Our "Reliving the Finish" series is a chance to look at some of the best KO's in the history of the sport, and we have one such KO today, in fact it's long been one of our absolute favourite KO's and is among the most visibly appealing KO's ever. Sadly it did come against a rather unknown fighter, but given that we enjoy KO's for what they are, rather than who they come against, we can still absolute love this one!
Takanori Hatakeyama (12-0, 10) vs Jae Woon Park (0-0)
We suspect any regular readers will be fully aware of our love with Takanori Hatakeyama. The Japanese Super Featherweight come Lightweight is a regular in our Closet Classic series, and his wars against the likes of Yong Soo Choi, Lakva Sim, Koji Arisawa, Hiroyuki Sakamoto and Rick Yoshimura are all worthy of a watch any day of the week. Here we're looking at his 13th professional bout, and it was a contest that came a long time before he won a world title. Despite that this is probably his most visually amazing KO.
Although Hatakeyama was racking up wins, often quick, he wasn't a man with much quality on his resume by this point. He had won the 1994 Rookie of the Year but was still being matched relatively softly whilst getting ready for a potential OPBF title fight.
Jae Woon Park on the other hand was an unknown Korean. According to Boxrec this was his debut, though we suspect he had had a few fights even if Boxrec haven't recorded them in their database. The evidence for that racks up with this being a scheduled 10 rounder and with the on screen graphic before the fight suggesting he was a ranked fighter and with Park not having another recorded fight until 2001.
Regardless of Park's history before this bout it's really this contest that he's known for.
The first round saw the Korean put up a fair effort. He didn't win the round but did prove that he wasn't there to just fall over the first time he was touched. Sadly for him though things changed massively in round 2, within the blink of an eye.
As soon as round 2 began Hatakeyama rushed as Park. Park saw a chance to strike and threw a right hand, which was partially blocked by Hatakeyama. Then it was Hatakeyama's time to let a shot go. When the Japanese fighter fired off he did so with a monstrous and lightning quick left hook. The shot landed clean and sent Park spinning, with his head swivelling on the spot, and his body following, turning 180 before crashing with his neck falling onto one of the ropes before he bounced back into the ring. It was gorgeous and looked like a KO from a movie. This is a truly spectacular finish and something worth watching back over and over.
The round starts and within the blink of an eye we have one of the greatest looking KO's ever.
Great KO's are something we don't see enough of, but when they come against the run of the rest of the round they are even better. Today we look at a brutal KO from 1997. Sadly this isn't one with replays but is still a KO that should be spoke about, as it was glorious and came very much against the run of the fight up to that point.
Koji Arisawa (15-0, 12) vs Yutaka Nishida (14-6-1, 3) II
In April 1996 the exciting and heavy handed Koji Arisawa won the Japanese Super Featherweight title. He made his first defense 3 month later by stopping talented southpaw Yutaka Nishida in 3 rounds. Another defense later in the year saw Arisawa extend his unbeaten run to 15-0 (12) before he clashed with Nishida in a rematch.
For those who haven't seen Arisawa before he was a genuine domestic star in Japan. He was a good looking fighter-boxer who's looks appealed to female fans and his in ring style appealed to casual fans, who always enjoy a puncher. He didn't have the natural ability to go all the way, and completely lacked anything in terms of notable amateur experience, but he was a TV friendly fighter with heart and firepower. He could certainly be out boxed, but few were going to beat him, domestically at least, in a war.
Yutaka Nishida on the other hand was a much more technical fighter. He lacked the explosive power and heavy hands of the champion but was a very skilled southpaw, with a lovely crisp jab, good movement and a smart boxing brain. Sadly he had come up short in two other Japanese title fights before this bout, once to Arisawa and once to Toshikazu Suzuki. Although he had 6 losses to his name he had beaten Hiroyuki Maeda and looked like a clear talent.
Having been stopped in 3 rounds in their first meeting Nishida knew he had to avoid getting into a war with Arisawa. For the first 2 and a half minutes or so he had done that brilliantly. He had easily out boxed Arisawa, popping the champion with his jab and some very sharp straight left hands. It was the perfect start for Nishida.
