Japanese tough guy Nobuo Nashiro only fought 26 times as a professional, between his 2003 debut and his final bout in 2013. Despite that he was a 2-time world champion who fought in 10 world title bouts, and an interim world title bout, and really did take on a relative who's who of the Super Flyweight division from 2006 to 2013. Among those he faced were Martin Castillo, Alexander Munoz, Kohei Kono, Hugo Fidel Cazares, Thomas Rojas, Suriyan Por Chokchai, Tepparith Kokietgym and Denkaosan Kaovichit.
Whilst few in the west are aware of Nashiro, which is disappointing as his career was genuinely action packed and interest. With that in mind we'd like to let fans get to know a little more about the tough southpaw, and so we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Nobuo Nashiro.
1-When Nashiro was boxing in high school he was guided by Hiroaki Takami, who had represented Japan at the 1984 Olympics in LA.
2-As an amateur Nashiro went a less than outstanding 38-19 (20)
3-Nobuo's brother is Yuji Nashiro, a Kickboxer who had mixed success from 2006 to 2013.
4-Given his lack of real amateur success Nashiro wasn't expected to be a star. That however changed when he upset Hidenobu Honda in what was a major upset. Honda, up to this point boasted a 26-3 (14) record, was world ranked, a 2-time world title challenger and his only losses, barring a defeat 8 years earlier, had come at world level. He was expected to move towards a third world title fight. Nashiro, on the other hand was 4-0 (3), had only fought 12 career rounds and was regarded as a "biting dog". The win instantly put Nashiro into the world title mix, and he would get his first world title shot less than 2 years later!
5-Nashiro is known as an incredibly tough guy, and that toughness extended away from boxing. In June 2007, after his loss to Alexander Munoz, Nashiro suffered a traffic accident and injured his cervical spine. Despite the injury he was back in the ring just months later, winning his return bout in November
6-Nashiro's final bout, a contest with Denkaosan Kaovichit, was delayed for 11 days by the organisers in Thailand. Interestingly the two men were relatively friendly with each other and Nashiro had sparred with Denkaosan, to help prepare for a bout with Tepparith Kokietgym.
7-Nashiro got married on April 29th 2009 to a woman he'd been dating for 6 years. He was engaged just weeks earlier, prior to his memorable bout with Konosuke Tomiyama.
8-In his free time he enjoys playing Billards
9-Nashiro's first child, a daughter, was born on January 12th 2011
10-Following his retirement from in ring activity Nashiro has played a major role in the development of boxing talent at Kindai University. He has been a lead boxing coach there and is now a director there. He took the training role with the hope of creating Olympic hopefuls for Tokyo 2020, though a number of fighters he has had a role in developing have recently gone professional, including excellent female fighter Kasumi Saeki. notably he was the first professional world champion to take a boxing director role at a University
One funny thing about upsets is that we can, genuinely, forget they were even upsets when we look back on them years later. They were shocking at the time, but due to what happened afterwards their shock factor subsides as we realise what was supposed to be a mismatch for one fighter turned into a coming out party for another. Today we look at one such bout, as a former world title challenger took on a novice, in what was supposed to be a tune up bout, but instead opened the door and moved the novice instantly into a contender.
August 7th 2004
Prefectural Gymnasium, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Nobuo Nashiro (4-0, 3) vs Hidenobu Honda (26-3, 14)
History books will show Nobuo Nashiro as a 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion, having won the title in for the first time in just his 8th professional bout. What most don't realise is that he wasn't all that highly touted as a prospect when he started his career. As an amateur he had gone 38-19 (20) and despite being talented wasn't expected to be moved in the way he was. His big break out win actually came in a big Japanese upset when he was supposed to be the opponent for former 2-time world title challenger Hidenobu Honda.
Although Nashiro was fairly talented, and had been matched harder than most novices, he was raw and didn't look like a special fighter in his first 4 bouts and was tested by Takashi Taketazu, who had lost his previous 2 bouts. Honda on the other hand was dubbed a "defensive master" having his 30th professional bout. Up to this point his only losses were a very early career set back against Keisuke Ono, in 1996, and losses to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Alexander Munoz, both of whom hard to work for their victories.
