Between 2001 and 2014 Japan's Daigo Nakahiro (24-4-2, 10) managed to have a pretty over-looked impact on the Super Flyweight division.
During his career Nakahiro fought a genuine who's who, including Kohei Kono, Daisuke Naito, Pongsaklek Wonjongjkam, Hidenbobu Honda, Ryo Akaho, Yota Sato and Malcolm Tunacao. Whilst he had mixed results against the top guys he certainly played a bigger part in the sport than many realise.
Not only did Nakahiro face some very notable fighters but he also had some real success winning Rookie of the Year and the Japanese Super Flyweight title and also went on to be leave boxing for another successful career.
With that introduction out of the way, let ups bring you 5 Midweek facts about Daigo Nakahiro.
1-Boxing wasn't the first sport to bite Nakahiro, who was previously in the high school football team. Interestingly he played along side Futsal player Akihito Seto and professional soccer player Kenji Haneda, who played over 150 times in the J League.
2-In December 2002 Nakahiro won the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown, at Super Flyweight. In the final he defeated future 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono.
3-In an interview after his retirement Nakahiro admitted that the only bout he never thought he could win was his WBC world title bout against Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
4-Interestingly Wonjongkam has also spoken about the bout with Nakahiro, telling RingTV's Anson Wainwright that Nakahiro had the best defense of anyone he faced. Wonjongkam stated "I couldn't hit him", which is a rare odd phrease to use when the judges had it a a clear win for Wonjongkam. Though Nakahiro's defense for the bout did come at the expense of his offensive. Nakahiro spent much of the bout fighting behind a tight guard and ducking and diving, making Wonjongkam miss, but not making him pay.
5-Following his retirement Nakahiro has become an occupational therapist working, to help people with physical and metal health rehabilitation. Prior to that role he had been working as a staff member at Senogawa hospital whilst he was still fighting
In the late 1990's and through much of 2000's Noriyuki Komatsu (24-6-6, 10) would be a staple on Flyweight scene. He would feature in 9 OPBF title bouts, 2 Japanese title bouts and a world title bout. Although he never won a world title he rarely in dull fights and many of them were close, hotly contested and exciting bouts.
Sadly Komatsu is probably best known internationally for being stopped in 5 rounds by Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. In reality it's unfair to remember a fighter for just a single bout, and that is especially true of someone like Komatsu, who achieved much more than just coming up short in a world title bout. He was exciting, successful and sadly passed away far, far too young. His two bouts with Trash Nakanuma were amazing, his bout with Daisuke Naito was thrilling and his bout with Rolly Lunas was incredibly dramatic.
Today we hope to shine a light on the former OPBF Flyweight champion as we bring you 5 Midweek facts about Noriyuki Komatsu.
1-At 15 bouts Komatsu had a very odd looking 10-0-5 (4) record. Yeah you read that right he had 5 draws in his first 15 professional bouts! Even more oddly they included 4 technical draws. He would only have 1 more draw, it's self a technical draw as well, in the 21 bouts that followed this odd start.
2-Komatsu used rock song "Tough Boy" by Japanese band Tom Cat as his ring entrance. The high energy track was also used, albeit with some minor edits, as the theme song for "Fist of the North Star 2". We've included the song at the end of this article for those wanting to give it a listen.
3-Komatsu's 2004 loss to Trash Nakanuma, in what was their second bout, was regarded as incredibly controversial and resulted in one one of the judges being suspended. The bout was regarded as a highly dubious result, with one judge putting in an inexplicable 10-8 round, which prevented a majority decision draw, which would have seen Komatsu retain his title.
4-In 2006 Komatsu, the then OPBF Flyweight champion, clashed with Daisuke Naito, the then Japanese champion, in a unification bout. The bout is the only time those two particularly titles were ever unified, and it's the only time in the JBC era that the Japanese Flyweight title has been fought for over 12 rounds.
5-Komatsu died in freak incident in April 2009. He appears to have drowned after falling from the top of a waterfall in Otsu City, Shiga whilst training. He was meant to fight Daiki Kameda the following month. He was aged just 29, just 8 days shy of his 30th birthday.