And then, out of nowhere Arisawa threw a jab, Nishida tried to counter with a straight but was then on the wrong end of a thunder bolt of a right hand counter himself, that sent Nishida crashing hard to the canvas. He tried to get up but the referee knew he wasn't in a fit state to continue, waving off the bout with Nishida flat on his back.
We know this would be better with replays but sadly we don't have those. What we suggest is rewatching at quarter speed to see just how clean the shot is. It's an absolute beauty from Arisawa and one of the best he landed during his career.
Sadly for Nishida this was the end of his career and he never fought again. As for Arisawa he would go on to lost his title in 1998 in a brilliant bout with Takanori Hatakeyama, in one of the most famous Japanese title bout in history and one of the best Japanese titles bouts to ever take place.
When we talk about some of the most eye catching KO's in recent years many of them have involved a Filipino. Whether it was the Filipino fighter scoring them, or receiving them it's hard to ignore how many great KO's have come when a bout has featured a Filipino. Today we take a look at one of the best finishes of 2007 and it was a finish that helped put one rising Filipino fighter on the global boxing map.
Nonito Donaire (17-1, 10) Vs Vic Darchinyan (28-0, 22) I
In one corner was 24 year Nonito Donaire, at the time he was rather unknown and was lacking not just a world title but a win of any note. In the other corner was hard punching IBF Flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan.
At the time Donaire really was an unknown, unless you followed the amateur boxing scene as Donaire was a very solid amateur. He had fought 18 times a professional but hadn't done anything to make a name for himself. His biggest wins weren't big and at this point his brother, Glenn Donaire, was a more well known fighter. Whilst his brother was more well known Nonito was the better boxer, the more rounded fighter and the more intelligent boxer, rather than the hard nosed, aggressive fighter that his older brother was.
Darchinyan on the other hand had won the IBF Flyweight title, made numerous defenses and had defeated Donaire's older brother. At this point in time he was starting to creep into the random pound of pound lists and was feared as one of the sports most destructive little men. He had been talking about unification bouts at Flyweight and the hope was for him to get past Donaire and move into bigger bouts. Bouts that could attract a more notable slot on the card and get more eyes on his contests.
Although not a polished fighter Darchinyan was exciting, hard hitting, willing to take one to land one, loud, brash and and grabbing a lot of attention. Going in this was seen as his next step towards something big.
From the off Donaire was surprising everyone, taking the fight to Darchinyan and showing no fear at all of the champion. Darchinyan had moments, but looked like he was regularly coming off second best against the younger, faster, fresher fighter. Through the first 4 rounds Donaire was doing more than enough to establish himself, and had done more than most had expected.
Despite Donaire looking in control the finish however a bit out of nowhere. Darchinyan rushed Donaire, looking to land a left hand. Donaire countered however, with a brutal and incredibly quick fire left hook. Donaire's shot landed clean, and sent Darchinyan crashing to the canvas.
To his credit Darchinyan got up, but had no idea where he was as the referee waved the bout off, with Darchinyan falling into the ropes.
The bout was regarded by many as the Upset of the Year and the finish was seen as the KO of the Year. It was brilliant, unexpected and helped make Donaire a star.
The shot put Donaire on the map, saw him win the IBF Flyweight title and begin his surge through the sport. Surprisingly it didn't finish off Darchinyan's career, with the Australian based Armenian bouncing back to unify titles at Super Flyweight and being a contender at Bantamweight in the years that followed.
Over the years boxing has had some amazing finishes to bouts and we look at another memorable finish today as we travel back to 2009 and focus on a bout in Monterrey, Mexico. The bout isn't as well remembered as it should be, but featured two huge names, at least for lower weight fighters, in a really interesting match up between East and West.
