For “Remarkable Rounds” our idea has always been to try and mix well known rounds with some less well known ones. This week we look at one of the more well known rounds in recent memory, and it was a round that left many fans becoming huge fans of both men, and amazingly came in the final round of a world title fight, following 11 other really good rounds.
We also have a personal affinity to the fight as it’s one we helped fans see as we worked alongside CBC in building attention to the bout, which ended up being an instant classic, and one of, if not the, best fights of 2018!
Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) Vs Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7)
For this round we go back to September 2018 when Sho Kimura was defending the WBO Flyweight title against unbeaten sensation Kosei Tanaka. On paper the two men could hardly be more different.
In one corner was the underrated Sho Kimura, who had won the WBO Flyweight title in a massive upset in China in 2017. Prior to winning the world title Kimura was pretty much an unknown fighter, with even those in Japan not really being familiar with him. His title win came in a huge shock against Chinese star Zou Shiming, and almost immediately the Chinese fans took Kimura as one of their own. After winning the title he had made two defenses, stopping Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar, before taking on fast rising countryman Kosei Tanaka.
At this point in his career Tanaka was well regarded by hardcore fans, who had seen him winning world titles at Minimumweight and Light Flyweight in his first 8 bouts. Despite only having 11 bouts coming into this bout with Kimura he had already proven himself with wins against the likes of Ryuji Hara, Julian Yedras, Vic Saludar, Moises Fuentes and Angel Acosta. Although not a huge name across Japan he was a star in the Chubu region, and CBC were looking to help build him into a bigger star.
Kimura had turned professional with no fanfare or buzz. He had lost in his debut and had pretty much rebuilt himself afterwards, doing so without any sort of notable publicity. He had just gritted his teeth, improved, and slowly built a reputation as a tough guy with limitless energy. He had no major amateur background, he had no big backing and no TV behind him. Instead he had to grind for every bit of success. He was more of a fighter than a boxer.
Tanaka on the other hand was a former amateur standout. He had turned professional to notable publicity in Chubu, and his career was documented from when he was an amateur right up to this bout. He had been treated like a special fighter, with CBC in Nagoya backing him from the off. He was, for all intents, Chubu’s answer to Naoya Inoue, and like Inoue he was deemed a sensational young fighter, with the ability to be a true national star down the line. He was all about speed, skills, and his very solid amateur pedigree. He was a boxer, albeit one with a warrior’s mentality and heart.
The first 11 rounds of this bout were brilliant. Both men had shown what was in their locker, both men had asked massive questions of the other and both had brought the best out of the other man. They had given us 11 amazing rounds. Yet the best was yet to come.
From the opening seconds of the round the two men went up close with Kimura unloading a flurry, then Tanaka came back, Kimura wasn’t to be denied and continued pressing and seemed to be bossing the round until Tanaka came back at him, showing what he could do. Then the two men each tried to exchange big right hands before we were again into a war of wills up close. In this, lengthy, back and forth, Kimura seemed to take the early advantage and certainly out threw Tanaka but was backed up by the cleaner, harder shots of the younger man. Kimura then turned the tables his way, again, and began to grind down Tanaka with volume until Tanaka, once again, responded.
By the end of the round both men looked exhausted, swollen, glad it was over and with a new found respect for each other. Fans however were left amazing by what they had seen, and knew they had sat through something truly remarkable.
It was a round that was like a mini bout, with multiple momentum shifts through it, various changes in tempo and action and a genuinely amazing round. It failed to deliver a knockdown. Neither man was stumbled or badly rocked. Yet it was still a round that perfectly combined action, drama and skills. It was a perfect round, and an absolutely amazing way to end the fight. A truly brilliant ending to a sensational fight.
One of the best things about boxing is just how well hidden and even forgotten some things are. Today we have a great example of that in this edition of "Remarkable Rounds" which comes from the early 1980's. The bout is not one that we suspect many fans will have seen but every single fight fans owes it to themselves to watch, and then watch again. It’s less than a full 3 minutes, but it has more drama, action and twists than many 12 round bouts.
