movement and counter punching of Wake would make for an amazing dynamic and a really good bout that neither man could afford to lose. If Wake's team are looking for a potential international bout for Wake this would be the one we'd love to see. Although Wake can be effective on the front foot he's better off fighting as a counter puncher, and Medina would give him those opportunities.
On Sunday live from Kazakhstan we had the chance to see Kamshybek Kunkabayev (1-0, 1) make his professional debut, as he easily defeated Issa Akberbayev (20-2-0-1, 15) in 2 rounds. The bout wasn't a fun or exciting one, in fact as a spectacle it was dire, and we'll get on to why in a few moments, but it was also an impressive debut for a man that many feel will be a big star in the professional ranks in the coming years.
Whilst we didn't really enjoy the bout, again we'll explain why shortly, it was a bout that we felt deserved the treat of a Take Aways article because there was a lot to take from the bout, despite how lacking it was in terms of entertainment.
1-Issa Akberbayev came to lose
Entering with a 20-1-0-1 (15) record it's fair to have assumed Issa Akberbayev would have come to win. He didn't. In fact he barely even came to fight. Within moments of the fight starting he was on the back foot and never really changed that tactic, preferring to avoid a fight than try to win. This may have been a surprise but in reality Akberbayev's record really is one that should have told us all we needed to know. He was without a win in more than 2 years, with his last victory coming against Mirnes Denadic in December 2017, he was 36, had lost last time out and his competition, for the most part, had been very limited.
Whilst Akberbayev was tagged a fair few times in the opening round his attitude after being tagged said it all. "I don't want to be here". On paper his name, and record, will look very nice on Kunkabayev's record but in reality Akberbayev gave him nothing even close to representing a test.
2-Kamshybek Kunkabayev looked real good!
Although he had an ultra negative opponent Kamshybek Kunkabayev himself looked really good, kept his composure, didn't show his frustration, controlled the center of the ring and applied intelligent pressure behind his long jabs. This was calculated, smart, intelligent and controlled. What we saw from Kunkabayev looked smooth, it looked easy and it looked like he was really well schooled. Also for such a big man he is quick, accurate, sharp and his footwork was very good for someone making his debut. He was up against a frustrating opponent but settled well and controlled everything at his own pace.
3-The Tokyo Games have a real medal contender in Kamshybek Kunkabayev
For those unaware Kamshybek Kunkabayev didn't turn professional with the idea of being moved quickly through the professional ranks. Instead this bout, and maybe one or two others, are more about keeping his fitness up and fine tuning things, before the now postponed Tokyo Olympics. Given how he looked here it's very clear he's going to be in the medal mix. For those that follow the amateur scene that would have already been known, given he's a 2-time World Amateur Silver medal winner, but for those that don't follow amateur boxing, this bout showed the talent he has and for those looking for ones to watch at the Olympics make sure you remember his name.
Interestingly Kunkabayev is a Super Heavyweight in amateur boxing but fought as a professional Cruiserweight. It'll be interesting to see if he comes in "light" at the Olympics.
4-MTK shows shows really lack atmosphere
We need to start this by saying that we loved the venue for this show, it had a lot going on in the background and it looked interesting outside of the ring, something we've not always seen in the fan-free era of boxing. Sadly though that was about the only thing done to try and see an atmosphere. The venue was pretty much silent. We understand why there was no fans but something needs to be done to try and keep fans attention, especially when someone is fighting with Akberbayev's negativity.
The problem goes far beyond this fight, and is a general with MTK shows in general. It's probably not helped by the fact that the commentators, whilst very good and two of the best in Britain, are both subdued and insightful. Typically we love that type of commentary, but it sadly amplifies the near silence of the venue. Maybe they could try pumping crowd noises in or play background music, or something just to spice things up.
5-Top amateurs can be fast tracked
Whilst we weren't impressed by Akberbayev, at all, it was clear that Kunkabayev is a special talent. He showed to be very excited about and showed, like many other top amateurs fighters who are turning professional recently, that they are pretty much "pro-ready" fighters. We've seen it with a number of other fighters and it seems clear that there is a lot of amateur talent with styles than will work in the pro's. Kunkabayev's style probably does need tweaking for the pros, but it's clear he has the tools to be moved quickly.
We've seen the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Oleksandr Usyk and Naoya Inoue being moved quickly. The same can be said for the likes of Kunkabayev, and Tursynbay Kulakhmet. He's 28 now and we hope, after the Tokyo games, MTK push him fast and hard towards some notable professional opponents as he's already good enough to be mixing with top 50 type fighters.
On Saturday we got the chance to see the best and worst in female boxing. Late in the day Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon put on a sensational bout in the UK. A few hours before that we saw Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (11-1, 6) defeat the hapless Happy Daudi (8-7-1, 4) in Kazan, in a show case of how bad female boxing can be.
