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The ten Flyweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

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The ten Flyweight title fights you must see in your lifetime Empty The ten Flyweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 Wed 24 Oct 2012, 10:48 pm

Good evening, fellas.

We've had the Light-Heavyweights and the Welters - now I've decided that it's the turn of the Flyweights in this series giving the run down of the ten title fights you must see in your lifetime, per division, through my eyes. This edition of the series has been a while in the making - let me explain why!

I knew from the off that compiling this list would be a wee bit more difficult than the others I've done; the Flyweights have seldom got the coverage of their bigger counterparts from the more glamourous divisions, and as such there are fewer 112 lb title fights readily available on YouTube (something I try to ensure for all fights I incude, if anyone who hasn't seen them wants to check them out and draw their own conclusions from them). Moreover, as one of the historically weaker weight classes in terms of star performers, great fights come at a slightly lesser rate down at Flyweight as they might do elsewhere.

I had a nailed-on five or six to start with, the inclusions of which would require little thought. However, as time wore on, I found myself crossing off more and more fights from my list of 'possibles'. There were plenty of exemplary performances from men such as Sot Chitalada and Miguel Canto, but not fights that you could really call 'great.' I was increasingly worried that I was going to get stuck on seven or eight.

And so, as a result of all this, I'm indebted to captain carrantuohil, who was generous enough to make two or three excellent suggestions to me. Two fights on this list - numbers five and six - came from the captain, and I had seen neither of them before he kindly passed them on as suggestions. Without these two, I'd still be scratching my head and trying to complete the article now, so anyone who enjoys this write up should extend their thanks to the captain, too, just as I am now. Ta very much, cap!

Anyway, on we go. As ever, I've included a 'skinny' of the fight, telling how it unfolded, as well as offering my reasons not only for selecting the fight, but also for why I've placed it where it is in the list. All aspects - quality of the action, historical significance to the division, whether or not it represented the peak of a fighter's career etc - were considered, and I'd love to get your thoughts on it.

Anyway, on we go.

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# 10 - Frank Cedeno W TKO 6 Charlie Magri, WBC title, 1983

The skinny: In September of 1983, the colourful Charlie Magri was Britain's last remaining world champion, with his tenure as WBC Flyweight king falling between the championship reigns of John Conteh and Alan Minter in the late seventies, and Lloyd Honeyghan and Dennis Andries in the mid eighties. And so when he risked his title against the equally entertaining Filipino Frank Cedeno in London, the pressure was on. Magri had been a brilliant amateur, his unpaid career yielding three ABA titles, but his downfall in the professional ranks was that he tended to easily forget his pure boxing skills which gave him that amateur success, instead turning to face-first brawling to entertain the crowd.

He must surely have regretted giving in to that temptation here. He was in control for the first two rounds, lighter on his feet of the pair and scoring frequently with his right, but already there were signs that his opponent was not at all intimidated by the partizan crowd - twice he menacingly hit while the referee broke them, a signal of his intentions. Cedeno tried his hand boxing at range early in the third, but it didn't last, the two of them eventually falling in to the pocket and swinging vicious shots to the body. The key moment came in the fourth round. As Magri continued to charge him, the Filipino challenger fired off some nice straight shots through the gap between the champion's gloves, and then threw the left hand with all his might, almost removing Magri's gum shield from his mouth. Clearly hurt, Magri should have held, spoiled and tried to box his way out of trouble, which he was capable of doing. Instead, he tried to fight fire with fire and paid a heavy price, taking severe punishment on the ropes at the end of what had been a frantic round.

Both men pushed for the finish in the fifth; now it was Magri's turn to remove Cedeno's gum shield, this time with a big right uppercut, but almost instantly he walked on to a couple of scorching left hooks himself, making his knees dip momentarily. The pace was telling on the champion, and in the sixth, the end came. Marching forward in impotent straight lines, he took a series of straight lefts from the southpaw Cedeno, before a quick right hook, left hook combination sent his legs in to spasm. Again deciding to fight rather than look to survive, he swung gamely but left himself open for a left uppercut, which put him to the floor. He beat the count, but once more continued to brawl on the challenger's terms, being forced to the ropes where he has to take another count. He laboured to his feet again, and finally realised that he needed to buy himself some time - but it was too late in the day. Cedeno clubbed him to the side of his now covered head, Magri crumpled to the canvas for a third time and, although he was brave and managed to rise once more, the referee called a halt to the action, leaving Britain without a world champion.

Why it's here: Magri, wrote Gilbert Odd in 1990, "can claim to have rescued the British Flyweight division from extinction." In the mid to late seventies, the division had been close to dormant on these shores, and there had even been proposals for its abolition. Magri, with his heavy punching but also his vulnerability which made him such an exciting fighter, helped to breathe life in to the weight class, and subsequently the UK went on to see the likes of Duke McKenzie and Dave McAuley lift versions of the 112 lb weight class title. As an unsung hero of British boxing in that respect, Magri deserves a moment in the sun, even if this fight did end in defeat. Moreover, of course, this was simply just an entertaining fight. Plenty of action crammed in to its half a dozen stanzas, and an example of how even the most astute of amateurs can forget and neglect those smooth, at range skills when the opportunity to brawl presents itself.