Isaya Ikhoni (4-1, 4) vs Hiroshi Osumi (4-4-1, 4)
Before we discuss the round we do need to introduce the two men involved in it. In one corner was Japanese based Kenyan Isaya Ikhoni, then fighting as Yonekura Ikhoni after taking the Yonekura name from the gym he was fighting out of. Prior to turning professional Ikhoni had been a successful amateur, with reportedly over 100 bouts and upon turning professional he looked really good. By just his third bout he was fighting in 10 rounds, and raced out to 4-0 (4) in just over 6 months as a professional. He was then beaten by Hikaru Tomonari and the loss seemed like a real setback for him. To rebuild his confidence he went in with the limited Hiroshi Osumi.
Sporting a 4-4-1 record Osumi wasn’t a particularly good boxer, but he was a solid fighter, with fight changing power. He was crude, but if, and when he landed he could really mess people up. Despite his 4 losses it’s worth noting that 3 of those had come to Cheyenna Yamamoto, a future Japanese national champion and his draw had come to Masaharu Owada, another future Japanese champion. He had only been stopped once in his 4 losses coming into this, and that was against Cheyenne Yamamoto, in 6 rounds in their third bout, and he went in against Ikhoni with the intention of upsetting the talented Kenyan.
From the very first seconds Osumi was pressing forward whilst Ikhoni was looking to box and move. Within 30 seconds we saw the first knockdown and it was a big one as a huge overhand right from Osumi dropped Ikhoni. Ikhoni got to his feet quickly but the Kenyan seemed to be in all sorts of trouble when Osumi waded in and the referee gave Ikhoni a standing count.
The bout could have been stopped after the knockdown, it could have been stopped when the referee decided to give Ikhoni a standing count. It could also have been stopped soon afterwards as Osumi started to ragdoll his man around the ring. Ikhoni there to be taken out and Osumi knew it as he pursued his man. Ikhoni held, spoiled, tried to clear his head, slipped and ducked and did all he could to try and see out the aggressive charge of Osumi. He was then hurt again and decided his best plan was to fight fire with fire. After a huge flurry from Ikhoni we had the third knockdown of the fight, with Osumi hitting the canvas. He tried to get to his feet, and he tried to continue, but he couldn’t and he ended up being counted out after just over 2 minutes of the round.
This was chaos. This was thrilling. This was a remarkable round and this is worth every second of your time to watch. A truly brilliant 1 round shootout.
In 2019 we were lucky enough to catch some wildly entertaining rounds, from all sorts of venues. Among the most interesting venues were the Korean boxing clubs, and despite not looking like they deserved a great fight we seemed to get at least one sensational at every club show. Today we take one of the best rounds, from one of the most entertaining Korean Club shows of 2019, and share in the latest Remarkable Rounds.
Seung Hee Lee (3-6, 1) vs Jin Soo Kim (6-6-1, 3)
We need to go into this one with total brutal honesty. Seung Hee Lee and Jin Soo Kim are not world class fighters in the making. They are, pretty much, never going to go beyond Korean domestic level. They are not good boxers. But when it comes to remarkable rounds the quality of the fighters doesn't matter. We're here for entertainment, excitement, action, and for leather to be thrown like confetti at a wedding! And those things were all delivered here.
The first 2 rounds of the bout has seen Lee, the naturally bigger, heavier and younger man, press the action and get to the smaller, more experienced Kim. Despite the success of Lee Kim was landing plenty of solid shots of his own, typically as counters as Lee rushed in. It was a fun, but messy, bout, through 2.
Then we got to round 3 and oh boy was it clear we were getting something special.
The venue had began to fill with fans, people crowding around the little ring to watch the action that was unfurling in the ring, and they joined just in time for something truly brilliant. From the opening seconds the action was intense with Lee backing Kim up, pushing him on to the ropes and letting shots go. Time and time again Kim's head would snap back, he couldn't create space with his movement, so instead he tried slipping and sliding on the ropes to counter. This gave up some wildly entertaining, crude yet breath taking action.
