Earlier this year we began doing some short historical pieces about individuals from the sport. We intend to continue them later in the year, but for now we have decided to spin that idea off slightly and focus less on an individuals and more on the stories we see from the East. Today we look at an incident from Spring 1987 that featured a then 16 year old youngster and a man preparing to challenge for a world title. The story isn't too well known in the west, but was a hot topic in Japanese boxing circles around the time, and helped increase the aura around one of Japanese boxing's future stars.
Lets begin by taking you all back to early 1987. Bernardo Pinago had vacated the WBA Bantamweight title, to move up in weight, and to fill the vacancy, just weeks later Takuya Muguruma was going to face Panama's Azael Moran.
Muguruma was a fighter from the Osaka Teiken gym, along with a promising young amateur fighter by the name of Joichiro Tatsuyoshi.
At the time Tatsuyoshi was a promising 16 year old amateur with an 11-0 (11) record in the unpaid ranks.
To help prepare for the bout with Muguruma an agreement was made for Moran to spar a Japanese amateur provided by the gym. We tend to see these types of things quite often a few days before a fight.
The amateur the gym sent for Moran to spar with, as we assume you can guess, was Tatsuyoshi.
The plan had been for Moran to use the session to show what he could do for the media in attendance. The two we scheduled to spar for 3 rounds, and it was assumed that Moran, who was highly ranked by the WBA, would have a rather easy time with the Japanese teenage, shake some rust and move on to the bout with Muguruma with no issues.
As it turned out no one told Tatsuyoshi to take it lightly on Moran. Presumeably no one thought they had to, he was inexperienced and still a kid. They would, surely, have assumed Moran, who had close to 20 pro bouts by this point and was about to fight for a world title, wasn't wanting a teenager to hold back in a spar.
What was supposed to be a 3 round spar was cancelled after just a round. Moran was left with a bloodied nose, serious embarrassment and his team were furious. They felt they had been double crossed, though it turned out their man had legitimately been embarrassed by a young, inexperienced amateur.
For Moran the who situation must have been mentally crippling. If he had been beaten up to the point of cancelling a spar with a youngster from the Osaka Teiken gym, what was Muguruma going to be able to do to him in an actual fight?
As it turned out Muguruma would stop Moran in the 5th round of their clash.
As for Tatsuyoshi the whole incident boosted his career massively. He had a huge boost to his reputation, the story of Tatsuyoshi beating up Moran went across Japan like wild fire and he was being dubbed a future world champion. Of course we all know what Tatsuyoshi would later go on to achieve, becoming a star during the 1990's. This however showed his potential very early!
*Note - There are some minor inconsistencies between different paper reports from the time, though they all agree that the two sparred, for a single round in Spring 1987, with Moran cancelling the final 2 rounds of the session due to Tatsuyoshi overwhelming him.
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).