Whilst many fighters we feature in this fortnightly series will only be included once, as not many fighters score multiple great knockouts, a small handful will be featured mutliple times. For today's "Reliving the Finish" we think we'll probably be included the most obscure multi-time entrant, but to be fair this was even better than his previous entry, and was far more needed.
Takenori Ohashi (16-5-2, 10) vs Shun Wakabayashi (9-3, 2)
Regular readers of this series will likely remember us featuring Takenori Ohashi and his brutal win over Kosuke Saka for the Japanese Featherweight title. It was a finish that came when Saka mistook the 10 second clacker as the bell to end the round, turned his back and got laid out big time by Ohashi. The finish saw Ohashi claim his biggest win, by fair, as well as picking up the Japanese Featherweight title and ending an impressive run from Saka.
In the eyes of some that knockout for Ohashi proved the old adage of "protect yourself at all times", and it was Saka's huge mistake that Ohashi jumped on. Sadly for Ohashi his title reign was a short one, and he lost the title just 4 months later, when he was battered and beaten up by Taiki Minamoto in his first defense. He had then bounced back with a win over Ruito Saeki before being matched with Shun Wakabayashi.
Before we talk about Wakabayashi we just want to quickly explain who Ohashi was as a fighter. He was crude, slow, unpolished, defensively naive, but boy could he punch, and his record, showing just 10 stoppages in 23 bouts, is not indicative of his power. Instead it was a sign that he struggled to get to his opponents, who were often happy to pick him off and use their speed, or get away and survive. What he hit he hurt, and when he landed clean he tended to see off opponents.
The then 28 year old Wakabayashi had once been 4-3 (1) as a professional before rebuilding with 5 straight wins, including minor upsets over Taichi Ueno and Chinlei Lin, as well as a more notable upset win over Xian Qian Wei. He wasn't much of a name but was in good form and had been impressive, winning not just as home but also picking up two wins on Chinese soil.
Wakabayashi wasn't a puncher. Not by any stretch. He was however a very good boxer-mover, who was light on his feet, used the ring, and boxed well at range. He seemed to have the momentum behind him and the skills needed to take a win over the slower Ohashi. Technically he was likely seen as the under-dog, against a former Japanese champion no less, but plenty would have been picking him against the very slow Ohashi.
Those who picked Wakabayashi would have been very pleased by what they saw in the first 6 rounds as he out sped, out boxed and out manoeuvred Ohashi. The smart movement and simple, but effective, boxing of Wakabayashi seemed to be taking him to a clear decision win. He was making it look easy.
That was until round 7, when we got a sign of just how devastating Ohashi's power really is.
Ohashi managed to land a big right hand over the top, a shot that may have shaken Wakabayashi, though he took it well and didn't show any signs of being hurt. Just moments later however a shorter, stiffer counter right stiffened Wakabayashi's legs. The short right was immediately followed by a brutal left uppercut which instantly turned out the lights on Wakabayashi, who crashed to the canvas.
This was a brutal finish by Ohashi, who had to have been behind before pulling out one of the best KO's we saw in a Japanese ring in 2018.
Whilst maybe not quite as good as Ohashi's brutal free shot finish on Saka this was still something to behold. A brilliant combination and a truly gorgeous finish by a true Japanese domestic level puncher.
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).