It's often been said that the "little guys can't punch", but the reality is that anyone in the sport can punch. Even those little guys with a low knockout rate can still punch. Today we intend to prove that by showing off one of the best knockouts of 2014. Not only was it a great knockout but it came from a guy who had been seen as a puncher, and it was a genuine beauty.
Suguru Muranaka (20-2-1, 6) vs Yusuke Sakashita(12-4-2, 7)
Although not a big name fighter we were big fans of Suguru Muranaka when he was in the ring. He was a battling little guy with a great work rate, an exciting style, and incredible physical strength. Sadly he was also someone who failed to keep his weight under control and missed weight a frightening number of times, and was almost certainly having the success he had thanks to being a giant weight bully. Later in his career he would move up to Bantamweight and fail to make weight there.
Despite issues with weight Muranaka's best run came at Flyweight, where he had taken the Japanese title in 2013, with a win over Takuya Kogawa, and then defended it with a TKO win against Masayuki Kuroda. By that point it was clear he could fight. He may never have looked like a future world champion but he was a very solid fighter who was riding a 14 fight unbeaten run, going 13-0-1 (4) during that stretch.
In his second defense of the Japanese Flyweight title Muranaka took on the relatively unknown Yusuke Sakashita. Although Sakashita would later win regional honours he had done little to up to this point in his career outside of winning the 2011 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Sadly follow his Rookie of the Year win Sakahsita had suffered a couple of losses in 2012 and his career seemed to be leading no where far when he got the call to face Muranaka.
Despite being the clear under-dog Sakashita had fought well over the first 7 rounds and was running Muranaka really close. He had put in a fantastic effort and was giving the champion genuine fits.
Sadly for Sakashita with just over 20 seconds of round 8 remaining all of his good work was deleted in an instant.
With Sakashita backing off Muranaka feinted with the left, drawing a jab from Sakashita, before launching a massive over-hand right as a counter. The shot landed clean on the jaw of Sakashita, who's head swivelled on his shoulders. He was out in an instant and crashed backwards, on to the canvas, falling in a really nasty way, with the referee instantly waving off the contest.
This was a gorgeous, brutal KO scored by a man who had only scored 6 stoppages in his previous 23 bouts.
Sadly for Muranaka this was the highlight of his reign and he would lose the title 6 months later on the scales. From there on his career never really hit the heights expected of him. In 2017 he did get a world title fight, but lost a very clear decision to Kal Yafai in the UK.
Sakashita on the other hand would rebuild from this loss and later go on to claim, and defend, the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title.
British fans may remember a few years ago a short, relatively unknown but bull strong Japanese fighter called Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) travelling to the UK to challenge the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai. Today we're going to shine a bit of a light on Muranaka as we feature him in the latest 5 midweek facts article.
Of course Muranaka was no world beater, he asked some questions of Yafai, and made the Englishman work hard for 12 rounds but was a clear loser. He left an impression of a proper tough, strong guy who had heart and desire, despite being technically limited. The reality is that he could have been in some amazing bouts had he been disciplined enough to really commit to the sport and being a full professional.
Sadly Muranaka's career is plagues with issues, but he was often regarded highly in Japan and, for most of his career, was a popular fighter with a fun style and an aggressive mentality. He would win the Japanese Flyweight title, beating Takuya Kogawa and would defend it twice, stopping both Masayuki Kuroda and Yusuke Sakashita.
Rather than giving a full career synopsis lets instead look at 5 midweek facts about Suguru Muranaka.
1-Prior to ever fighting for a title of any kind, including Japanese title, Muranaka had become a popular sparring partner for top Japanese fighters. By August 2012 he had sparred with Tomobu Shimizu, Yota Sato, Toshiyuki Igarashi and Akira Yaegashi. He explained to Boxmob that despite Yaegashi being a Minimumweight when they sparred he was the most "scary". Later on he would also spar with Naoya Inoue and Ryoichi Taguchi.
2-Muranaka was stripped of the Japanese Flyweight title when he failed to make weight for a 2015 clash with Tetsuma Hayashi. Although the bout went ahead the title remained vacant as Muranaka defeated Hayashi by decision.
3-The weight troubles of Muranaka didn't started and end with the Hayashi bout and he would also fail to make weight later that same year for a bout with Hideyuki Watanabe, which lead to a lengthy suspension. He also failed to attend a weigh in for a Japanese Bantamweight title bout in 2018, due to being taken to hospital due to his inability to make weight after this he was indefinitely suspended by the JBC.
His first weight weight fail was actually in 2008 when he failed to make weight for a bout against Shigetaka Ikehara, meaning he failed to make weight for 4 bouts during his career! This first failure to make weight actually resulted in him being away from the sport for 2, in which he got married and a had child.
4-A staggering 29 of Muranaka's 30 career bouts took place at the same venue! Those bouts were at Korakuen Hall in Japan. The one exception was his 2018 bout with Kal Yafai, which took place at the Barclaycard Arena, in Birmingham, England! That's almost 97% of his career fought in a single venue, a staggering stat.
5-At the time of his fight with Kal Yafai, in 2018, Muranaka was working for a waterworks company. Other jobs he has spoken about having included working at a Pachinko Parlour in 2014.
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).