Kim was left bloodied, but he refused to be beaten and kept landing just enough counters to prevent the referee from getting involved. Lee refused to stop throwing.
Don't let the venue confuse you here. This is a great round of low level, low key, warriors just going at it. Yes it's low level, but man is it ever entertaining!
One of the best things about this sport is the unpredictable nature of it. Larry Merchant one called it the Theatre of the unexpected, and we feel like that is one of the most perfect descriptions of the sport. It's part of what makes today's Remarkable Round so amazing. It seemed be so unpredictable through out, swinging one way until the unthinkable happened. This was a round that needs reliving, it needs to be re-seen and it needs to be enjoyed once again.
Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym (16-0, 13) vs Leo Gamez (32-6-1, 24)
Back in March 1999 Venezuelan great Leo Game claimed the WBA Flyweight title, stopping Hugo Rafael Soto in 3 rounds to become a 3-weight world champion. At that point Gamez was 35, he had score just 1 win in 3 years and was assumed to have been beyond shot. He then noted his first defense in May, stopped Joshue Comacho, before travelling to Thailand to take on the unbeaten Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym.
Although unbeaten Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym was something of an unknown. He was 25 years old and, for the most part, been matched softly. His biggest wins were over Willy Salazar and Luigi Castiglione, both of which were defenses of the lightly regarded WBU title. He was entering into this bout as the home town fighter, but also the man stepping up to face a world class fighter, and the then reigning world champion.
The first 7 rounds were pretty much won, with ease, by the Thai local, but Gamez wasn't a man who was just going to hand his title over and in round 8 he managed to land some solid shots early in the round as his bull like strength paid dividends. Sornpichai responded with some of his own, but the pressure and experience of Gamez was starting to drag the inexperienced Thai into a phone booth war. Sornpichai was happy to battle and went to town with Gamez on the ropes. To his credit Gamez fought back well, picked his shots and then turned the tables managing to put Sornpichai in trouble.
With Sornpichai stumbling Gamez saw his chance, going for the kill, until he ate a huge left hand that dropped the champion flat on to his back.
Gamez, some how beat the count, but the referee was unwilling to let the veteran continue, sending the local fans into fits of joyous rapture.
This is a round that perfectly encompasses why we love boxing. It was dramatic, exciting, and like something taken from a Rocky movie. A special round, with a sensational finish, great back and forth and something that needs to be seen!
For this series, focusing on Remarkable Rounds, one of the key things we want to focus on is drama, action, intensity and what the 3 minutes means. As a result a lot of the bouts we're going to cover aren't from high profile bouts, but are great rounds that give us something amazing during one of the rounds. With that in mind we want to bring you one of the most thrilling, action packed, exciting rounds from 2019. This has all the marks of a must watch round, even if it did come in a low key 4 rounder.
Ryugo Ushijima (2-0, 1) vs Shota Ogasawara (3-1, 2)
The unbeaten Ryugo Ushijima was a 17 year old who had made his debut in July 2018 with a razor thin win over Kenta Nakano. He had then picked up an early blow out win in late 2018 and was looking to extend his perfect winning run in February 2019 when he took on Shota Ogasawara.
At the time of this fight Ogasawara was 23, he had debuted in 2016 and had won his first 2 bouts before losing a decision to Mirai Imagawa in 2017. Following his first loss he took almost 17 months out of the ring before resurfacing in late 2018, picking up a win. After that win he moved up from Bantamweight to Featherweight to face Ushijima.
Stood at 5'10" Ushijima was a a 17 year old kid, with a long and rangy frame, that still looked immature, and like he needed time to full mature. Despite still looking like a child he managed the weight well and he looked a tall, rangy fighter who knew how to use his physical assets well, with good movement and a decent jab.
In the first round we saw Ushijima use his speed and jab brilliantly to keep control of the bout and easily take the round. That was before we got to round 2, which is where we join the fight for this Remarkable Round.
