For this weeks “remarkable Round”zoho we go all the way back to 1990 when fans at Korakuen Hall saw a new Japanese Super Bantamweight champion being crowned. The bout came about when Naoto Takahashi vacated the title to begin pursuing bigger and better things, though it seemed that both men carried Takahashi’s mentality into the ring, giving us a forgotten gem from 1990. This bout is not one that many have seen but was a cracker, with round 2, the round we’re sharing, being particularly good.
Manabu Saijo (10-1, 7) vs Susumu Toyosato (9-0, 7)
In one corner was the once beaten southpaw Manabu Saijo who had blitzed many of his early opponents in double quick fashion. From his 11 professional bouts up to this point he had scored 6 stoppages in the first 3 rounds, and seemed to be a whirlwind in the ring, with power in both hands. Despite his destructive power and aggression he wasn’t unbeatable and in 1989 Sung Hwan Moon had beaten him over 8 rounds, though that was at Featherweight and not Saijo’s more natural Super Bantamweight, where he was unbeaten. The 22 year old looked like he had a bright future on the domestic and regional scene and ticked a lot of boxes that fans want to see from a fighter as they come through the ranks. His competition hadn’t been great but he had been doing exactly what was supposed, for the most part, and going through them quickly and destructively.
The other corner housed the unbeaten Susumu Toyosato, a 23 year old who had also left carnage behind him up to this point. From his 9 professional bouts he had racked up 7 stoppages, with 5 coming in the first 4 rounds. Like Saijo his competition up to this point was somewhat limited, and mostly novices, but he had been slicing through them in an exciting, destructive, and thrilling fashion. He had the record of an unbeaten man, the confidence of someone who hadn’t just lost a few months earlier and was the slightly older man, though was certainly not an “old man” by any stretch of the imagination. Notably his longest bout coming into this fight had only gone 6 rounds, something that may well have been on his mind, and helped stir him into going for an early finish, rather than potentially fighting 10 long, draining, punishing rounds.
The fight had started well with an entertaining opening 3 minutes that saw both men set down their stalls as they each found their range and got a read on their opponents. Saiji, sporting the gold trunks, was pressuring from the southpaw stance whilst Toyosato was looking to box and move from the outside. By the end of the round it seemed like Saijo was getting the better of things, but he was certainly not dominating the round.
It is, however, round 2 that we’re focusing on for this “Remarkable Round”, and whilst the first round was good it wasn’t anything like what we saw in the second round.
With Saijo feeling like he had figured out Toyosato in the first round he seemed to look for a faster start here and began to press and pressure his man with more tenacity. About 25 seconds into the round Saijo rocked Toyosato on to the ropes and he then went to town, unloading on Toyosato who was hurt, wobbled and rocked. He reeled from one set of ropes to another. Despite trying to fight back he was hurt a second time as Saijo continued to pile on the pressure.
Somehow Toyosato survived the hellish storm and managed to create space. He backed onto the ropes again but this time he had a plan and caught Saijo as he stormed in. First it was an uppercut, then a huge right hand, sending Saijo down to the canvas. It was a solid knockdown and a huge potential shift in momentum.
Having dropped his man Toyosato began to press and come forward as Saijo looked to recover. Thankfully for Saijo it wasn’t long until he cleared his head, at least enough to fight back, and he went on to rock Toyosato, before being rocked himself as the two men let some heavy leather go.
With the round fading away it seemed the best Saijo could expect was simply to hold his own until the bell. Write the round off due to the knockdown and try to comeback in round 3. With just second left however he scored his own knockdown with a perfect right hook on the chin as the two men each threw massive head shots. Toyosato hit the canvas, though bounced up almost immediately with only seconds of the round left. Before the bout was able to resume the bell came to end the round.
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).