For those who missed the bout we've broken down contest in our latest Take Aways article.
1-Happy Daudi was terrible
The Tanzanian fighter really didn't look like she belonged in the ring at all. Physically she looked like she was carrying excess weight and was unfit but that was only one of her issues. The more serious issue was her punching technique, it would be a compliment to say it was terrible. She was falling short with her punches, throwing them miles out of range, and often flailing so badly off balance that it was amazing Sharipova wasn't countering her. Sadly for Daudi her defense was hardly better than her defense and the only really notable trait was her ability to take shots from Sharipova. Given how bad she was we can only wonder about the complete ineptitude of the fighters she has beaten.
2-Sharipova needs to avoid every top fighter for the foreseeable future
Although Daudi was absolutely dreadful the fight also showed how poor Sharipova was. The Kazakh, who had been out of the ring for over a year, looked a million miles away from the top fighters between 130lbs and 140lbs. In recent weeks we've seen the likes of Katie Taylor, Jessica McCaskill, Delfine Persoon, Mikaela Mayer, Terry Harper and Natasha Jonas in action. On the back of this, and their recent fights, they would all deal with Sharipova very easily. She does some things nicely but she really slaps with her right hand, gets little power in her body shots, lacks power, and took 5 rounds to make a human punch quit. This was an easy win for Sharipova, but not an impressive performance, and not one which will strike fear into any top fight fighter in, or around, her weight class.
3-Sharipova needs to concentrate on her boxing career
On the subject of Sharipova she really does need to focus on her career if she wants to make her name in the sport. In Kazakhstan she seems to have fans, but also seems to open herself up to trolling and abuse from the media. She seems to be someone who gets a lot of attention for non-boxing reasons and it feels more like she's a media creation, who like to feature her for her looks, than a potential boxing world champion. Issues out side of the ring haven't helped her career grow and she had a lot of work to do to be a star in the ring. She's a million miles from the top fighters but bouts at this level don't help her either. Bout like this one continue to make her look like a joke. Her team need to get her developmental fights, she needs to learn things from her bouts, and need to work on her punching technique and her defense. Daudi was never going to be good enough to make her sharpen up. Bouts like this will do more harm than good for the Kazakh, who needs to be tested. With that said the previously planned rematch with Sofya Ochigava should be the target for her next outing.
4-The IBA are a joke!
We all want to laugh at the WBA and the WBC for their weird rankings, bad decision making and creation of extra titles. They are supposed to be taken seriously and don't.The IBA however just proved, once again, they were a joke. They actually allowed this farce to be for their "world" title. Neither fighter should have been anywhere close to a world title fight, even for a body seen as badly as the IBA. For these "smaller" bodies to get some respect they need to stop sanctioning bouts like this. For those who want to know just how stupid this bout was from a title perspective, this was the first IBA Light Welterweight title bout in 7 years! The belt's only previous champion was the legendary Holly Holm. This bout really does crap on what legacy the belt once head.
5-Women's boxing will struggle for respect whilst we still get this level of fight
Women's boxing has been on a roll recently and we've had some incredible bouts between female fighters at the elite level of the sport. We know that the women can bring it, and can give us bouts that deserve the limelight. Sadly whilst we are getting some amazing bouts we are still getting bouts like this one. Thankfully very few fans have seen this bout, but for us the worry is that bouts like this can be used as an example of how women's boxing is. There are the top women, who are brilliant, but there is a lack of them. Then we have too many fights like this, showing there is a very steep drop off between the best in the sport and the rest.
When we see a fighter with what we know is a solid chin being dropped it can awe us in a way that a typical KO doesn't. Today we look at a brutal KO from 2019 that left us in awe. We had seen a steel chin not just cracked, but burst and smashed with single spectacular shot. Not only was the shot a beauty but the way the recipient went down was even better, taking this from a great finish into a sensational one.
Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) Vs Akihiro Kondo (37-7-1, 18)
In February 2019 we got an IBF World title eliminator at 140lbs between teak tough Japanese veteran Akihiro Kondo and unknown Thai Downua Ruawaiking. On paper this seemed likely to be a really interesting match up. It was a test for both the young unbeaten fighter and a chance to Kondo to get a second shot, following a hard fought loss to the hard hitting Sergey Lipinets. What few would have expected was one of the most stunning finishes of the year.
As previously mentioned Kondo had already had a shot at the top losing to Sergey Lipinets. Prior to losing to Lipinets we had seen Kondo prove himself to be teak tough, hard working and a very talented fighter even if he was somewhat flawed. During his previous 45 bouts Kondo had beaten the likes of Valentine Hosokawa, Yoshitaka Kato, Rimrex Jaca, Shogo Yamaguchi and Jeffrey Arienza whilst winning domestic and regional honour.
