Today's Did You Know is a little different to usual as it looks at a rather peculiar bout that took place in 2009 at the Differ Ariake in Tokyo. That wasn't the originally set venue for the contest, and the bout only took place there due to some issues with the original venue. Which wasn't even in the same country as where the bout took place!
The bout in question is the WBC Flyweight title bout between defending champion Daisuke Naito and Chinese challenger Xiong Zhao Zhong. It was a rather odd event overall, but also a very notable one.
-The bout with was rather strange in a number of ways. Originally it had been planned for Shanghai, but had to be cancelled on short notice, reportedly 2 days notice, due to issues with the organisers in China. It was then re-arranged for the Differ Ariake in Japan as a peculiar 1-bout event, with no under-card, and all the tickets were sold at the venue on the day of the event.
-When Xiong scored a knockdown of Naito in round 6 it was only the second time Naito had been dropped, having previously been down in his opening round KO loss to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in their first bout.
-Both men were deducted points for headclashes. In fact there was 3 points deducted in total, with 2 coming from Xiong, in rounds 4 and 5, and one from Naito, in round 10.
-This was Xiong's international debut. He would go on to fight on the road a further 4 times, losing twice more in Japan, as well as in Monaco. But he did score a huge win in Dubai.
-The bout was aired on TBS in Japan, who tried to sell Xiong as a "Little Tyson" in the build up video. This was different to how they sold Naito, with English test popping on the screen stating "He is a romantic".
-Sankyo were involved in putting the bout on. Sankyo are also responsible for putting on a number of recent Kazuto Ioka bouts, including his bout with Donnie Neites, in Macao, and his most recent bouts, against Jeyvier Cintron.
-This was the first time someone from the People's Republic of China had fought for a world title.*
-Naito was said to have been embarrassed by how close this bout was and his performance. He went on to apologise to the fans for the bout.
*Prior to this bout Rocky Lin, a fighter from the "Republic of China", or Taiwan, had twice fought for a world a world title.
Exactly 18 years ago today, April 19th, Japan's Daisuke Naito travelled to Thailand to compete in his first ever world title fight, going up against his most notable rival, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. With that anniversary now here it seemed the perfect time to cover Naito in one of our weekly series.
So here we are with 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Daisuke Naito
1-Naito's parents divorced when his mother was pregnant with Daisuke. By that point his parents already had another son, who was 4 years old at the time.
2-As a child Naito was a natural athlete. He competed in athletics and made the table tennis club at junior high school and shined at handball in in Highschool. Sadly though school wasn't a happy time and in the second year of junior high school Naito became a target for bullying, which continued to worsen, and was ignored by teachers. The bullying became such a big part of Naito's life that he has campaigned against bullying in adulthood and TBS also did a special dramatization on Naito and the way he was bulled, entitled “Naito Daisuke Monogatari: Ijimerarekko no Champion Belt" (The Daisuke Naito Story: Champion Belt for a Bullied Child)”
3-Naito took up boxing to try and becoming strong, with the idea that he could scare off bullies is they struck again. His mother, however, wasn't a fan and described the sport as useless when he first started.
4-On December 19th 1998 Naito stopped Noboru Fukuyama in 1 minute to become the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Flyweight. This win, in his 10th bout, saw him advance his record to 9-0-1 (7) and was his 6th opening round T/KO. He would end his career with 8 of them in total.
5-Naito's first ever title fight saw him fight to a draw with the then Japanese Flyweight champion Takefumi Sakata. The bout was followed by the "Ogushi Incident", which ended with Naito's stablemate Hiroto Ogushi drunkenly storming the ring and having his license suspended. These were ugly scenes with Ogushi reportedly brandishing a weapon and later ranting outside the officials office. This would be the end of Ogushi's career whilst both Naito and Sakata would go on to win Flyweight world titles.
6-It's well known that Naito's first bout with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, a 34 second loss to the Thai great, is the shorted Flyweight world title bout in history. What isn't reported as much is that Naito himself holds the record for winning the shortest ever Japanese title fight with his 24 second win over Takeyuki Kojima. Another thing that isn't too well known is that the blow out against Kojima would be Naito's 8th, and final, opening round T/KO win!