Ushijima tried to replicate the success he had in the opening round, using his height and jab to keep Ogasawara and early on it worked. He even let some more spiteful stuff go whilst looking in complete control. That was until the middle of the round, when Ogasawara caught Ushijima clean with a left hook, dropping the teenager. With his man hurt Ogasawara went on the hunt, chasing Ushijima, and unloading on his man who was forced to hold and survive.
for pretty much a full 70 seconds Ogasawara tried to finish off Ushijima, who hold, spoiled, and looked to survive the impending storm. That was until we had 12 seconds left in the round and Ushijima landed a short right hand. The shot dropped Ogasawara who looked shocked, confused and lost whilst trying to beat the count. With just seconds of the round left the referee waved off the bout, likely wondering where that thunderbolt came from.
Whilst not the most exciting rounds in terms of intensity and out put, and it certainly does have some holding and spoiling, few can doubt the drama of this one. Ogasawara looked to be on the verge of a finish, before getting finished himself. It was dramatic, it was exciting and it was a fantastic finish. A really brilliant round!
Once again we need to apologise for not having a full round to share in this edition of "Remarkable Rounds", but it's with good reason. The reason being that this is an action packed round that we doubt many have seen! It was short, but it was great and we had some tremendous back and forth before the ending came! The round had bombs from both men, and clean shots taken until one of the fighters was simply done.
Shuichi Isogami (19-1-2, 13) vs Hitoshi Ishigaki (6-0, 5)
For this round we head back to the summer of 1979 for a bout at Korakuen Hall between two men we don't expect many fans to be aware of. Despite that they managed to provide something a little bit special.
Of the two men we suspect Shuichi Isogami is the more well known. Later in his career he managed to win the Japanese Bantamweight title, as well as fight for both the WBA and OPBF titles, losing to Jorge Lujan in a 1980 world title tilt. Coming in to this he was experienced on the Japanese domestic scene but lacked in terms of notable wins, with his best being against the likes of Go Mifune, Hurricane Teru, Yung Shik Kim and Yu Kasahara.
Hitoshi Ishigaki was a novice at this point in his career and was taking a big step up. This was supposed to be his big step towards a Japanese title fight, a win here was supposed to advance him to that position. He had looked like a wrecking ball since starting his career but had there was a lot of questions over him coming into this bout.
We won't go over what happened in the first 8 rounds, but instead, we'll plonk you at the start of round 9.
From the opening seconds of the round Isogami was pressing but Ishigaki wasn't going to be giving up like that and after around 30 seconds he turned the tide, at least temporarily, as the two men took it in turns to be the boss. Isogami would then appear to take over, but was caught by bombs as Ishigaki fought back off the ropes. And then a huge left hook, from Isogami seemed to leave Ishigaki out on his feet, where he took another couple of clean shots.
It was there that the referee stepped in. He ended the round early, but he had no choice. Ishigaki was done.
When we first considered doing this "Remarkable Rounds" series there was a number of rounds we had in our minds as one we wanted to use. One of those was the 7th round from the 2016 war between Kenji Ono and Jun Takigawa. It was a round that thrilled us at the time and is one we will still go back to on a pretty regular basis when we question our love of the sport. It is one of those rounds that makes you realise that boxing, at it's core, is the best combination sport and entertainment and that even the fighters we never hear about can give us those moments that are still special, years later.
Kenji Ono (9-1, 4) v Jun Takigawa (7-1-1, 4)
On paper this was a brilliantly matched bout and yet it ended up over delivering, big time.
In one corner was Teiken hopeful Kenji Ono, who had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2014 and had slowly been making his way up the rankings. Aged 27 at the time of this bout it was assumed that 2016 was going to be a big year for him, and that he was going to rapidly progress towards a title fight of some kind.
