When we talk about the best fighters to never win a world title we see a lot of names thrown out there. For Japanese boxing it's fair to say that Eijiro Murata was probably the best from the country to never win a belt at the top level. The talented Bantamweight went 24-2-3 (15) during his career which ran from 1976 to 1983 and fought for world titles 4 times, he was a long term Oriental champion and an excellent talent who was unfortunate to come through in a time period before the WBO and IBF.
Despite his failure to win a world title Murata is still a notable figure in Japanese boxing history and someone everyone should know more about. With that in mind, here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Eijiro Murata!
1-Murata fought out of the Kaneko boxing gym, both as an amateur and as a professional. As a professional he we the gym's third overall champion and their first OPBF champion, following in the footsteps of two national champions.
2-As an amateur Murata ran up a very impressive 78-10 (43) record. One of those 10 losses came to the excellent Hitoshi Ishigaki in the All Japanese championships, which ended up preventing Murata from going to the Olympics.
3-As a professional Murata fought only 2 bouts scheduled for less than 10 rounds. He had his debut, over 6 rounds, his second bout, over 8 rounds, 10 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds, 13 bouts scheduled for 12 rounds and 4 bouts scheduled for 15 rounds.
4-In just his third professional Murata beat the then Japanese Bantamweight champion Hisami Numata in 8 rounds. That was however in a non-title bout, fought above the Bantamweight limit. Notably Numata was just a year removed from a close loss in a world title bout against the then WBC Bantamweight champion Rodolfo Martinez.
5-After winning the OPBF Bantamweight title in December 1978 Murata made 12 defenses before vacating the title around 5 years later. Those 12 defenses still stand as record for the title, with no one else having double digit defenses of the belt.
6-Murata took part in his retirement ceremony in March 1984, in a show that was part of the "Guts Fighting" series.
7-In 1989 Murata began to guide Hiroki Ioka, helping Ioka rebound following his loss to Napa Kiatwanchai.
8-After retiring from his in ring Murata became the chairman of the Eddie Townsend Gym, and trained Noriyuki Komatsu to the OPBF Flyweight title.
9-Although Murata failed in his 4 world title shots at Bantamweight he was from the same prefecture, Shiga, as Shinsuke Yamanaka who famously went on to have a long and successful reign with the WBC Bantamweight title, a belt that Murata challenged Lupe Pintor for in 1981.
10-Eiijiro's older brother Katsumi Murata was part of Japanese band "High Society", as the band's drummer. Katsumi would later leave the band, in 1973, to form "Super Ages", before forming "Question" and later "Katsumi Murata and High Questions"
We all like a bit of randomness in our lives and today we give you, our readers, something a bit random, with 10 random facts.
1-In his 40 fight professional career Nobuhiro Ishida only twice scored an opening round win. The first of those didn't come until his 31st bout, when he famously stopped James Kirkland. This was the first loss of Kirkland's career and Ishida's first bout on US soil. His only other opening round stoppage came in his very next bout, when he stopped novice Edson Espinoza in Mexico.
2-Japan's Keiichi Ozaki (19-17-2, 2) holds a very odd distinction of having TWICE won tie breaker rounds in tournaments. The first of those was officially a 6 round draw against Seiji Asakawa in 1988, with Ozaki winning the tie breaker round to, and the second came in 1990 against Kazuhiro Ogasawara, with the bout officially ending in an 8 round draw, with Ozaki winning the tie breaker round. Given how rare tie break rounds are we think Ozaki may well have the distinction of being the only fighter to have won two of them. Incidentally both bouts are officially recorded as draws, his only two professional draws.
3-At the time of writing no Filipino boxer has ever won an Olympic gold medal, though they do have 5 medals, with 2 silvers and 3 bronze. The first of those medals was won in 1932 by José Villanueva, who took bronze at Bantamweight. It was 32 years later until the next Filipino Olympic boxing medal winner, Anthony Villanueva, won a silver medal. José and Anthony were father and son! Rather oddly their latest medal was won 32 years after Anthony's medal.
4-The first ever world title bout at Minimumweight was an IBF title bout! That bout came on June 14th 1987 and saw Kyung Yung Lee defeat Masaharu Kawakami for the inaugural title. The very same title was also the last world title to be defended over 15 rounds, with that happening in the August 1988 bout between Samuth Sithnaruepol and In Kyu Hwang. Strangely Samuth's win over In Kyu Hwang was just the title's third ever bout!
5-Japan's Yoichiro Hanada, a boxer who's career spanned from 1933 to 1952, recorded a single stoppage win in 160 bouts. It's worth noting that he wasn't a career loser, in fact he had a record of 93-37-28 (1). We believe, this is the most fights a fighter has won to record just a single stoppage. Although he only scored a stoppage in 0.63% of his career fights it should be noted that he did, apparently, fight with a handicap. Japanese sites report that he was missing a finger!
6-Rather oddly 3 of the first 4 Japanese world champions were trained by American trainers. Alvin Robert Cahn trained Yoshio Shirai, whilst Eddie Townsend trained Takeshi Fuji* and Hiroyuki Ebihara. The one Japanese fighter from this early era who wasn't an American trained but still won a world title was the legendary Fighting Harada.
