We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect fighters from opposite ends of the scales, going from former Minimumweight and Light Flyweight Hiroki Ioka to former Heavyweight king Ruslan Chagaev.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Japan's Hiroki Ioka was a world class fighter in the late 1980's and most of the 1990's, featuring in 13 world title fights and being a 2-weight Japanese world champion. He was also the final student of the legendary Eddie Townsend, and the uncle of future 4-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka. Ioka made his debut on January 23rd 1986. Another fighter who fought on January 23rd 1986 was the excellent Kongtoranee Payakaroon, who picked up his 6th professional win fighting in Rangsit, Thailand.
2-Although Kongtoranee Payakaroon wasn't as well as his younger brother, who we'll name in a minute, he was an excellent fighter himself and was very unlucky not to take a professional boxing title, to go alongside his Muay Thai achievements. His brother was the amazing Samart Payakaroon, one of the great Muay Thai fighters of all time and excellent boxer himself.
3-Samart Payakaroon's first world title win in professional boxing saw him win the WBC Super Bantamweight title. His reign came to an end in 1987 when he was beaten by Australian fighter Jeff Fenech.
4-Although a massive success as a professional Jeff Fenech was also an excellent amateur boxer and competed at the 1984 Olympics reaching the quarter finals before losing to Steve McCrory.
5-Given that Steve McCrory was part of the US boxing team in 1984 it's needless to add he was part of the US Olmypic team that picked up 9 gold medals, a silver and a bronze. The bronze medal winner was Evander Holyfield, probably the greatest Cruiserweight of all time and one of the all time great Heavyweights.
6-In 2008 Evander Holyfield fought Nikolay Valuev, losing a hotly debated decision to the Russian giant who had previously been beaten by Ruslan Chagaev.
Interestingly, though as an aside, Valuev was supposed to face Ruslan Chagaev in 2009, in what would have been their second bout and would have followed Valuev's win over Holyfield. Despite being ordered the bout never took place, due to a medical issue with Chagaev's blood test showing that he had Hepatits B.
We continue this series looking at little stories from the Eastern boxing scene by bringing you a really famous one which took place in Osaka between a former champion and a future world champion, which took place way back in 2000. At the time the future world champion was just a teenager, but would later go on to become on of the most controversial fighters in Japan. The other man involved was only 34, but he had retired following a loss in 1998, which made him decide his career had gone on long enough.
Unlike most stories this one isn't shrouded in mystery or myth. In fact this was caught on camera, and it certainly seems like their was some more to it than a staged event, despite being part of a documentary. In fact it very much looked like a teenager getting the better of a former world champion and beating him up a bit, whilst making the most of an opportunity to make a name for himself.
The youngster in question was Koki Kameda, who at the time was 14 or 15 when TBS's cameras were following him and his father, and Koki's brothers Daiki and Tomoki. The TBS cameras were recording a documentary and part of that saw Kameda having an exhibition with former WBC Minimumweight and WBA Light Flyweight world champion Hiroki Ioka.
Although Ioka was only 34 at this point he had had a long career and had retired following a stoppage loss to Masamori Tokuyama, the 5th stoppage loss of Ioka's career. He had fought 42 times as a professional from 1986, when he was just 17, to 1998, and had fought in 13 world title bouts. Ioka had himself been a young prodigy, and still holds the record for the youngest Japanese world champion, a record that has stood for over 30 years!
The exhibition, fought in front of a live crowd, saw Kameda starting aggressively and being all over Ioka, who looked very much like a man who had seen better days, and not someone who was expecting to have the youngster all over him. Early on Ioka looked tired and Kameda was going as far as to taunting the former champion.
With a live crowd in attendance Kameda, who had spent the first round with headgear on, removed the headgear and continued to look too aggressive, too good and too quick for Ioka, who looked clumsy and old. Even when Ioka did have moments he seemed to struggle with the footwork of Kameda who showed a lot of defensive ability and a smart boxing brain.
For those that haven't seen this before we have include the full documentary below, with the exhibition starting around 16 minutes into the video.
Given what Kameda would go on to do, this was a great glimpse at his ability, and with it being shown on TBS this was a huge opportunity for the youngster to shine. He took that chance and made the very most of it!
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).