# 9 - Santos Laciar W PTS 15 Hilario Zapata, WBA title, 1984

The skinny: In the early to mid eighties, while the WBC Flyweight belt was being passed around like a hot potato (at one stage, it changed hands in seven consecutive fights), the WBA could relax in the knowledge that their version of the crown was in the hands of a reliable, long-serving champion. This was to be the Argentine Santos Laciar's eighth defence of his belt, against the classy Panamanian Hilario Zapata, already a double world champion at Light-Flyweight. This was to be a real clash of styles - the champion's crouching, pressure attack against the cool, upright and rangy style of the challenger. And so it went, they virtually cancelled each other out for the whole fifteen rounds.

The first two rounds were surely split, but Zapata was the first to show some real signs of quality, feinting beautifully before making space to fire of a lovely straight right, which rocked the bobbing and weaving head of the champion back. The bout continued to explode in to life in the fourth; rolling well with most of the shots coming his way, Laciar, short even for a Flyweight, crept underneath Zapata's jab and connected with two hard rights, clearly stunning the Panamanian challenger, before Zapata found the target himself with two hard left crosses from his southpaw stance. Zapata managed to back Laciar up on the ropes a couple of times in the eighth round, but curiously didn't let the punches fly, and himself nearly came unstuck when he had to take a clean shot to the head as he lost concentration and looked to the referee during the break from a clinch.

The pattern was set from there on; in some rounds, Zapata was in control with his cultured jab and ability to use every inch of the ring. In others, Laciar's constant head and body movement forced the opening for him to take over with lunging hooks to both head and body. Zapata seemed to have control as the fight wore on, but the champion rallied brilliantly to take the twelfth and thirteenth rounds, chasing his man down and landing energy-sapping body shots. There was little to pick between them from there, although Zapata could still be forgiven for thinking he'd done enough, I believe (I had him up, 143-142). As it turns out, however, the judges thought otherwise, awarding a tight but unanimous decision to Laciar, in front of his frenzied Buenos Airies fans.

Why it's here: In the early to mid eighties, the looming shadows of the retired Carlos Monzon and the waning Roberto Duran still hung heavily over Argentinean and Panamanian boxing respectively. This fight, a genuinely interesting one between two extremely fine champions, offered a chance to demonstrate that there was more to boxing in their countries than just that. Laciar, possibly and underrated and undervalued operator, may just have scored his finest ever victory in this fight, all things considered, and for Zapata the fight no doubt put him in good stead for his next Flyweight title crack one year later - that time, he won.



# 8 - Fidel Bassa Drew PTS 15 Hilario Zapata, WBA title, 1987

The skinny: In the eighties, a great divide existed between the WBC and WBA Flyweight titles existed, with the former being dominated by the Oriental countries (men from the Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Korea taking ownership of it at some stage), with the latter being the sole possession of Latin America. Santos Laciar of Argentina, Juan Herrera of Mexico and Hilario Zapata of Panama had all held the belt, and so 1987 saw Zapata trying to regain his old title against the man who'd dethroned him six months earlier, another value for money Latin fighter - Fidel Bassa of Colombia.

Bassa, a short and explosive Flyweight with a sharp hook, was prone to slow starting and was vulnerable to being floored early on, and so it came as little surprise when, in the first round of this rematch, he was caught with a booming left hand as he tried to pull back from the jab which went before, sending him to the deck with 30 seconds left of the round. As he always did, he got up, but Zapata, as he had a habit of doing, decided not to push for a finish for whatever reason. For the rest of the early stages, the taller, more methodical challenger was able to contain Bassa with stinging jabs and nice footwork, and it wasn't until the fifth round that the Colombian managed to get a real foothold in the fight, clipping Zapata with two quick rights to the body and a left to the head, making the Panamanian's knees dip for a second.

Buoyed by that confidence booster, Bassa began to move and roll well with most of the fire coming his way, navigating the sometimes ponderous probing on Zapata and getting close enough to work the body. His low blows, a common trait amongst men with an engine like his, cost the champion a point in the eighth round, but roared back to produce his best work in the tenth, eleventh and the twelfth. In particular, the eleventh round was an excellent one for Bassa, trapping his opponent on the ropes with a nice one-two and forcing him to desperately hold for survival and turning his legs to jelly once more with a terrific right uppercut. Zapata responded in kind in the thirteenth, however, establishing his jab once more, countering a wild Bassa swing with a crisp right hand and a clean left hook near the bell. He was, admittedly, lucky to avoid a point deduction for what seemed to be a blatant headbutt, but continued his fine work in the fourteenth, peppering the champion with the jab and landing another nice left as he cleverly bounced from the ropes. Bassa's pressure took the fifteenth, and then there came the anxious wait for the scores. For me, Zapata did just about enough (143-141). One official judge agreed. However, one plumped for Bassa, with another calling the fight dead even. A fine attempt to regain his title from Zapata had ended in a draw.

