When we think about great upsets we tend to think of the big shocks and some times over-look how great the bouts themselves are. Today we get to show an amazing upset, that came in a sensational bout way back in 1997. The bout was among the very best bouts of the year, and is something every fight fan should have seen by now. But if you haven't, then there really is no better time than now!
November 22nd 1997
Osaka-Jo Hall, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Sirimongkol Singwancha (16-0, 6) Vs Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (14-4-1, 11)
Today's upset is a bout that really deserves to be mentioned at one of the best of 1997, and one of the best to ever give us an upset.
In one corner was unbeaten Thai Sirimongkol Singwanchan, the then WBC Bantamweight champion who was just 20 years old but looked like he was going to be one of the major faces of Thai of boxing. He had debuted in 1994 and had won the WBC "interim" Bantamweight title in 1996 before being upgraded in 1997 when Wayne McCullough left the division. He had made 3 defenses of the title, including one against veteran Victor Rabanales. He looked like a long term champion in the making, he was young, talented, tough and skilled, with under-rated power that he was still developing.
In the early 1990's the enigmatic Joichiro Tatsuyoshi was among the most popular Japanese fighters out there. He was charismatic, unique, a huge fan favourite, but also a fighter who often relied on his chin rather than his skills. As a result he took a lot of punishment very early in his career and his eyes were damaged by the wars that he was involved in. By 1997 he was widely regarded as being a done fighter, battled against the likes of Victor Rabanales, Yasuei Yakushiji and Daniel Zaragoza had taken their toll on him. He was "only" 27, but an old 27 who hadn't scored a win of note in well over 4 years and had had to comeback from a detached retina.
Before the bout Tatsuyoshi seemed to suggest that if he lost he had no where left to go in the sport, and would retire. He was the under-dog. He was at home, but was up against a fighter who looked like an emerging star.
Early on the bout had gone the way many had expected. The unbeaten Thai looked confident, calm, quick and accurate, he fought behind his jab and repeatedly tagged Tatsuyoshi up top through the first rounds. The Japanese local had moments, but was putting in a lot more effort than the Thai champion, who looked very composed and comfortable despite the crowd being well behind Tatsuyoshi.
The first few rounds saw Tatsuyoshi working hard too close the distance, but struggling with the jab and intelligent boxing of the Thai, who limited Tatsuyoshi's success to just a shot or two at a time. It was smart work from the young champion, who was trying to take the fight out of Tatsuyoshi, pick his moments and neutralise the fans. Tatsuyoshi however wasn't having it, and kept coming forward.
In round 4 and 5 we finally saw Tatsuyoshi get up close and force a higher tempo whilst the Thai began to look like some one who had struggled to make weight, or maybe over-looked his Japanese foe. Those rounds saw the bout turn in favour of Tatsuyoshi and the excitement level grew, the belief that we were seeing one great final performance from the popular "Joe of Naniwa".
It seemed like Tatsuyoshi was going to break the unbeaten Thai champion. That we were going to see the the damaged and battle worn warrior claim a remarkable win.
Then Tatsuyoshi began to look like he was feeling the pace. His effort and drive through the 4th and 5th round came at a cost whilst Sirimongkol appeared to be getting a chance to recover. Things were heading back to the way people had expected.
Tatsuyoshi however wasn't willing to give up his dream of continuing, of proving he wasn't shot. That he wasn't done, and some how, despite being hurt early in the round, he pulled out a thunderbolt, landing a brutal body shot that sent the Thai on to the canvas. Sirimongkol beat the count but couldn't survive the follow up attack, which forced the referee to step ip.
The man most thought was shot, was damaged goods and heading to retirement had pulled it out. He had put in one of the best performances of his career, dug deep and repaid the fans who shown him so much love.
Surprisingly Tatsuyoshi would then make two subsequent defenses of the title, before losing the belt in 1998 to Veeraphol Sahaprom, who went on to have the type of reign some had expected of Sirimongkol.
As for Sirimongkol he would bounce back well, and move up through the weights, claiming the WBC Super Featherweight title in 2002 and was still fighting more than 20 years after this loss, having a rather amazing career. The loss was a big set back, but was certainly not the end for the Thai.
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).