The Japanese Middleweight scene hasn't been one that has made much news internationally, though it's regularly produced some amazing fights and it's massively over-delivered in the quality stakes in recent years. Today we bring you our latest "Did You Know" article focusing on the Japanese Middleweight title...and It comes just a day before the 8th anniversary of the brilliant title fight between Koji Sato and Makoto Fuchigami, which we've included at the end of this article!
1-The first bout for the what is regarded as the Japanese Middleweight title came in 1947, when Shokichi Arai defeated Eiichi Moriwaki with a 10 round decision. This bout was held on August 31st 1947 in Tokyo, and pre-dates the JBC!
2-Hachiro Tatsumi holds three records for the title. He is the only 3-time Japanese Middleweight champion, he has the most total defenses, at 20, and the most defenses in a single reign at 13! Amazingly Tatsumi fought 111 times his 15 year career, and took part in 45 title bouts! During that time he would become a a 2-Japanese Welterweight champion, a 3 time Japanese Middleweight champion and a 3-time OPBF Middleweight champion.
3-Former champion Hajime Fuji, who held the title for 6 months, had previously been a Sumo wrestler before turning to boxing in 1966
4-Several American fighters have held the title. These include George Carter, who actually beat Hachiro Tatsumi on debut, Steven Smith, who fought as "Flasher Ishibashi" and Kevin Palmer.
5-The belt was once held by an English fighter who shares his name with that of a former British Prime Minister! That was James Callaghan, who held the title in 1980, defended it once, then retired with a 6-0 (4) record.
6-The little known known champion Katsuo Esashi ended his career with a losing record despite winning the title in 1979. In the end Esashi would retire with a 5-6 (3). He won the belt when he stopped the then 9-11-1 Nessie Horiguchi, and lost in his first defense just 7 months later. Incidentally he fought two future world champions, losing twice to Masashi Kudo and also losing in his final bout to Chong Pal Park. Surprisingly his only decision defeat was a 10 round decision loss to Kudo in their second bout.
7-Esashi wasn't the only champion to end up with more losses than wins either! Yoshiaki Eto, who retired 11-13-1 (5), had done the same in the 1960's.
8-Only 2 fighters who have held the title have ever gone on to win a world title. The first of those was Masashi Kudo, who held the WBA Light Middleweight title in the late 1980's, and Shinji Takehara, who won the WBA Middleweight title in 1995.
9-Despite the failure of Japanese Middleweight champions winning world titles several have tried, including Yoshiaki Tajima, Yoshinori Nishizawa, Naotaka Hozumi and Makoto Fuchigami.
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).