Former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Isao Ishikawa (12-4, 11), who was better known as Isao Mano, is not a fighter that we expect many fight fans to be too aware of, though he certainly had an interesting career, and is one of the many fighters out there who probably should have accomplished a lot more than he actually did. In fact he's someone who showed a lot of potential as a teenager in the amateur ranks but never really clicked when it came to the professional ranks.
With Mano not being a particularly well known fighter we thought he was an ideal choice to talk about this week in our latest 5 Midweek facts article, as we look to shine a light on another retired former fighter.
Before go into the fact we'll quickly run over Mano's career which spanned from 1984 to 1994, and saw him fight 16 professional bouts. Amazingly those bouts lasted a combined 50 rounds, and only 2 of those 16 bouts actually went to the final bell. Win or lose Mano's bouts tended to be short and dramatic and only a single one of his contests saw round 6! He was, for all intents, a bit of a glass cannon, and for fans watching his fights were rarely dull.
1-As an amateur Ishikawa was impressive, despite only notching up an 11-2 record. He began boxing when he was in school and came in the final 8 of the 1982 Inter-High school competition. His potential was obvious and and he quickly joined the Morioka gym to begin his professional career at the age of 17. Despite his youth there was real expectations on his shoulders.
2-Sadly for Ishikawa those expectations on his shoulders saw him becoming over-confident and he ended up losing his first 2 bouts, both in 1984. Following those set backs he retired from boxing with a 0-2 record, aged just 17!
3-Surprisingly Ishikawa turned turned professional to help his mother with finances. This must have made his early retirement doubly hard. During his retirement he did manage to do a number of jobs, including being a waiter and a long distance driver.
4-Years after retiring Ishikawa had a chance meeting in the with Eiji Morioka, the chairman of the Morioka Gym, who had previously handled his professional career. That meeting lead to Ishikawa returning to professional boxing, and restarting his career in 1991, under the "Isao Mano" ring name. He completely turned his career around with 10 straight victories from 1991 to 1993, including winning the Rookie of the Year in 1992. This comeback saw him go from 0-2 to 10-2 (9) in a remarkable career turn around.
5-Mano's unbeaten streak came to an end in June 1993, when Toshikazu Suzuki stopped him in 4 rounds. Despite that loss Mano got a shot at Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichiro Kojo less than 3 months later and scored a major upset win over Kojo, who was enjoying his second reign as the champion. Interestingly Mano's title win came via 10th round TKO in Mano's only bout to go past 5 rounds. Sadly for Mano however his reign was a short one as his first defense saw him being stopped by Toshikazu Suzuki, meaning his title win was sandwiched between losses to Suzuki in a rather odd looking end to his career.
Bonus fact - When Hinata Maruta won the Japanese Featherweight title in February 2021 he became the first fighter from the Morioka gym to win a Japanese title since Mano more than 27 years earlier!
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).