We talk about the commentators curse, or the commentator giving a fighter the proverbial "kiss of death" and today we have a great example of that from 1983. In fact for today's "What a Shock" we have a great example of a huge upset, and for another week we have that upset coming via the hands of an unfancied Filipino in what likely goes down as one of the biggest upsets by a Filipino in Europe. Ever.
September 27th 1983
Wembley Arena, Wembley, London, United Kingdom
Frank Cedeno (30-6-3, 13) vs Charlie Magri (28-2, 21)
We mentioned the commentators curse and that's because of how the commentator began for the bout here. Working for British TB the commentator, explained that last time out "when Magri won the title in March he was the underdog, but he's not the under-dog tonight against Cedeno."
In March 1983 Charlie Magri won the WBC Flyweight title by stopping defending champion Eleoncio Mercedes, on cuts. The win had been a huge one for the popular Englishman who had been stopped in 2 of his 6 previous bouts, and had allowed him to call himself a world champion. Prior to winning the world title "Champagne Charlie" had held the EBU title and proven himself as an exciting, power punching Flyweight who came to fight and fight hard. Defensively he was very flawed, but his offense was his best form of defense.
He was now making his first defense around 6 months after winning the title. He was, as the commentator suggested, the clear favourite. This was expected to be an easy first defense against a challenger who seemed to pose little threat to the Englishman.
In Frank Cedeno we had a Filipino challenger who had scored just 13 stoppages in 39 bouts. Coming in to the bout he had won 4 in a row, but had gone 1-2-1 in the 4 fights prior to that run, and his best wins were all at domestic level. There was no hidden gem win on his record with the biggest name on his record being the then on the slide Montsayarm Haw Mahachai, who his 3 subsequent bouts before retiring. Not only was Cedeno a light punching challenger, but he was also fighting outside Asia for the first time in his career.
There was literally nothing for Magri and his team to fear....right? Well that's what we all assumed.
From the off Magri pressed forward and had the crowd roaring their support early in the opening round. Magri, the aggressor, seemed to take the opening round and landed some heavy leather on the Filipino who looked in trouble part way through the opening round. Cedeno seemed to be forced to fight fire with fire in an effort to just get Magri to give him some respect.
Despite being backed up and hammered through much of the opening Cedeno did land some good shots when he fired back. He did the same early in round 2 but as the round went on Cedeno's work rate dropped off and he took to the ropes, trying to soak up the pressure of the Englishman. It was a risky tactic but one which was done with the intention of taking the steam out of Magri.
In round 3 we began to see Cedeno come alive again, and Magri responded, in what was a fantastic round of back and forth action. The power and aggression of Magri up against the skills and toughness of Cedeno, with the challenger building in confidence. Magri tried to take the confidence away from the Filipino with some huge body shots, but Cedeno weathered the storm whilst firing back.
In round 4 the pace dropped off, which was understandable given the insane tempo of the opening round. The slower pace suited Cedeno who began to create space and land some huge shots at range. Magri, although still unloading with huge shots, was beginning to look a lot less active than he had earlier and he was beginning to feel the shots from Cedeno a lot more than he had in the first 3.
In the fifth we saw Magri slowing more. His lack of defense was now becoming a major issue, as his offense had began to slow as well. He wasn't able to sustain anything for more than a few seconds whilst Cedeno picked some great shots, with both hands. By now it was starting to look like Magri was doubting himself as both men were digging deep. The action wasn't none stop, but it was back and forth, and momentum swung one way then the other, with both looking spent and in trouble.
Heading into round 6 it was clear both men had taken a lot out of each other, and themselves. The crowd were getting behind their man with a huge "Charlie" chant, but it wasn't enough to stir their man into a second wind. He looked spent and mid way through the round he was rocked. A follow up dropped the champion, who managed to recover to his feet, before going down again. Once more Magri's heart got him up but he was done and soon afterwards he was down again, with the referee finally waving off the bout.
The upset was huge, with Cedeno dethroning the highly fancied British champion. Sadly for Cedeno his reign was a short one, and he was stopped in 2 rounds by Koji Kobayashi in his first defense. Cedeno would bounce back from the loss to Kobayashi, but lose in 1987 to Gilberto Roman, before going 2-2 in his last 4 and retiring in the late in 1980's.
In 1985 Magri would get a chance to recapture the title, but was stopped in 4 rounds by Sot Chitalada and ended his career in 1986, with a loss to Duke McKenzie.
Although not too well remembered now a days, this bout was a genuine thriller and it may well have ruined both men. Thankfully for Cedeno he took the win, scored a huge upset, and had a career defining victory that saw him become one of the very few Filipino's to be crowned a world champion on UK soil.
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).