Toshiaki Nishioka (33-4-3, 20) vs Jhonny Gonzalez (40-6, 34)
In September 2008 Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka won the WBC "interim" Super Bantamweight title as he took a wide decision over Napapol Sor Rungvisai, winning a big one at last following 4 set backs against Veeraphol Sahaprom.That title was quickly upgraded to the full version by the time Nishioka returned to the ring and stopped Genaro Garcia the following January. The talented "Speed King" wanted to be a bigger name internationally however and whilst he could have stayed in Japan defending his belt for years he chased bigger things. That lead him to Mexico to face the monstrously heavy handed Jhonny Gonzalez, a former WBO Bantamweight champion.
Although Nishioka was the champion he wasn't very well known outside of Japan. That was something he always seemed to want to change. Prior to this bout he had fought in France, being one of the very few Japanese fighters to win a bout in Europe, and in the US. In fact later in his career he made a big effort to become more well known in the West fighting his final two bouts in the US.
Gonzalez on the other hand was well known. The Mexican was regarded as one of the most devastating punchers in the sport. He combined his freakish power with solid boxing fundamentals and was a really talented boxer-puncher. Although he had 6 losses to his name 4 of those had come very early in his career, and he had since gone 26-2 (22), with both losses coming by stoppage whilst leading on the scorecards against world class opponents.
The Mexican challenger was the betting favourite and got off to a good start, putting Nishioka down in the opening round. He had proven he could hurt the champion but Nishioka wasn't there to just hand over his title. In fact the bout was a really technical match up with both men looking to line up their power shots. Neither man was wanting to give the other too many openings, with Nishioka knowing that Gonzalez could punch like a mule, and Gonzalez having been stopped in his last 2 defeats.
About a minute into round 3 Gonzalez threw a rather slow straight, followed by a jab and then another straight. Nishioka slipped them well then took his turn to throw, throwing a blinding jab before landing a dynamite straight left hand. The shot nearly took Gonzalez's head off, dropping him hard. Somehow the Mexican got to his feet, defying everyone's eyes, but he was gone, wobbling when up as the referee called a halt on the contest.
Whilst this wasn't the cleanest of KO's, in terms of leaving a man flat out, it was one of the cleanest shots you'll see land.
This is a big of a forgotten finish, but was a spectacular one!
Some of the best KO's come from fighters we don't think of as punchers and that's what we have today thanks to a 2017 bout that saw a brilliant KO scored by someone who think more of as a boxer-mover rather than a puncher. Interestingly it came against someone who was boasting a high KO rating. This was genuine one of the most over-looked KO's of the year and one of the most perfectly timed.
Masaru Sueyoshi (13-1, 8) vs Allan Vallespin (9-0, 8)
Japanese boxer Masaru Sueyoshi was climbing his way through the ranks as we entered 2017. He had scored 10 straight wins and was moving towards a domestic title fight thanks to wins against the likes of Kazuma Sanpei, Roman Canto and Shingo Eto. Although he had been in great form, and showing a lot of improvements, he wasn't seen as a puncher. In fact Sueyoshi was more of an awkward, high skilled boxer who often controlled the distance and tempo of a bout whilst keeping things at long range.
Allan Vallespin on the other hand was a relative unknown outside of the Philippines. At home he was blowing away low level opponents. From his first 9 bouts he had scored 5 wins in the opening round, and had also picked up the GAB Super Featherweight title. Despite looking good against low level domestic opposition this bout was a big step up in class and was coming in Vallespin's international debut. He was expected to have the power and aggression to bother Sueyoshi, but probably not the skills to over-come the rising local.
What we ended up with was a stunning finish. Before we got there the bout was really not too interesting.
Anyone who has seen Sueyoshi before will know what to expect from the first few rounds. He tried to set an awkward distance, drawing mistakes and countering without taking too much damage or over exerting himself. It wasn't the most exciting of bouts but it was clear that Sueyoshi was neutralising the apparent power and aggression of Vallespin. It wasn't pretty but it was effective from Sueyoshi who used his educated jab very well.