7-Not all top Uzbek amateur standouts turn out to be professional standouts. The country's first boxer to win an Olympic medal, under the Uzbek flag, was Karim Tulaganov, who won bronze in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He went 1-4 as a professional, turning pro in 1999 and having his final bout in 2002. It should be noted that before 1996 as either part of the Russian Empire, Soviet Unitied or the Unified Team. Their athletes didn't compete as "Uzbekistan" until 1996. Tulaganov was the countries second ever medal winner, come soon after Armen Bagdasarov, who won silver in Judo.
8-Former Thai amateur stand out Worapoj Petchkoom, who won an Olympic silver medal in 2004 and was a 2-time Asian Games medal winner, was banned in 2009 for posting for photos in a gay lifestyle magazine. After the incident the fighter claimed he didn't know what the magazine was and stated that he wasn't gay.
9-A Filipino fighter called King Tut, who fought in the 1940's and 50's, fought the wonderfully named pairing of Kid Independence and Young Liberty. Rather interestingly the King beat both men!
10-On June 28th 2005 a show in Pyongyang, North Korea, saw a trio of North Korean women being crowned WBC world champions! These were Myung Ok Ryu, Eun Soon Choi and Kwang Ok Kim. Ryu won the female Super Flyweight title, Choi the female Light Flyweight title and Kim won the Female Bantamweight title.
*Although Fuji was born in Hawaii he is recognised by the JPBA as a Japanese world champion and counted here.
With our recent facts articles all focusing on single fighters we've decided to do one with a twice this weekend as we look at Asian fighters who won a world title but failed to win their professional debuts! We were surprised to find so many of these, but there was actually quite a few, in fact there was more than 25 world champions from Asia who either lost on debut, or drew on debut. Many of these aren't big names, but on the whole they all deserve a lot more attention than they get
1-Whilst we found lots of champions who have debuted in 6 rounders and even a few who debuted in bouts scheduled for 8, such as Naoya Inoue very recently. It is rare, so rare in fact that we could only find two world champions from Asia who debuted in an 8 rounder and lost, before winning a world title. The first of those was Frank Cedeno, the British Filipino fighter who beat Charlie Magri in Wembley for the WBC Flyweight title in 1983, we'll get on to the second later in this article!
2-Korea's second ever world champion Soo Hwan Hong, who is also the first Korean to win titles in more than 1 weight class, draw on his debut to the debuting Sang Il Kim. Coincidentally his career also ended on a draw, as he fought to a stalemate with fellow former world champion Dong Kyun Yum, in what was Hong's 51st bout. That was also Yum's final bout. Incidentally Sang Il Kim's record is 0-1-1.
3-Former WBA Super Flyweight champion Hyung Chul Lee lost 3 of his first 4 bouts, including his debut. Strangely his career ended going full circle and he would also lose his final 2 bouts, both against Alimi Goitia, with only 1 loss in the middle of his career. He would end up with a career record of 19-6 (15)
4-China's first ever male world champion, Xiong Zhao Zhong, fought to a draw on debut. Aged 23 at the time Zhong fought to a 4 round draw with Lingfeng Yu. Yu ended his career 0-6-1, and his only non-loss was the bout to Zhong!
5-Another world champion who fought to a draw on debut was Kwanthai Sithmorseng, who fought to a draw with Nakhon Muensa in June 2005. Kwanthai last fought in June 2019, and despite a draw on his debut he had now gone 56 straight fights without another draw, going 49-7 since that debut draw.
6-Our research suggests that Sho Kimura is the only Asian world champion to have been knocked out on debut! Even more surprising is the fact that Kimura has since built a reputation on being an incredibly tough competitor with a great gas tank. Not the type of fighter you'd think was blown away in 75 seconds on debut!
7-Filipino fighter Manny Melchor retired with a record of 38-35-6 (6), following a loss on his debut. This record makes the former IBF Minimumweight champion one of the very few world champions with a sub 50% winning record.
8-Staying with Manny Melchor, he won just 1 of his first 9 bouts! Starting his career 1-6-2. Things actually took a long time to get better for the Filipino who was 8-8-2 (2) after 18 bouts and didn't have more wins than losses until his 27th bout, when he beat Angelo Escobar to advance his record to 13-12-2 (4)
9-Incidentally the man that Melchor beat for the IBF Minimumweight title, Fahlan Sakkreerin Snr also lost on his debut, losing an 8 round decision, to Chana Porpaoin, who was fighting for just the second time. What makes this bout rather remarkable is that BOTH men would go on to win world titles! Porpaoin would would be a 2-time WBA Minimumweight champion whilst Sahlan would be an IBF Minimumweight champion. Yes, Fahlan was the second of the fighters to lose in an 8 rounder on debut, though of course the more notable fact here was who he lost to!
10-Korean fighter Sung Jun Kim strangely began his career 0-1-1, with his debut being a loss and then his second being a draw, both to the same opponent, In Soo Lim. As with some of the other opponents mentioned these were Lim's only bouts Kim also had a loss and a draw, later in his career, to Hong Soo Yang, and ended his career in 1982 with a loss, book ending his career with losses.
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).