For today's Remarkable Round article we head back to 1986 for a round that was absolutely sensational and left fans with their jaws on the flaws as both men hit the canvas, and the moment of the round shifted back and forth several times. Despite only being a typical 3 minute round the drama and action was more than we typically see in a 12 round fight. This was a sensational round with thrilling back and forth and saw both men looking on the verge of a defeat. This was among the very, very best rounds we've ever seen.
Eiji Okita (13-1-1, 6) vs Shinji Kobayashi (7-2-1, 5)
In on corner was Eiji Okita, not a man we suspect many will be familiar with. At this point in time he was ranked #1 by the JBC and sported a very handsome 13-1-1 (6) record. Aged 23 at this point in his career he was seen a rising force in the in either the Super Featherweight division, or the Lightweight division. The two marks on his record were a loss from 1983, when he was stopped in just his 5th professional bout, and a draw against the then Japanese Lightweight champion Cheyenne Yamamoto. Following that draw, in 1985 he had scored 2 wins coming into this bout, and was knocking on the door of a second Japanese title fight.
In the opposite corner was southpaw slugger Shinji Kobayashi, a man who's Boxrec record is incomplete as we write this. Boxrec list Kobayashi as sporting a 1-1 (1) record but in reality he was 7-2-1 (5) and was ranked #8 by the JBC at 130lbs. He had debuted in 1984 and had lost 2 of his first 5 bouts, sporting a record of 2-2-1 at that point. Despite his faltering start he had began to build his career and had scored 3 successive wins coming into this bout with Okita. He had proven to have solid power, with 5 stoppages in his first 7 wins, and coming in to this bout both of his losses had been by decision.
The winner of this bout was almost certainly going to be getting a Japanese title fight in the near future, and both men knew what was on the line here. That showed through out the first round, but it was really round 2 that saw the bout go through the gears and give us something truly amazing.
The round began with Kobayashi on the offensive and he seemed to be full of confidence before eating a perfect straight right hand on the button. That shot, after around 19 seconds, sent Kobayashi down for the first knockdown of the round. After a roll towards his corner Kobayashi was up, and it seemed more like he was embarrassed than hurt, smiling to the fans from his corner.
Okita seemed to feel that he was the boss after the knockdown and tried to take his man out, landing several solid body shots, but Kobayashi took them well and Okita backed off, returning to his boxing and counter punching. With around 2 minutes of the round gone Kobayashi putting Okita on to the back foot, and sent him on to the ropes. Kobayashi seemed to feel he had his man hurt and rushed in as Kobayashi backed off, before being sent to the canvas in a heap. It was hard to see what Okita landed to score the second knockdown, but Kobayashi didn't complain about the knockdown and looked in more pain this time than earlier on.
With the 3 knockdown rule in effect Okita knew he was on the verge of a victory and went after Kobayashi with huge body shots. To his credit Kobayashi dug deep, fighting back despite his legs looking all over the place. It seemed like Kobayashi was about to go down again, but then, from nowhere, he landed a perfect straight left hand, sending Okita down hard. It was the third knockdown of the round and by far the hardest. Okita, somehow, got back to his feet, beating the count. Kobayashi went in for the finish, but the bell came and saved Okita, who looked wobbly as he went to his corner.
If you've never seen this round, and there's a really good chance you haven't, it is worth sitting down, and enjoying! It is spectacular!
A massive thank you to Seki-chan and his amazing Boxinglib.com for the details regarding Kobayashi's record.
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).