Japanese Middleweights don't tend to make much of a mark on world level, and even the ones that do tend to do little more than make themselves a footnote in history. One such fight was the heavy handed Teiken hopeful Koji Sato (20-2, 18).
Sato had built a reputation in Japan and Asia from his days as an amateur, where reported very impressive numbers. That reputation had seen Teiken get very excited about him when he decided to turn professional and in 2005 he began a short, but genuinely thrilling, professional career. It was a career that saw him fighting in Las Vegas, have in a world title fight in Germany against Felix Sturm and compete in a sensational 9 round OPBF/JBC title unification bout with Makoto Fuchigami, a bout that everyone should watch!
Today we're not here break down the ups and down of Sato's career, but instead take the chance to bring you the latest in our 5 Midweek facts series, as we look at Koji Sato.
1-Koji Sato shares his name with several notable figures.
These include a renowned amateur photographer, who lived from 1911 to 1955 and has his photography included in the collections of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
Whilst another Koji Sato is an incredibly influential Constitutionalist born in 1937. This Koji Sato has helped reform the Japanese judicial system and has been a massively significant figure in Japanese law, making a massive mark since the 1980's!
2-Unlike many Japanese fighters Sato didn't actually make his professional debut in Japan. Instead he debuted in Las Vegas in April 2005, stopping Francisco Valdez in just 56 seconds. That was one of only two bouts that Sato had outside of his homeland, with the other being his 2009 loss in Germany to the then WBA Middleweight champion Felix Sturm.
3-As a professional Sato faced fighters from 7 countries. These were:
Japan (8 times)
USA, Australia, Germany (1)
4-Following his retirement from the ring Sato worked for a real estate company, a luxury cruise ship company and a bodyguard for celebrities.
5-Amazingly Sato made a return to boxing in 2019, returning to the amateur ranks at the age of 38. This return came more than 7 years after his final professional bout and more than 14 years after his previous amateur bout. The hope had been for him to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Sadly for Sato his return was for nought, not because of the Olympic being delayed but because he lost in the 2019 All Japan Championships. We believe, although it's hard to confirm, that that was just his 4th loss to a Japanese opponent in the amateur ranks, where he purportedly went 133-3 (101), won 13 domestic titles and scored a RSC win over Ryota Murata before his ill fated return. Sadly though his full amateur record is unknown with only his domestic records counting towards that record. Still 100 stoppages in the amateurs is rather staggering!
Bonus fact - Sato was given the nickname the "Asian Cannon"
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 Kazakhstan's first world champion Vasily Jirov....and Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
1-As the IBF Cruiserweight champion Vasily Jirov was the first Kazakh to win a world title, but he isn't the only world champion from Kazakhstan, another is Middleweight great Gennady Golovkin.
2-On April 25th 2009 Gennady Golovkin recorded his 16th professional win, stopping Anthony Greenidge in 5 rounds. The main event of that card saw Felix Sturm retain the WBA Middleweight title as he stopped Japanese challenger Koji Sato, who had entered the bout 14-0 (13)
3-Not many Japanese fighters fighters make their debut in the US, though Koji Sato did actually did begin on US soil when he made his debut in 2005, stopping Francisco Valdez in Las Vegas on his debut. Another Japanese fighter who debuted on US soil was Yasutsune Uehara, who debuted in Honolulu in 1972, in fact his first 5 professional bouts were all fought at the Honolulu International Center.
4-In 1980 Yasutsune Uehara claimed the WBA Super Featherweight title for Japan by defeating Samuel Serrano with a 6th round KO win in Detroit. The win was the Ring Magazine Upset of the Year for 1980
5-Another Ring Magazine Upset of the Year saw a then unbeaten Vic Darchinyan being stopped in 5 rounds by a then unknown Nonito Donaire, who put himself on the map with this win, in a big way, and claimed the 2007 Upset of the Year.
6-Nonito's Donaire's win over Darchinyan wasn't just the Upset of the Year, in the eyes of Ring Magazine, but also KO of the year. With that KO Donaire become the second Filipino to win the KO of the Year award, following on from Morris East who win it in 1992 when he stopped Akinobu Hiranaka. The only other Filipino to hold the award is the legendary Manny Pacquiao taking us all the way through to the iconic Pacman.
As an aside Pacquiao has been on both sides of the of KO of the Year. His KO over Ricky Hatton saw Pacquiao win the KO of the Year award, whilst his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth bout saw him on the receiving end of the KO of the Year.
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).