What we've of course seen in Japan in recent years are a lot of prospects being moved super fast, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Nashiro wasn't on their level of trajectory, but was regarded as a decent prospect all the same. Not an elite level prospect, but a solid hopeful. The type of fighter that Honda, who was still world ranked, should beat to prepare for another world title fight.
What we ended up seeing was very different to what was expected. Instead of being a "bite dog", as some suggested Nashiro would be, he ended up being a fighter who saw his opportunity and took the fight to Honda from the opening round. He pressured and pressed, out working Honda who's defensive skills were tested time and time again.
Given Honda was supposed to be using the bout as a tune up, no one seemed to tell Nashiro that his role was to lose. Instead Nashiro fought every round as if it was a big chance for his career. He looked crude at times, awkward at other times, but was strong, powerful, energetic and hungry. He fought with energy, letting his shots go, and more than willing to take one if he needed to.
After 10 rounds Nashiro managed to take home the decision, a close but clear unanimous decision.
The bout took Nashiro from an "unknown boxer" to being one of the next big hopes of Japanese boxing, and less than 2 years later he won the WBA Super Flyweight title for the first time.
Despite the big upset loss this wasn't the end for Honda. It did kill his third shot at a world title, though he would later go on to fight for, and lose in bouts for, the Japanese Super Flyweight and OPBF Bantamweight titles.
Over the last few years we've seen the Super Flyweight division getting more attention in the West, in part thanks to the excellent "Super Fly" series but also the way that more promoters from the US and UK are getting involved in the division. We have Eddie Hearn promoting both Juan Francisco Estrada and Kal Yafai, Top Rank in charge of Jerwin Ancajas and Tom Loeffler having his connections to Kazuto Ioka, and the Super Flyweight series of shows. Even the none champions, such as Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Aston Palicte has have backers in the US.
It wasn't always so good for the little men however, and going back just 10 years ago the division was in a very different state. We did have the all action Vic Darchinyan making his mark Stateside, as the WBC champion, but the other champions weren't really that well known. There was Marvin Sonsona, who held the WBO title, but failed to live up to the expectations put on his shoulders, Simphiwe Nongqayi holding the IBF title and Japan's Nobuo Nashiro holding the WBA title.
On paper the division was global, we had champions including an Australian based Armenia, a Filipino, a South African and a Japanese fighter. But the division was very much one that was only really watched by the hardcore. Darchinyan aside there was no recognisable star.
Despite the lack of star power the division was giving us a string of great fights, especially those involving Nobuo Nashiro, who was a tough and aggressive Japanese fighter. In just his 8th bout he claimed he title for the first time, stopping Martin Castillo. The reign was a short one, lasting less than a year, though he would reclaim the title only a few fights later when he stopped Kohei Kono to become a 2-time champion.
Exactly 10 years ago today Nashiro (13-1, 8 at the time) made his second defense, taking on Mexican challenger Hugo Fidel Cazares (30-6-1, 22 then ) in their first, of 2, bouts. On paper this had the makings of a great fight and the fight legitimately lived up to those expectations, with it being a fantastic 12 round bout.
Nashiro, as mentioned, was enjoying his second reign as a world champion but Cazares was himself no push over He had claimed the WBO Light Flyweight title in 2005, beating Nelson Dieppa in Puerto Rico, and had moved up after 2 losses to Ivan Calderon, in very close and hotly contested bouts. He had always looked huge at Light Flyweight and when his body was allowed to fill out he looked really dangerous at Super Flyweight, beating Roberto Vasquez in Panama in March 2009.
Through his career Cazares had repeatedly proven his value on the road. He had scored wins in Puerto Rico, as part of the long and historic Mexico Vs Puerto Rico wars, American, Panama, and being in Japan held no fear for the Mexican.
What we ended up getting wasn't an all out, 12 round brawl, but instead a technical, battle of wills. Cazares was boxing on the move, using his legs and speed to try and rack up the rounds against the tough and rugged Osakan. Nashiro on the other hand tried pressing, making the most of durability and trying to come on strong. What we ended up with was 12 engaging rounds of action. It wasn't a war, but it was a bout well worthy of a watch and a fight that got better the longer it went.
For those who haven't seen the bout before, we've included it below, and today is the ideal day to celebrate what was a great, great fight!
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).