The Japanese Middleweight title is one of the most over-looked domestic titles from the Land of the Rising Sun but it's also a very interesting on and has had it's share of not just Japanese born champions but also fighters born outside of the country. One of those was 2-time Japanese Middleweight champion Steven Smith (18-11, 14), who was better known in Japan as Flasher Ishibashi.
Whilst not too well remembered now Smith was an exciting glass cannon and only 5 of his 29 career bouts went the distance. He was must watch, win or lose, and today we bring you 5 Midweek facts about Steven "Flasher Ishibashi" Smith.
1-Smith is from a large American family, from which he is the eldest of 7 siblings.
2-Smith's amateur record was reported 7-1 (6), with the fighter learning to box at an air force base in California. It was whilst he was in the air force that he also visited Japan, spending time at the Yokota Air Base.
3-Rather notably Smith didn't adopt the "Flasher Ishibashi" moniker until he had had more than 10 bouts, with the first under his adopted fighting name being his bout with Hideo Kanazawa in 1973. The Ishibashi name came from the Ishibashi gym that he fought out of.
4-Smith's first reign as the Japanese Middleweight champion ended despite him losing in a non-title bout to Ryu Sorimachi, the then Japanese Welterweight champion. This was due to the JBC rules that stated losing a bout held within the weight class limits would cause a fighter to be stripped. Due to this situation Smith has the 26th and 27th recognised reigns of the title.
5-Although an American born fighter who spent much of his career in the US Smith was a really well travelled fighter. He had 16 bouts in Japan, one in South Korea, one in Australia, one in France, one in South Africa and 9 in the USA. Whilst he's not alone in fighting in 4 continents, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America and Africa, he's certainly in a rather small percentage of fighters to have done that
British fans may remember a few years ago a short, relatively unknown but bull strong Japanese fighter called Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) travelling to the UK to challenge the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai. Today we're going to shine a bit of a light on Muranaka as we feature him in the latest 5 midweek facts article.
Of course Muranaka was no world beater, he asked some questions of Yafai, and made the Englishman work hard for 12 rounds but was a clear loser. He left an impression of a proper tough, strong guy who had heart and desire, despite being technically limited. The reality is that he could have been in some amazing bouts had he been disciplined enough to really commit to the sport and being a full professional.
Sadly Muranaka's career is plagues with issues, but he was often regarded highly in Japan and, for most of his career, was a popular fighter with a fun style and an aggressive mentality. He would win the Japanese Flyweight title, beating Takuya Kogawa and would defend it twice, stopping both Masayuki Kuroda and Yusuke Sakashita.
Rather than giving a full career synopsis lets instead look at 5 midweek facts about Suguru Muranaka.
1-Prior to ever fighting for a title of any kind, including Japanese title, Muranaka had become a popular sparring partner for top Japanese fighters. By August 2012 he had sparred with Tomobu Shimizu, Yota Sato, Toshiyuki Igarashi and Akira Yaegashi. He explained to Boxmob that despite Yaegashi being a Minimumweight when they sparred he was the most "scary". Later on he would also spar with Naoya Inoue and Ryoichi Taguchi.
2-Muranaka was stripped of the Japanese Flyweight title when he failed to make weight for a 2015 clash with Tetsuma Hayashi. Although the bout went ahead the title remained vacant as Muranaka defeated Hayashi by decision.
3-The weight troubles of Muranaka didn't started and end with the Hayashi bout and he would also fail to make weight later that same year for a bout with Hideyuki Watanabe, which lead to a lengthy suspension. He also failed to attend a weigh in for a Japanese Bantamweight title bout in 2018, due to being taken to hospital due to his inability to make weight after this he was indefinitely suspended by the JBC.
His first weight weight fail was actually in 2008 when he failed to make weight for a bout against Shigetaka Ikehara, meaning he failed to make weight for 4 bouts during his career! This first failure to make weight actually resulted in him being away from the sport for 2, in which he got married and a had child.