7-The third bout between Naito and Wonjongkam, which took place in 2007, was shown on Tokyo MX, who stepped in after the original broadcaster decided not to air the bout. Many in the west won't be familiar with Tokyo MX and that's because they are a tiny channel compared to the likes of TBS and Fuji, and are independent of the big news networks that dominate Japanese TV. This was later awarded the Best Match Award at the Japanese boxing awards. Of course this was Naito's world title win over Wonjongkam and the TV channels realised the error of their ways. The following year Naito had 3 televised fights, all on TBS, and each of them peaked at over 24% in the audience viewing in the region. That included the 4th bout between Naito and Wonjongkam, which hit a huge 26.3%.
8-Naito's regular ring walk music was "Romanticが止まらない" by CCB
9-Naito got married in the year 2000 and has had 2 sons.
10-Naito's bout with Koki Kameda in 2009 hit an audience rating of 43.1% in the Kanto region on TBS. That's a record high for an all-Japanese bout, and broke a record that had stood for more than 40 years, with the previous record being a 41.9% rating for the 1967 clash between Hiroshi Kobayashi and Yoshiaki Numata.
Extra Fact - Away from boxing Naito has been involved in various things, ranging from TV work for almost every TV network in Japan, to releasing a a book and doing a duet for an animated film. He has also opened a ramen shop in Hokkaido.
The name Hiroto Ogushi isn't one that will be familiar to fans outside of Japan, in fact many newer fans in Japan are unlikely to recognise his name. Yet one summer day in 2001 he did something truly remarkable, something so odd that fight fans really do need to know about Ogushi, and the the incident that saw him getting an indefinite suspension by the JBC.
So what was the Ogushi incident?
To begin with we need to take you back almost 20 years, to July 16th 2001 in Tokyo. The main event of a show at Korakuen Hall that day saw Takefumi Sakata retaining the Japanese Flyweight title with a highly controversial draw against Daisuke Naito. Many of those in attendance felt that Naito had done enough to deserve the decision but was denied, in a botu scored a majority decision, a decision that saw both men keep their unbeaten records intact.
What followed was the Ogushi incident, however before we get on to that lets just explain who Hiroto Ogushi was.
Ogushi was a promising fighter from the same gym, the Miyata Gym, as Naito. At the time he was 24 years old, a close friend of Naito's and had a record of 15-4 (11). He was, for all intents, a talented young Super Featherweight puncher who had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, and despite suffering a string of setbacks was beginning to find his groove again. He had sparred with several notable Japanese fighters of the time, and his left hook was regarded as a monstrous punch.
Sadly Ogushi wasn't the most pragmatic of young men, or the type of fighter who trained, trained and trained.
After watching his friend seemingly get robbed of the Japanese title Ogushi rushed the ring, along with Naito's corner man. Whilst that's not too unusual, the issue was that Ogushi appeared to be holding a knife, whilst also appearing rather intoxicated. And he wasn't just in the ring loudly talking, in fact he appeared to be on the verge of physically attacking people. He was furious, and his anger really refused to die down. Even when he was ushered into the corridors near the changing rooms, in an attempt to calm him down, the anger was spewing from the hard hitter.
Ogushi's anger saw him ranting outside the referees room. Then go into the officials room, and continue to berate them.
The Miyata Gym Chairman and Ogushi would be punished by the JBC just days later, with Ogushi having his licenses suspended indefinitely, being the first boxing in Japan to receive that punishment without having committed some form of serious criminal act.
Ogushi was actually given a chance to apologise for actions, but foolishly turned them down, stating that his reason for not not seeing the JBC was that he "didn't have a suit to wear at the time". A petulant response to say the least.
In a rather odd twist to the whole story both Naito and Sakata would go on to win world titles, holding them at the same time in fact. Naito would claim the WBC Flyweight title and Sakata the WBA title, though no rematch ever occurred, even with the history of the two men that would have made it a massive event.
Despite a clear, and long term rivalry, the two men were pictured together in 2008 at the annual boxing awards, and they appeared to be able to share a joke, even if they weren't best buddies.
As for Ogushi, he did talk about a comeback, but nothing ever materalised, and his career was essentially over after his night of madness.
The second in our "Top 5 Wins" features looks at another modern icon, as we look at Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (9-15-2, 47). The Thai is a criminally over-looked fighter who is often remembered unfairly as a fighter who only fought in Asia against weak opposition, but the reality is that he fought a lot of fighters who were a lot better than fans realise. In fact of the men he beat numerous ones went on to win world titles in the years that followed, and the way he essentially monopolised the WBC Flyweight world title in the 00's and early 10's is incredible.
