Boxing can give us some weird shocks and surprises. Usually they came from the under-dog either stopping their man or out boxing them. Usually at least. Today we bring you the shock that saw the favourite injuring himself and being unable to continue, in what is a bit of a weird that is often nor forgotten, despite the fact it happened less than 20 years ago, and was for a major world title.
December 18th 2004
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Eagle Den Junlaphan (13-0, 5) Vs Isaac Bustos (23-6-3, 12)
By December 2004 Japanese based Thai "Eagle" Den Junlaphan, who had gone through a few different names due to sponsors and was Eagle Kyowa at the time, had started to look like one of the best Minimumweights on the planet. Despite only having 13 fights to his name he had scored notable wins over the likes of Nico Thomas, Noel Tuancao and Jose Antonio Aguirre. The win over Aguirre, in January of 2004, had seen the Thai claim the WBC Minimumweight title, ending Aguirre's reign after 7 successful defenses.
In his first defense of the title Junlaphan defeated Satoshi Kogumazaka with a clear decision win and he looked like a star in the making. He appeared to have all the tools for a long reign.
In his second defense Junlaphan took on Mexican challenger Isaac Bustos, a decent fighter but not someone who screamed "future world champion". Bustos' record was misleading, as he had gone 7-6-1 (2) in his first 14 bouts before going 16-0-2 in his following 18, but there was little on it to suggest he'd be a real challenge for Junlaphan.
The bout started as many would have expected. Junlaphan was using his speed, movement and ring craft well through the first round, landing pretty much all the clean shots on the tough and rugged Mexican challenger. Bustos wasn't there to fall over but he looked pretty much over-matched and out of his depth through the first round.
Bustos was again caught regularly through round 2, with the crowd appreciating the local favourite and the skills he was showing as he was able to pretty much do what he wanted and when. It seemed the champion was going to score the win sooner or later. It seemed inevitable after just 2 rounds that Bustos had nothing to challenger Junlaphan with.
Junlaphan came out firing again in round 3. It seemed like he was beginning to feel like he could beat up the Mexican challenger and was landing some gorgeous shots. Until 55 seconds into the round when it appeared that he badly injured his right shoulder. For the rest of the round he fought one handed whilst Bustos came after him. To his credit Junlaphan fought well with one arm, but it was a huge problem. He couldn't punch with it, he couldn't get his hand up to protect his chin and even stopping it from dangling seemed to leave him in agonising pain. To his credit he managed to survive round 3 but was in total agony.
Junlaphan was sent out for round 4 but after just 35 seconds of the round enough was enough and he called a halt on the contest rather than letting the injury get worse.
It was a horrible ending to his reign, especially given his brilliant he had looked in the first 2 rounds, and a genuinely big shock in the division, with many regarding Junlaphan as one of the very best in the division at the time.
Bustos' reign was a short one. He lost the belt just 4 months later, to Katsunari Takayama, who himself lost, in his first defense against Junlaphan who recaptured the belt just 8 months after his bout with Bustos.
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).