One year ago we were lucky enough to work with CBC for the first time. We agreed terms to carry the official stream of their international broadcast for the WBO Flyweight world title bout between Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10 at the time) and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7 at the time).
Entering the bout Kimura was looking to make his third defense of the title, building on not only his title win against Zou Shiming but also wins against Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar. He was looking to continue his remarkable ascent from obscurity to star and build on real momentum that had been generated by his 3 wins at world level.
Tanaka on the other hand was looking to etch his place in history and match the record for fewest fights needed to become a 3 weight world champion, a record of 12 fights set just months early by Vasyl Lomachenko. He was looking to become a 3 weight champion at the age of just 23 and less than 5 years after making his debut.
We had high hopes for the bout. Kimura had been wonderfully impressive in recent bouts, not just his world level wins but also his win against Masahiro Sakamoto. He had shown real grit and determination,a great work rate, under-rated power and amazing energy. In fact he seemed to get stronger the longer fights went on. Tanaka on the other hand was an extremely skilled boxer, who got dragged into fights willingly, he had a reputation for getting into wars and had been dropped dropped twice just 2 fights previous by Palangpol CP Freshmart. Despite being skilled their was a sense of vulnerability about Tanaka that could have been his down fall here.
What we ended up getting was something exceeded expectations. It wasn't just a great fight, instead it was a bout that was widely hailed FOTY contender. A back and forth war that left fans on their seat, they styles of the two men gelling, the mentality of the two battling at the top. The fight was the sort of battle that makes people realise just how good fights with the little men can be.
On this anniversary of the bout we suggest you all relive this instant classic!
We also want to quickly explain that the rematch between Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and Yasuyuki Akiyama would have been on this list were it not for the fact that it is hidden behind a pay wall and we can't share the fight video. For us that's the best OPBF and best WBO Asia Pacific title fight of the year, and would probably be #2 on top 3.
#3 - Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) Vs Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10)
May 20th – Ota-City General Gymnasium
The first fight on our list of best 3 is the IBF, WBA and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight title bout between Ryoichi Taguchi and Hekkie Budler from back in May. The bout was a thrilling competitive war between two world class Light Flyweights, with very little to split the fighters. Both men had flaws exposed, both men seemed to have a year or two taken off their careers and as fan we had something very special.
Sadly since this bout, way back in May, bout we've not seen either man return to the ring. Taguchi is supposedly in talks for a Spring 2019 return up at Flyweight, in a WBO world title bout, whilst Budler will be facing off with Taguchi's stablemate Hiroto Kyoguchi on December 31st in Macau.
#2 - Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) vs Hirofumi Mukai (16-5-3, 6)
August 17th - Korakuen Hall
Our second entry is the fantastic Super Flyweight bout between former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi and 2-time world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai. These took didn't take long to get to know each other, and as the bout went on the action got more and more intense, with round 6 being a contender for round of the year. Mukai tried to use his reach early on but got dragged into Yaegashi's type of fight as the contest played out, becoming more and more of a war.
Neither man has fought since this contest, but both are expected to return to the ring in 2019. Yaegashi has got his eye on fighting for a Super Flyweight world title, something that we don't give him much of a chance of winning, whilst Mukai would likely be looking for one more good run on the regional scene.
#1 -Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) Vs Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7)
September 24th - Takeda Teva Ocean Arena
Our Fight of the Year, not just in Japan but globally, is the WBO Flyweight title bout between Sho Kimura and Kosei Tanaka, a fight that we can't talk highly enough. It was two brilliantly matched fighters, with styles and mentalities that gelled perfectly, it had two men willing to put it all on the line, it had a incredible atmosphere, a high work rate from both men, an amazing sequence from both with right hands in round 12 and it had a young fighter chasing history. This really was, for us, the most exciting bout of the year, the best bout of the year, and a bout that had everything we had wished for and more.
If you've not seen this one we suggest putting an hour away and giving it a watch. If you have seen it, you know what to expect and should make the time to rewatch it, as it's simply fantastic. One of the times where a bout didn't just live up to expectations, but thoroughly exceeded them.
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).