So lets have a look at the 5 top wins of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
5-Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (October 28th 2010)
In Pongsaklek's first defense of his second reign he took on the then 14-3-1 (4) Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. At the age of 33 Pongsaklek was seen as being on the way out, and although Suriyan hadn't made his mark on the sport by this point, something he would do impressively in the coming years, though the then 21 year old left a great impression here. Pongsaklek was pushed all the way by a talented, tough, determined foe who came of age. Suriyan would put up an amazing effort, using his youth, energy and toughness. The challenger even threw up at one point yet still continued to press and push Wonjongkam in a bit of a forgotten classic. This was a great fight, a hotly contested battle and in many ways the start of the end for Wonjongkam, who would only defend the WBC title 3 more times. It was also a bout that put Suriyan on the map, before he won the WBC Super Flyweight title
4-Edgar Sosa (October 21st 2011)
A year after beating Suriyan we saw Pongsaklek take on excellent Mexican fighter Edgar Sosa. Sosa was 43-6, 2 years younger than Wonjongkam, a former long reigning Light Flyweight champion and a very, very good fighter. He had lost just once in his previous 32 bouts, and that was a very controversial loss to Rodel Mayol, on paper this looked a huge ask for the the ageing Pongsaklek, and Sosa was in great form. What we ended up seeing here was Pongsaklek out boxing, out thinking, out moving and out fighting the Mexican in what turned out to be one final great performance by Pongsaklek. Amazingly this would be his last win at world level. Sosa on the other hand remained a contender until quite recently, losing to Roman Gonzalez in 2015 and Donnie Nietes in 2016.
3-Malcolm Tunacao (March 2nd 2001)
Of course the win that puts a fighter on the map always belongs on any top 5 list, and that's exactly what we got when Pongsaklek took on WBC Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao in 2001. The unbeaten Tunacao was 11-0-1, 7, and had taken the title the previous year with a TKO win over Medgoen Singsurat and had made a defense in Japan against Celes Kobayashi. For Pongsaklek this was supposed to be the first real test, the first time he was facing someone of known quality and the first time the then 23 year old Thai was supposed to be in there with a top quality opponent. Pongsaklek made this look incredibly easy, surprisingly so in fact, as he dropped the Filipino champion just over a minute into the fight and set an incredible all out tempo. Tunacao got to his feet but was dropped a second time not afterwards and then dropped again. He was done within a round. This win kicked off a great reign for Pongasaklek and was one of only 2 career stoppages for Tunacao, the other coming more than 12 years later, in 12 rounds to Shinsuke Yamanaka. This was a huge win, and an incredibly impressive one when we look back over out.
2-Koki Kameda (March 27th 2010)
After losing the WBC Flyweight title to Daisuke Naito in 2007, in their third bout, it seemed like Pongsaklek was on his way out. He was "only" 29 at the time but had had 65 bouts and seemed to be on the slide. Over 2 years later however Pongsaklek would become a 2-time world champion, upsetting the then 22-0 Koki Kameda in a notable upset win. Kameda had been one of the stars of Japan, he was a controversial figure, but a huge star and at only 23 years old he was seen as one of the top rising stars, and was already a 2-weight world champion. Kameda had taken the title from Naito, and yet was unable to over-come the then 32 year old Pongaklek. The Thai legend pressed, pushed, forced the tempo and our worked Kameda, who had the edge in speed, but didn't do enough. This was a great win for Pongsaklek and was a huge win at the time, against one of the biggest names in Asian boxing.
1-Daisuke Naito (Apri 19th 2002) I
When a fighter sets a record that stands more than 17 years later, and does so against a future world champion it's worth making a note of. Especially when the fighters go on to have a very storied rivalry. That is part of what elevates Pongsaklek's first win against Daisuke Naito to the #1 place here. Entertaing the bout Naito was 19-0-2 (14), aged 27 he was seen as being in his physical prime and was a a legitimate title challenger. Despite Naito being a really good challenger, Wonjongkam managed to take him out with 1 powerful straight left hand after just 34 seconds. This blow out win is still the quickest win in a world title bout, one of the all time quickest in world title bouts, and was the only stoppage loss for Naito, who would later go 1-1-1 in a trio of rematches with Wonjongkam. For the historical context of this win, it takes the #1 place in our list of Wonjongkam's top 5 wins.
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).