In the other corner was Jun Takigawa, who'se only loss had come to Reiya Konishi, a future multi-time world title challenger. He had proven to be a powerful and aggressive fighter though he was very much the "away" fighter here, travelling from Aichi to Tokyo for the fight, which took place at Korakuen Hall. With that away fighter mentality we dare say that Takigawa may have felt the needed to make sure that the judges couldn't possibly deny him.
The bout had been dramatic early on, with both men taking punishment. Takigawa had almost been down early on, he had then been cut and dropped in round 6, but his determination to battle on continue showed, as we got to round 7.
Just seconds into the round a tired Takigawa was dropped on to his backside from a straight left hand from Ono. He got back to his feet and then began to take the fight to Ono, as desperation crept in. This saw him rocking Ono who tried to create distance but struggled to keep Takigawa at range before being dropped himself. We still had more than half the round left and Takigawa was buoyed on by the knockdown that he scored as he went hunting for Ono.
Ono, to his credit, held and spoiled before regrouping and dropping Takigawa, who was almost sent out of the ring. This could have been the end but not for Takigawa who got back to his feet, took the mandatory 8 count and again took the fight to Ono, giving everything he had.
Sadly for Takigawa he would go on to be stopped the next round, in a bout that took a lot from both men, who never looked the same after this incredible war.
Please note - The sound for this video isn't great and you may wish to watch the round with reduced sound or even muted. Unfortunately we were unable to find a better copy of the bout to take the round from.
One thing we don't want to do too often in this series is share an incomplete round, however every so often we feel it's just and fair, and that's the case here with a round from a truly sensational war from 1995. It was a bout that everyone should make time to see, but if they can then we suggest you plonk yourself down, grab a biscuit and enjoy the brilliant, though incomplete, round 7 from a true classic.
Saman Sorjaturong (26-2-1, 21) vs Humberto Gonzalez (43-2, 30)
To set the stage we need to realise what we had in the ring here. In one corner was unified Light Flyweight champion Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez, one the best little men in history. He was like a mini Tyson with power, aggression and tenacity. Although he had 45 bouts to his name he was only 29 years old coming into this fight and had looked sensation in his previous 7, avenging one of his two losses, twice!
In the other corner was little known Thai Saman Sorjaturong. The Thai had fought for a world title once before, and found himself being demolished by the legendary Ricardo Lopez in 2 rounds. Saman was dropped in round and twice in round 2 by "Finito" as his hopes of becoming a world champion were dashed. At least for the time. Some 11 wins later he was then given a shot at Gonzalez.
From the open bell the bout was sensational and it had seen tremendous action almost immediately. That action quickly turned into drama, with Gonzalez being dropped in round 2 before starting to break down the Thai, who was dropped in rounds 5 and 6.
Heading into round 7 it seemed like the pressure, power and experience of Gonzalez was going to be too much for the Thai. And then we got into the round.
Just seconds into round 7 they were trading with Saman forced to fight with his back on the ropes, he managed to turn the tables and quickly dropped Gonzalez, who got up with blood smeared all over his face. Gonzalez tried to take the fight back to Saman but the Thai was buoyed by the knockdown and by seeing the crimson mask on Gonzalez. From there the bout was his as he just unloaded, forcing Lou Filippo to step in.
If you've never seen this minute of carnage you really should treat yourself, no matter how busy your day is!
For this week's remarkable round we're going to bring you a criminally forgotten round. We didn't get any knock downs, or a stoppage but what we saw was 3 minutes of high octane back and forth action. The round saw momentum shift one way and then the other and then back and back again. It was thrilling from start to end and yet is very rarely spoken about now, just 9 years on. In reality this is one that deserves a watch, and a rewatch.
Tomonobu Shimizu (18-3-1, 9) vs Hugo Fidel Cazares (35-6-2, 25)
In one corner was Japanese fighter Tomonobu Shimizu, a gutsy contender who had come up short in previous world title fights to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Daisuke Naito. Although a very talented fighter he had been stopped in both of his previous world title bouts and had also been stopped in his other loss, an early career defeat to Kaennakorn Klongpajol. Although very skilled the feeling was that he lacked the durability to be a world champion.