4-A staggering 29 of Muranaka's 30 career bouts took place at the same venue! Those bouts were at Korakuen Hall in Japan. The one exception was his 2018 bout with Kal Yafai, which took place at the Barclaycard Arena, in Birmingham, England! That's almost 97% of his career fought in a single venue, a staggering stat.
5-At the time of his fight with Kal Yafai, in 2018, Muranaka was working for a waterworks company. Other jobs he has spoken about having included working at a Pachinko Parlour in 2014.
From 2003 to 2014 Filipino fight fans had a youngster to get really excited about. That was Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista (36-3, 25). The explosive Bautista never left fans disappointed with his effort and always got in the ring looking to have a fight. More often than not he was in exciting tear ups, and built a cult following, not just in the Philippines but globally, due to his aggressive and exciting mentality.
Sadly Bautista retired young, walking away from the sport at the age of 28. There was a feeling among those close to him that it was time to hang them up, that his style was going to get him hurt and he had gone as far as he was going to go. He was young, but didn't need to continue in the sport and take punishment. He listened to the senior voices around him and wisely walked away.
Despite walking away young, and never winning a world title, Bautista remains an interesting fighter and someone who fans from the time still remember fondly. He's still spoken about within Filipino fight circles, and is used as an example of what to avoid if you're a talented prospect.
Today we're bringing you 5 Midweek facts about Rey Bautista!
1-Bautista made his debut at the age of 16 and was Amazingly he was 20-0 (15) before his 20th birthday! A staggering record for someone so young. Not only had he been busy but he had also been getting placed on some big cards by this point. They included the under-card of Marco Antonio Barrera's first bout with Rocky Juarez, and a card that featured Manny Pacquiao against Hector Velazquez and Erik Morales against Zahir Raheem.
2-On august 11th 2007 Bautista got his only world title fight, when he took on the then WBO Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon. The card featured 7 bouts in total, all with a Filipino involved. Sadly for Bautista he was the 1 in the 6-1 result for the Philippines, with all of his countrymen on the card winning their bouts, including a huge upset win for Michael Domingo against Mickey Roman.
3-Bautista's 2012 bout with Genaro Garcia Gutierrez was a case of mistaken identity! Bautista's team assumed they were getting multi-time world title challenger Genaro Garica, also known as "Poblanito", who had faced a who's who of the sport. Instead they ended up with a very similarly named fighter, who was known as "Panterita". Sadly the Genaro Garcia they got was terrible, unprofessional, failed to make weight and was stopped in 2 rounds. In fact he was stopped in all 18 of his career losses. There was even more doubt suggesting that it was an even worse fighter than "Panteria" Garcia, in what was a very messy situation for ALA and ABS-CBN, who televised the bout.
4-Bautista holds two TKO wins over Alejandro Barrera, the cousin of legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera.
5-When Bautista retired from the sport he began training boxing at the Philippine Air Force but progressed quickly and later became the boxing coach of the Philippine Military Academy. In the army he has impressed and he was reportedly close to being made a corporal last time the Filipino reported on him, which was more than a year ago!
From 1983 to 1995 Filipino fighter Domingo "Pretty Boy" Lucas (34-7-2, 10) was a staple of the world rankings in the lower weight classes. He was a 4 time world title challenger who went the distance with Ricardo Lopez and someone who managed to have a very solid in ring career based around his boxing IQ and his technical ability. Sadly his career came to an abrupt end in 1995, when he was just 29, but by that point he had left his mark and been able to challenge for titles at both Minimumweight and Flyweight.
We suspect many fight fans have spotted Lucas name on boxrec but don't really know much about him. With that in mind we felt he was a perfect candidate for this weeks 5 midweek facts.
We'll not only explain why Lucas's ended it when it did, but much more as we bring you 5 midweek facts about Pretty Boy Lucas.
1-Lucas' career came to an end after he suffered a brain injury in a 1995 loss against Chang Jae Kwon in Japan. He spent two months on hospital and required an operation to remove a blood clot on his brain.
2-Amazingly whilst Lucas was in hospital his wife gave birth to his son, Aljun is now an accountant, was born when Lucas was in a coma in hospital. Sadly Lucas is now divorced from his wife, with the two divorcing a few years after his injury.