Despite losing to Lipinets in 2017 we had seen Kondo take big shots and walkthrough through them, showing not just an iron chin but also an incredible will to win and incredible physical strength, forcing back the hard hitting Kazakh-born Russian.
Ruawaiking on the other hand had never even fought outside of Thailand. He was a prospect, but a relatively unknown one, who's best wins were against lower level regional competition, like Sonny Katiandagho and Adam Diu Abdulhamid, who had run him super closer. He was young, strong, tough and big at the weight, but very much unproven. The view was that if he was going to win it would be by out boxing Kondo, using his legs and movement, and making the most of the fact that Kondo was so much older than he was.
Despite being seen as the under-dog Downua had impressed in the first 4 rounds, doing what we had seen as his only way to win. He was boxing, moving, sticking the jab in Kondo's face and keeping things long. When Kondo was up close the Thai landed some solid shots of his own, but in the first 4 rounds he never seemed to buzz the Japanese fighter.
In round 5 however things changed, and of boy did they ever change in a dramatic and eye catching fashion!
Just after the half way point of round 5, which is where we join the fight for the finish, we see Downua land a massive right uppercut. The shot sent Kondo down like a an Angel who had just been hit in the head with a cannonball. The cast iron chin of Kondo had been smashed. His heart and will power were still there as he tried to beat the count, some how not being out cold, but he had no idea where he was when he was upright.
This was brilliantly eye catching, and a brilliant way for Downua to put himself on the map.
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 Manny Pacquiao opponent Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov, who we finished with last week, to former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
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-It's fair to say that Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov is best known for his fight with Manny Pacquiao. Since that bout he the Kazakh has retired from in ring action and currently works in boxing as an official. In 2009 he was the referee of a bout between veteran DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley and Kenyan fighter James Kimori, in what was then known as Astana.
2-Around 3 months before DeMarcus Corley beat James Kimori he was on another card in Kazakhstan, this time in Shymkent. That card, on May 9th 2000, also featured a then promising Kazakh fighter called Beibut Shumenov, who beat Byron Mitchell in 4 rounds to move to 8-0.
3-Rather interestingly Beibut Shumenov made his debut on November 17th 2007, stopping Walter Edwards inside a round. That was the same day that Naomi Togashi had her first professional contest. fighting in Thailand where she beat Panda Or Yutthachai in 3 rounds and began her rise as one of the most pivotal figures in Japanese female boxing.
4-Whilst Naomi Togashi was one of the first major names of Japanese female boxing she's obviously not the only one. Rather amazingly she wasn't the only one born on July 31st, with Togashi sharing her birthday with Momo Koseki, albeit with Togashi being born 7 years earlier than Koseki.
5-In May 2013 Momo Koseki featured on a card in Hong Kong, where she stopped Eun Young Huh. On the same card fans also saw Hong Kong's then rising star Rex Tso defeated former WBC "interim" Minimumweight champion Wandee Singwancha, stopping Singwancha in 4 rounds for a then career best win.
6-Although Rex Tso never won a world title he did hold a number of minor titles, including the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title. This is a title has also been won by former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Fans who come here every week for these mini fact pieces will this midweek series really doesn't have the biggest names, but the hope is to help give those fighters bit of extra attention. Today we shine a light on a fighter that really does deserve more attention. It's someone who dominated the Japanese national scene for several years and seemed to be lined up for a world title fight. He also fought at a higher weight than your typical Japanese fighters.
Today, for our 5 Midweek Facts series, we're looking at Akira Ohigashi (39-8-3, 26), who made his name at Light Middleweight, where he won the Japanese title. His career ran from 1988 to 2003, featured exactly 50 pro bouts, and then saw him move on to a different combat sport. He would then return to boxing for a role behind the scene.
1-Ohigahi scored a hugely impressive 10 defenses of the Japanese Light Middleweight title between December 1996 and May 1999. That is the second longest reign, in terms of defense, the title has ever had. Although impressive in terms of raw numbers it's half as good as the defenses record for the belt, set at a staggering 20 by Hitoshi Kamiyama.
2-Ohigashi was lined up for a world title fight against Javier Castillejo in February 2001, in Madrid. That bout got cancelled however when Castillejo ended up injured, and was then given a more attractive offer to face Oscar De La Hoya on his return from injury that June. Castillejo would lose to De La Hoya, but pocket a significantly better financial payment than facing the unheralded Japanese fighter. Reportedly Casillejo got around $800,000 to face the "Golden Boy".
3-The end of Ohigashi's professional boxing career was a sad one. Whilst he was 33 he was still very much a solid fighter, though he did have some out of the ring issues. Thankfully however Ohigashi avoided the downfall of some fighters as he transitioned from to K-1, where he recorded a 3-3 record.
