We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect fighters from opposite ends of the scales, going from former Minimumweight and Light Flyweight Hiroki Ioka to former Heavyweight king Ruslan Chagaev.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Japan's Hiroki Ioka was a world class fighter in the late 1980's and most of the 1990's, featuring in 13 world title fights and being a 2-weight Japanese world champion. He was also the final student of the legendary Eddie Townsend, and the uncle of future 4-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka. Ioka made his debut on January 23rd 1986. Another fighter who fought on January 23rd 1986 was the excellent Kongtoranee Payakaroon, who picked up his 6th professional win fighting in Rangsit, Thailand.
2-Although Kongtoranee Payakaroon wasn't as well as his younger brother, who we'll name in a minute, he was an excellent fighter himself and was very unlucky not to take a professional boxing title, to go alongside his Muay Thai achievements. His brother was the amazing Samart Payakaroon, one of the great Muay Thai fighters of all time and excellent boxer himself.
3-Samart Payakaroon's first world title win in professional boxing saw him win the WBC Super Bantamweight title. His reign came to an end in 1987 when he was beaten by Australian fighter Jeff Fenech.
4-Although a massive success as a professional Jeff Fenech was also an excellent amateur boxer and competed at the 1984 Olympics reaching the quarter finals before losing to Steve McCrory.
5-Given that Steve McCrory was part of the US boxing team in 1984 it's needless to add he was part of the US Olmypic team that picked up 9 gold medals, a silver and a bronze. The bronze medal winner was Evander Holyfield, probably the greatest Cruiserweight of all time and one of the all time great Heavyweights.
6-In 2008 Evander Holyfield fought Nikolay Valuev, losing a hotly debated decision to the Russian giant who had previously been beaten by Ruslan Chagaev.
Interestingly, though as an aside, Valuev was supposed to face Ruslan Chagaev in 2009, in what would have been their second bout and would have followed Valuev's win over Holyfield. Despite being ordered the bout never took place, due to a medical issue with Chagaev's blood test showing that he had Hepatits B.
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).