In the opposite corner to Shimizu was Mexican warrior Hugo Fidel Cazares. "El Increible" as he was known had been the WBA Super Flyweight champion since dethroning Nobuo Nashiro in 2010 and had made 4 defenses of the title, including on in Japan against Hiroyuki Kudaka around 8 months before this bout. At the time he was regarded, by many, as the top dog in the division, and although his competition since winning the title was limited he was strongly favoured to over-come Shimizu here.
Notably Cazares had only lost twice in the previous 11 years, with both of those losses coming to Ivan Calderon.
The first 7 rounds of the bout had been incredibly engaging, with Cazares looking the stronger man but having a slow start. Shimizu got off to a really good start, taking the lead in the early going, but Cazare's strength, power, pressure and work rate had reeled the challenger back in.
And then we got in to round 8, and boy what a round this was!
It took a few seconds to get going but when it began to move on it did so rapidly with Cazares taking control early and dominated the first 40 seconds, then Shimizu came back at the champion, giving the round it's first swing. Then Shimziu managed to hurt Cazares, sending the crowd and commentary into fits of excitement, but then Cazares gutted it out and fired back. With just over a minute to go the round was up for grabs, but Shimizu knew he had his man on the back foot. Cazares knew he couldn't let it slip away, after all he was the one with the momentum coming into the round.
If you've 3 minutes of time, give this one a watch, it's a real great round of back and forth action!
Typically the opening round of a fight sees two men feeling their way into a contest, getting a read on their opponent and getting things like their timing and range down. Sometimes however we end up with an opening round which is little more than a flat out war, a tear up and the type of round that leaves both men taking a lot of punishment. Today, in Remarkable Rounds, we look at one of the most exciting opening rounds to take place in a Japanese ring, with two men desperate to win, and two men both willing to lay it all on the line.
Takanori Hatakeyama (23-1-2, 18) vs Hiroyuki Sakamoto (35-4, 25)
In the summer of 2000 Takanori Hatakeyama returned to the ring after almost a year away and stopped Gilberto Serrano to claim the WBA Lightweight title. That win saw him become a 2-weight champion and build on his reputation as one of the most exciting and fun to watch Japanese fighters on the planet. He had, in 1999, lost to Lakva Sim and seemed to suggest that was him done with the sport, but then his hunger came back and h showed, against Serrano, that he still had it.
After his win over Serrano we saw Hatakeyama announce that the man he wanted to face was former world title challenger, and fellow Japanese fighter, Hiroyuki Sakamoto.
Sakamoto was regarded as a quiet fighter out of the ring, but the type of fighter who let his fists do the talking in the ring. He had had an horrific upbringing, which had included being abused by family and later put into a foster home, which had lead to a big fan following in Japan, and with his heavy hands and exciting style he made for great fights. He had come up short against Serrano, in a thriller, and sadly for him his career had been full of bad luck, including the injuries that cost him against Serrano.
The two men both knew how to put on a show, and between them they had been in numerous thrilling wars. This ended up being another war, with a truly sensational opening round.
As soon as the fight started Hatakeyama was half way across the ring, which seemed to fight up Sakamoto who unloaded bombs at mid range. From there on the round became a war, with both men landing monstrous hooks at mid-range, and trying to take the fight on the inside, where Sakamoto's uppercuts landed clean. Just over a minute into the round Sakamoto's left eye was a bloodied mess, but that hardly mattered to him as he continued coming forward, backing Hatakeyama on to the ropes.
After a great barrage from the challenger Hatakeyama came back, unleashing shots with both hands onto Sakamoto, who tried to respond with uppercuts in a round that simply flew by.
Although there was no knockdowns, and both men complained about head clashes, this was still a brutal, brutal way to begin a world title fight. The risks and punishment both men took in the opening round was a sign of what they would put each other through in one of the most under-rated fights of 2000. This was brutal and started in the best way imaginable, with both men landing bombs!
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).