Ohigashi's move to K-1 may have actually played a part in a JBC rule changed that meant boxers who moved from boxing to other martial arts were then unable to get certain boxing licenses, excluding them from returning to the sport in some way. This rule was made a month after Ohigashi's K-1 debut.
4-Following his short 6 fight K-1 career Ohigashi became the chairman of the Atsumi Boxing Gym, which at the time has the very promising Masao Nakamura among it's ranks.
5-Ohigashi's son is part of a Japanese comedy due called "DOUBLE Higashi"
On Saturday we saw the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament come to a conclusion with Daisuke Watanabe (11-4-2, 6) taking a unanimous decision over Shingo Kusano (13-9-1, 5) in the final. It was a brilliant fight, one of the best bouts we've seen since boxing returned a few months ago, and was fought between two men desperate to win, despite both men coming in to the ring with losses to their name. This was brilliant from the off, and got better and better as it went on.
It needs to be said that this was not the final that we expected when we saw the tournament bracket last year, but it was, in the end, the perfect way to end the tournament. With that said what exactly did we take away from this bout?
1-We need more tournaments in boxing!
This isn't something new, but it is something that needs repeating. Tournaments in boxing are brilliant, and should be a format used a lot more in bouts at a domestic, or regional level. Whether they are 7 man tournament, which this was, or a 4 man tournament, or something more extravagant, such as the Rookie of the Year or The Fighter, tournaments do give some great moments. Coming in to these the fighters have something to battle for, such as a cash prize or a title fight, fans know every bout in the tournament will have meaning, and in the end there are something that sells a longer story. Boxing is too focused on the here and now and forget that it needs to keep fans coming back. A tournament gives an over arching story, and that is a reason to continue to follow the fighters, at least for the short term.
If boxing promoters need some ideas for their mid-tier talent, a tournament is the right option!
2-These two can take a shot!
Prior to this fight Watanabe had been stopped in 2 of his 4 losses and Kusano had been stopped in 3 of his is 8. From their 12 combined losses, 5 were by stoppage. That would suggest that both men had questionable durability right? Well that sure didn't show here as both men landed a huge number of shots and neither man looked like they were close to being stopped. The final 3 rounds saw the two trading bombs in the pocket and providing some sensational back and forth. After seeing this fight we can safely say, both these men can take a shot!
3-Records really are for DJ's
With a combined 23-12-3 (11) record coming in to this bout it would be easy to say these two aren't talented. In fact we dare say some reading this without having seen the fight might say just that. The reality however is that both men are very, very good fighters. Both know their way around the ring, both can box, both can fight. These aren't guys who have records indicative of their talent. Instead they are fighters who have faced stiff competition and picked up losses.
People might like seeing an "0" in a fighters loss column, but in reality a lot of the best fights that happen in global boxing come between fights with losses on their record. This was a great example of that, and really over-delivered, giving us a brilliant fight, despite the perceived limitations of the two men, on paper.
4-Unique prizes can make for an interesting incentive.
We mentioned this bout was the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament final. The bout was being fought for a large financial prize and the bonus of having the winning fighter immortalised in Jyoji Morikawa's legendary fictional work. This was something Watanabe himself admitted he wanted to win before the final. Whilst it's certainly a unique prize for winning a bout we can't help but feel that having something out there for the winner of bouts could add the occasion.
We see belts tossed around all the time. The idea of being a "world champion" is being devalued by the week. We regional and international titles tossed around like they are candy. But truly 1-off prizes in this sport are rare. The closest thing we can thing of is the Muhammad Ali Trophy. It would be somewhat cool to see sponsors and the like getting involved in the sport to offer truly unique and exclusive prizes for fighters. If both fighters want the prize that's up for grabs we expect to see them both digging deeper and really going for it.
With that in mind, a UFC style financial incentive for KO's and Fight of the Night is also something we'd like to see more of.
We understand this prize is "so Japanese", but the reality is that other countries could almost certainly do something similar if they thought bout it enough.
5-Japanese referees are fantastic
We often complain about referees stepping in too soon, or too late, or not doing enough about holding and spoiling. We rarely give referees credit when they do a great job. Here however Nobuhiro Matsubara did a great job. It was rare that we saw him, he let the action flow, he maintained continued have a great view of the action, a clean line of site and kept himself out of the picture. Whilst this was a relatively easy fight to referee, he did only what he needed to and split them when they were wrapped up and told them to watch their heads. He let them fight on the inside, allowing for the great action we ended up getting. One thing we see in the West is referees not allowing inside work often enough, but here the referee allowed it as often as possible and didn't instantly break them.
It's not just Nobuhiro Matsubara who has done a great job, but so many of the referees in Tokyo at the moment. They are some of the best in the sport right now and hopefully they begin to get some of the big jobs that seem to be reserved for a very small handful of officials who have been consistently making big mistakes on the big occasions.
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).