Early in round 3 Vallespin became more aggressive, throwing wild shots at Sueyoshi in the hope of landing something. It wasn't an issue for Sueysohi, who saw the shots coming a mile off, but it did give the Japanese fighter openings to really counter.
About 45 seconds into the round Vallespin over-committed and missed with a right hand, catching a left hook as punishment, a left hook from Vallespin was then thrown as he was tagged by a huge straight that sent him crashing to the canvas.
This was gorgeous to watch and perfectly executed by Sueyoshi, who certainly opened up the eyes of some fans on the back of this impressive finish.
When we started this series we didn't expect to be talking about many great KO's scored by a fighter making their debut, but this time around we get to talk about a great KO scored by a fighter on their pro debut. Not only that, but it was also scored earlier this year!
Rentaro Kimura (0-0) vs Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1)
After having had a successful amateur career Rentaro Kimura turned professional earlier this year. As an amateur he had won 3 national titles, scored over 70 amateur wins and had a lot of hype in Japan before making his debut. Unlike many Japanese debutants he didn't debut against a foreign fighter, sadly for him that wasn't something that was possible due to the global situation. Instead he had to take on a domestic fighter, and as a result he was matched with Yuya Azuma behind closed doors at Korakuen Hall.
It's fair to say that any amateur standout making their professional debut will want a crowd, they'll want family and friends behind them, seeing them begin their professional journey. Sadly that wasn't possible for Kimura, though thankfully we did have the Fuji TV camera's rolling and they managed to show his entire debut just days after it took place.
Before we talk about the finish we do need to talk, briefly about Yuya Azuma. He had a somewhat scratchy looking record but had won his last 3 bouts, including an upset over Ryo Tanimoto, and, with a little bit of luck, he could easily have been 8-1. He had never been stopped and he had only been clearly beaten once, by Ryuku Oho in June 2018 in what was Azuma's 4th professional bout.
Although no world beater Azuma had proven his ability at at the lower level of the Japanese domestic scene. The win over Ryo Tanimoto was solid, but he had also given rising prospect Tom Mizokoshi a very close run contest.
Azuma had come to win, he had proven that in the first round, by trying to box with Kimura and then trying to take the fight to him in the early stages of round 2. Midway through round 2 however we saw Kimura show his class in a short, but brutal, combination that saw everyone watching get very, very excited about the youngster.
The finish began when Kimura backed Azuma on to the ropes. He then followed up with a few feints, drawing a mistake from Azuma, which was then instantly punished by a brutal combination of straight left hands and sensational uppercuts. The combination send Azuma crashing to the canvas, and forced the referee to wave off the bout. Within the blink of an eye we had seen Kimura lay out Azuma, and poor Azuma had no idea what had happened.
On replay things looked even more brutal, with the finishing uppercut in particularly looking incredibly nasty as it snapped back the head of Azuma.
The finishing combination had been a straight left that had rocked Azuma, a right uppercut, a left hand around the guard, another right that looked more like a jab than anything, a monstrous left hand, and then another right uppercut. The uppercut at the end snapped back the head of Azuma before he crashed to the canvas.
Despite Azuma being badly hurt from the first shot in the combination there no way the referee could have stopped the action, the flew from Kimura with such speed and accuracy that the referee was simply unable to save Azuma from the final blows.
This was nasty from Kimura and the perfect way to make a statement on his debut.
Despite having no fans in attendance Kimura had left the TV audience with something to remember and had left Fuji TV with the perfect highlight reel quality KO. This is how you make a statement in a fan free environment, and this was the perfect way for Kimura to close the show!
When we see a fighter with what we know is a solid chin being dropped it can awe us in a way that a typical KO doesn't. Today we look at a brutal KO from 2019 that left us in awe. We had seen a steel chin not just cracked, but burst and smashed with single spectacular shot. Not only was the shot a beauty but the way the recipient went down was even better, taking this from a great finish into a sensational one.
Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) Vs Akihiro Kondo (37-7-1, 18)
In February 2019 we got an IBF World title eliminator at 140lbs between teak tough Japanese veteran Akihiro Kondo and unknown Thai Downua Ruawaiking. On paper this seemed likely to be a really interesting match up. It was a test for both the young unbeaten fighter and a chance to Kondo to get a second shot, following a hard fought loss to the hard hitting Sergey Lipinets. What few would have expected was one of the most stunning finishes of the year.
As previously mentioned Kondo had already had a shot at the top losing to Sergey Lipinets. Prior to losing to Lipinets we had seen Kondo prove himself to be teak tough, hard working and a very talented fighter even if he was somewhat flawed. During his previous 45 bouts Kondo had beaten the likes of Valentine Hosokawa, Yoshitaka Kato, Rimrex Jaca, Shogo Yamaguchi and Jeffrey Arienza whilst winning domestic and regional honour.
Despite losing to Lipinets in 2017 we had seen Kondo take big shots and walkthrough through them, showing not just an iron chin but also an incredible will to win and incredible physical strength, forcing back the hard hitting Kazakh-born Russian.
Ruawaiking on the other hand had never even fought outside of Thailand. He was a prospect, but a relatively unknown one, who's best wins were against lower level regional competition, like Sonny Katiandagho and Adam Diu Abdulhamid, who had run him super closer. He was young, strong, tough and big at the weight, but very much unproven. The view was that if he was going to win it would be by out boxing Kondo, using his legs and movement, and making the most of the fact that Kondo was so much older than he was.
Despite being seen as the under-dog Downua had impressed in the first 4 rounds, doing what we had seen as his only way to win. He was boxing, moving, sticking the jab in Kondo's face and keeping things long. When Kondo was up close the Thai landed some solid shots of his own, but in the first 4 rounds he never seemed to buzz the Japanese fighter.
In round 5 however things changed, and of boy did they ever change in a dramatic and eye catching fashion!
Just after the half way point of round 5, which is where we join the fight for the finish, we see Downua land a massive right uppercut. The shot sent Kondo down like a an Angel who had just been hit in the head with a cannonball. The cast iron chin of Kondo had been smashed. His heart and will power were still there as he tried to beat the count, some how not being out cold, but he had no idea where he was when he was upright.
This was brilliantly eye catching, and a brilliant way for Downua to put himself on the map.
Last time in Reliving the Finish we looked at Akifumi Shimoda's TKO loss to Rico Ramos. Sadly for Shimoda that's not even the worst KO loss of his career, that came several years later in 2014, in one of the year's best KO's of the year.
Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1, 14) Vs Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2, 12)
In January 2011 Akifumi Shimoda won the WBA Super Bantamweight title and the following July he was stopped by Rico Ramos, losing his title in eye catching fashion. Following that loss Shimoda had managed to get his career back on track, going unbeaten in 6 bouts and getting himself on the verge of another world title fight.
Whilst Shimoda was rebuilding his career after a loss Filipino Marvin Sonsona was in a similar position, if not an even more intriguing one. The Filipino had won the WBO Super Flyweight title in September 2009, lost it on the scales, just 2 months later and then suffered a loss to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Following the loss to Vazquez, in February 2010, Sonsona had fought just 3 times in almost 4 years, completely wasting his once promising career.
This was the definition of a crossroad fight. Both men needed a win and neither could afford a loss.
The first 2 rounds of the bout saw Shimoda being the busier man whilst Sonsona looked the quicker man, but also the lazier man, doing little in terms of output but looking like he was getting a read on the Japanese fighter. Although it was clear Shimoda was doing more he never looked like he could hurt the confident and cocksure Filipino.
In round 3 things changed as Sonsona finally showed the touches of boxing genius that excited Filipino fans and seen him become one of the top youngsters in the sport. Before he ruined his own career with unprofessionalism.
Just over a minute into the round and with Sonsona's back on the ropes he threw a blinding jab, it missed by kept Shimoda's attention before a perfect left uppercut crashed onto Shimoda's chin. It was the perfect uppercut from Sonsona and landed as sweet as a peach, dropping Shimoda flat.