3-In one of the "Best I Faced" columns, done by Anson Wainwright for RingTV, Ricardo Lopez revealed that Lucas was "the most skilful" opponent that he faced. That's a huge compliment coming from one
4-In 2011 Lucas featured in an episode of Filipino TV show "I Dare You". This appearance is actually something that featured on Lucas' IMDB page.
5-Lucas's style helped inspire that of another "Pretty Boy", Jerwin Ancajas. Ancajas revealed that his style was based on that of Lucas, who used a stiff jab and a very polished style. Lucas was also the reason that Ancajas adopted the "Pretty Boy" nickname.
Usually when it comes to these 5 Midweek Facts series we tend to talk about fights who few outside of their homeland remember. Today however we're going to talk about Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12), who made a mark on the US scene when he fought Teofimo Lopez in 2019, and gave Lopez a surprisingly tough test.
Sadly after his loss to Lopez we saw Nakatani announce his retirement over social media, stating that he had planned to retire when he lost. Sadly that retirement to cost him the chance to strike when the iron was hot and build on what was a very hotly contested bout with one of the fastest rising stars in the US.
Despite his retirement he has remained a figure that is spoken about by fans in the west, mostly fans who are confused by his retirement when he was just 30 years old. Sadly we can't explain the decision of Nakatani's but we can bring you some interesting facts regarding Nakatani!
1-He went to the same high school as two future stablemates at the Ioka Gym. They were multi-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka and former Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki
2-As an amateur Nakatani compiled a record of 45-15 (30), meaning he had an impressive 50% stoppage rate in the unpaid ranks.
3-Interestingly the university Nakatani went to had the boxing team disbanded when he was there, and as a result he took up Nippon Kempo, and had very credible success there thanks to his balance, size and physical skills.
4-The only title held by Nakatani during his professional career was the OPBF Lightweight title, which he held from January 2011 to August 2019. During that time he made 11 defenses of the belt, a record for most defenses of the belt during a single reign. In fact only the legendary Flash Elorde, with 13 defenses over his 3 reigns, has more defenses of the title!
5-Rather surprisingly Nakatani's favourite fighter is Bernard Hopkins.
Bonus Fact - Following Nakatani's bout against Teofimo Lopez the Japanese fighter explained there had been some issues with the way he had been treat in the US. He had been put in 2 different hotels, had been messed about in regards to a medical and had suggested that fellow Japanese fighters travelling to the US for a fight took someone who spoke English and always went for a finish due to the judging. He accepted defeat to Lopez, though felt that the scorecards failed to account for the competitive nature of the in ring action.
There are a lot of fighters well known in Asia who aren't so well known further afield. Some of those had international success, including world titles, and others were only able to win domestic honours. Today we're going to look at a man who only made a mark on the Japanese scene, but boy what a mark he left with his huge power and exciting style.
The man in is Tadashi Yuba (46-10-2, 33) who's professional career ran from 1996 to 2014 and saw him take on a who's who of Japanese boxing across a number of weight classes. Win or lose Yuba was also fun to watch and it never easy to predict how a Yuba fight would go. On average his bouts lasted less than 5 rounds and they almost all had a high level of drama.
So for today's 5 Midweek Facts article we're bringing you 5 midweeks facts about Tadashi Yuba.
1-Yuba would be dubbed, in some circles, as "Mr Korakuen", and fought more than 30 times at Korakuen Hall in his 58 bout career. Most career's don't go 30 fights, so to have fought that many times in a single venue is staggering, even a venue as famous and well known as Korakuen Hall.
2-Amazingly 12 of Yuba's 58 bouts failed to go into round 2! These included 11 opening round wins and a single opening round loss.
3-Yuba was the first, and so far only, fighter to become a 5-weight Japanese national champion. Yuba managed to win titles from Lightweight to Middleweight during his career. Rather interestingly the order of his title wins was Lightweight, Light Welterweight, Welterweight, twice in fact, Middleweight and then Light Middleweight. Despite his multiple Japanese title wins, Yuba never managed to win any other titles and went 0-3 in OPBF title bouts.
