Back in the 1990's the Japanese Super Featherweight scene was legitimately red hot. The country had fighters like Takanori Hatakeyama, Koji Arisawa, Yamato Mitani, Ryuhei Sugita and Kengo Nagashima all making waves. They also had the popular and heavy handed Yuji Watanabe (25-5-1, 23), ripping through the scene.
Although not the most successful of the Japanese fighters from the era Watanabe was one of the most exciting, and his bouts rarely went the distance. In fact from his 31 professional bouts 20 ended in the first 3 rounds. He was exciting, popular and a fighter well worth tracking down footage of, as his bouts were often full of bombs from the off.
Today we're not here to wax lyrical about how exciting Watanabe was, but instead bring you 5 Midweek Facts about Yuji Watanabe!
1-Prior to turning professional Watanabe had been a pretty impressive amateur, running up a record of 45-3 (34) in the unpaid ranks and won the Lightweight title at the 43rd National Sports Festival.
2-Due to his power and style Watanabe was dubbed the "Nerima no Taison", essentially the "Tyson of Nerima". Tyson after Mike Tyson and Nerima after the place he was born, Nerima ward.
3-After making his debut in 1990 Watanabe's stop or be stopped attitude meant none of his first 16 bouts went the distance! That included wins over the Japanese title against Takeyuki Akagi, and a defense against Toshikazu Suzuki, as well as a win over former world champion Steve Cruz. Sadly it also included losses to Genero Hernandez and Marcus Guevara. Sadly the attitude continued through his career and he would only go the scheduled distance twice. The first of those was his unanimous decision win over Cris Saguid and the second was his 2000 draw with Seung Ho Yuh.
It's also worth noting that Yuh stopped Watanabe in a rematch 9 months later, to give Watanabe his final defeat. Immediately after that bout Watanabe announced his retirement.
4-Watanabe's nephew is promising Japanese Super Flyweight Suzumi Takayama, who won the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title in his third professional bout.
5-Despite having retired from in ring participation almost 20 years ago Watanabe is still involved in boxing. The former fighter is now a trainer at the Saida Boxing Gym, the same gym that managed his career when he was an active fighter.
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).