The win helped resurrect Sonsona's career. though sadly he failed to get things back on track and just a fight later had again turned the boxing world against him, with a dull and dreary non-performance in a rematch against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. As for Shimoda his career continued with mixed results before he finally retired, having never got another world title shot.
Everyone loves an eye catching KO, and they can easily make up forget a poor performance and a bout that was otherwise unmemorable. Today we look at a finish that was truly brilliant and came out of the blue. In fact this one of those rare ko's that bails a fighter out of of not only a bad performance, but also bails them out whilst they are way down on the cards.
Akifumi Shimoda (23-2-1, 10) vs Rico Ramos (19-0, 10)
In January 2011 Akifumi Shimoda ended the short WBA Super Bantamweight title reign of Ryol Li Lee, who had won the title in an upset against Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym. Shimoda's title win had been a multi-knockdown war with Lee and he looked like he was going to be a fun champion. His first defense came in July when travelled to the US to take on unbeaten American Rico Ramos.
At the time Ramos was 19-0 (10), he was regarded as a promising prospect but was stepping up massively here to challenge for the WBA title.
The bout really wasn't great. In fact it was really dire for the first 6 rounds. Shimoda did enough to take the lead, he boxed cautiously, but smartly and picked up rounds without needing to take risks and do too much at all. Ramos on the other hand looked confused by the southpaw stance of the champion, did little more than follow Shimoda around the ring early on, and then back off as the rounds went by. In all honesty Ramos looked like he was in sparring partner mode. Round by round Shimoda was stepping things up and in round 5 he managed to land some decent body shots.
After 6 rounds one judge had Shimoda pitching a shut out, the other two judges had been sympathetic to the challenger, giving him a round. Neither man had done much, but Shimoda had something.
In round 7 however everything was forgotten.
With less than 30 seconds of the round left Ramos landed a short sequences of punches. A right, a jab, a right and then a hook, dropping Shimoda, who got to his feet but was unable to steady himself forcing the referee to wave off the bout.
Despite being comfortably in the lead Shimoda had lost his title and suffered the first of two major stoppage losses for his career. As for Ramos his finish really was a flash in the pan moment. He lost the title the following January, being stopped by Guillermo Rigondeaux in what was another stinking performance from the America.
For the latest in our "Reliving the Finish" series we're looking at a relatively obscure 1990 bout for the Japanese Featherweight title. Whilst the bout isn't too well known in the west it is one of the biggest upsets ever on the Japanese domestic scene, and is true proof that a fighter's record really doesn't tell how good they can be or how dangerous they can be. In fact going in the man scoring the finish had just 1 KO in 9 professional bouts, but ended with on of the most surprising KO's of the year.
Toshikazu Sono (5-4, 1) vs Seiji Asakawa (16-1-1, 12)
Going into the bout the Japanese Featherweight champion was Seiji Asakawa, a man who looked like he was heading on to bigger and better things. He had recorded 5 title defenses, and looked like a man with serious power, a lot of potential and a very bright future. He was returning to Kobe, where he was from, to defend the title in what was supposed to be a tune up for a potential world title fight in 1991.
Toshikazu Sono on the other hand was a fighter going no where. He had lost his last bout, less than 2 months earlier, and was 1-3 in his last 4. He was getting his first title fight, but was expected to be easy for Asakawa to deal with.
After 3 fairly competitive rounds, that Asakawa was winning but was being forced to work in, it seemed the champion had managed to loosen up and was going to start going through the gears and would eventually break down Sono.
With more than 2 minutes gone in round 4 Asakawa found himself backed onto the ropes, and Sono threw a big looping right, then a monstrous left hook that landed hard on Asakawa's jaw. The left hand dropped the champion, hard. To his credit Asakawa got to his knees but had no idea where he was when the referee counted 10.
The knockout saw the title change hands, but wasn't the birth of a new star, as Sono retired following the win, retiring with a bizarre 6-4 (2) record. Asakawa on the other hand would later fight in 2 world title bouts, but would suffer stoppage losses in both of those bouts.
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).