4-Yuba's son Kaiki Yuba has continued the fighting tradition of the family and has won the Japanese Youth Lightweight title!
5-In 2018 Yuba was arrested for violating stalker regulations for reporting sending obscene images to a 20-something year old woman.
Japanese Light Welterweight Norio Kimura (35-7-2,19) had one of the more interesting careers of Japanese fighters at 140lbs. Kimura's career ran from 1996, when he was 18, to 2009 and during that time he fought 44 bouts, including 20 title contests.
Although not a world beater Kimura did challenge for the WBA Light Welterweight title, when he faced off with Andriy Kotelnik in Ukraine, and faced domestic foes like of Rick Yoshimura, Tadashi Yuba, Motoki Sasaki, Shinya Nagase and Yosukezan Onodera. Whilst he came up short at world level he did dominate on the domestic scene and had an excellent reign as the national champion at 140lbs.
Of course we're not here for a profile on a fighter, but instead to continue our regular 5 Midweek Facts series, so this week, as you can probably guess, we're bringing you 5 Midweek facts about Norio Kimura!
1-Kimura went to school with, and is good friends with, kick boxer Taishin Kohiruimaki. Although boxing fans might not bee too family with Kohiruimaki he was a 3-time K1-Word MAX Japan Tournament champion and scored 40 wins from his 62 kick boxing bouts.
2-In various Japanese interviews Kimura revealed that he wasn't originally interested in boxing and that his first sporting love was actually Table Tennis, which he regularly played with his mother.
3-As an amateur boxing Kimura was very handed handed. He went 15-5 with 12 of his 15 amateur wins coming within the distance!
4-At the time of writing boxrec has a mistake in regards to the date of one of Kimura's bouts! That was the date of his 6 round clash with Takeshi Matsumoto. For some reason boxrec have this bout listed as being on December 20th 1999. It actually took place 2 years earlier, December 12th 1997. What makes this even more of a confusing mistake is the fact it was at the 1997 All Japan Rookie of the Year final!
5-With 13 defenses of the Japanese Light Welterweight title Kimura holds the record for the most defenses of the title. The next best was 12 defenses by Lion Furuyama, over 2 reigns, and 10 defenses in a single reign by Hiromu Kuwata.
For a second week running we turn out attention to South Kore for our Tuesday feature as we focus on former Welterweight contender Chung Jae Hwang (28-3, 25). The big puncher from Seoul fought between 1979 and 1989, a fairly long career for a Korean fighter from that time period. During his career he fought in 15 OPBF Welterweight title bouts, including 13 successful title defenses, and was one of the standout Asian Welterweight fighters of his time.
Although Hwang's career wasn't the most successful he did face some pretty well known names, the most notable or which was Saensak Muangsurin, and before turning professional he had been a successful amateur, again on the Asian scene.
With that introduction out of the way lets take a look at 5 Midweek Facts about Chung Jae Hwang.
1-In 1975 Hwang was arrested and spent time in prison. At the time he was very much a ruffian, and admitted that his actions were "really stupid". Following this he turned his aggressive nature into that of a boxer.
2-After turning things around Hwang became a genuinely good amateur. His amateur career really took off after he defeated 1976 Olmypian Ju Seok Kim and he went on to win gold at the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok.
3-Notably Hwang's professional debut came against a former OPBF Champion. That was Fred Rolando Pastor, who had previously held the OPBF Lightweight title. Whilst it's not unheard of for fighters to debut against former champions this is still a pretty impressive feat for Hwang.
4-Interestingly Hwang is the only man to defeat Saensak Muangsurin in Thailand. The Thai great did suffer 6 losses in total, but the other all came abroad. They occurred in Spain, twice, Korea, Philippines, and the USA. It should however be noted that Hwang's win over Muangsurin did come in the Thai's final professional bout, and he was very much a diminished fighter by this point.
5-Hwang released an album in 2018 as he turned to music, and almost a bit of male modelling. We have included a live performance of him singing below.
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).