Why it's here: It can be highly annoying to see a fighter who, from a technical point of view, has the beating of his opponent, but just doesn't press home the advantage, and coasts when he should be pushing. Having seen a fair bit of Hilario Zapata, I believe he's a fighter who falls in to this category. Much like his aforementioned fight with Santos Laciar, in this bout Zapata had the wood on his opponent in terms of style and ability, but his reluctance to throw leather (the first, twelfth and fifteenth rounds here being prime examples) when he needed to most cost him one or two decisions which could have elevated him from being an all-time good to an all-time great. As for Bassa, well, this fight once again demonstrated the qualities which made him one of the great value for money fighters of his time; an indomitable will to win, pressure, pressure, pressure and, of course, that early vulnerability which keeps any spectator on the edge of their seat. All round, a fine world title fight.



# 7 - Nonito Donaire W KO 5 Vic Darchinyan, IBF title, 2007

The skinny: In July 2007, Vic Darchinyan looked set for greatness. Boasting an unbeaten 28-0 record, with 22 of those victories inside schedule, he'd already made six impressive defences of his IBF Flyweight crown and, better still, America was interested in Armenian-Australian too, with his four previous victories having taken place on USA soil. One of his victims in that run had been Glenn Donaire, which gave this particular contest a little bit of extra spice - this time, he'd be defending against Glenn's brother, Nonito.

There was precious little in Donaire's record to suggest that he could upset Darchinyan, but straight away the early signs of an upset were evident after the first bell rang. Darchinyan, his lead right hand held way out in front of him and probing in a circular motion as it always did, must have been alarmed to see how light on his feat his Filipino-American opponent was; around half a dozen times in the first round alone, Donaire was able to slide in to the pocket, land a blisteringly quick right hand lead and then dart back out of range, all before the champion could so much as paw out a jab to prevent it. It must have been frustrating for the champion to see a man stood in front of him with his left held low, and also with that taboo habit of leaning back from punches rather than looking to block and move to the side of them, and yet be totally unable to land cleanly on him. When he finally did connect with a solid left at the midway stage of the second round, that very same punch was returned to him with interest a split second later, and as the bell for the end of the round sounded the champion gave a furtive glance to his tormentor.

Content to let Darchinyan do the chasing early on, Donaire, visibly growing in confidence, began to carry the fight in the third and fourth rounds, bringing in a superb body attack for the first time and buckling Darchinyan's knees with two sharp left hooks as well. Knowing that he was in deep waters, Darchinyan came out aggressively for the fifth, and at the mid way point of the round seemed to have the slippery challenger where he wanted him, as he forced him to the corner. However, after throwing a pawing jab, Donaire fired off a startlingly quick left hook, which exploded with devastating effect on the champion's jaw. He fell heavily to the floor and, despite attempting to rise, had nothing left to give, his legs betraying him once more as he fell to the ropes at the other side of the ring, forcing the referee to wave the fight off. Donaire had pulled a dramatic upset, and with a single left hook which was good enough to earn Ring Magazine's 'Knockout of the Year' award for 2007, no less.

Why it's here: Truth be told, this wasn't a great 'fight' in the conventional sense. It was too one-sided for that. However, if you want to see a great, great talent announced on the world stage, then this bout is essential viewing. Donaire's performance must surely be one of the greatest of the past decade, and he's gone from strength to strength since, scooping up additional world titles at Super-Flyweight, Bantamweight and Super-Bantamweight, giving him a spot near the top of the pound for pound rankings which many thought would have belonged to Darchinyan in recent years. A simply sensational performance.



# 6 - Walter McGowan W PTS 15 Salvatore Burruni, WBC and lineal titles, 1966

The skinny: Scotland have produced their fair share of top class Flyweights, with the exploits of Benny Lynch and Jackie Paterson going down in fistic folklore on these shores. In the sixties, it was another Scotsman, Walter McGowan, who represented the best chance of 112 lb glory for his country. When he faced off against the Italian Salvatore Burruni for the title in front of a Wembley audience in 1966, he had his work cut out. The rugged Italian had outscored him in a European title fight previously, and McGowan was only a few months removed from a poor run in 1965 which had seen him go three fights without victory, including two defeats inside schedule. His chin wasn't the problem but, like his Heavyweight contemporary Henry Cooper, his eyebrows were - he was prone to cuts, which had been a thorn in his side for much of his career and would be again.

The Scot, a with his classic style of boxing, made a bright start, keeping the forward march of the swarming Italian in check with nice jabs and deft footwork. An edge of frustration already seemed to be creeping in to Burruni's work as early as the second round, during which he twice swung and missed so wildly that he almost turned himself 180 degrees. Each time the champion pressed forward in the early stages, the challenger always seemed half a step out of range. It wasn't until the fourth round that Burruni had his first real success, landing hard rights to the head, followed by a left soon after. McGowan, perhaps surprisingly, began to take a few chances after that point, leaving himself open when forcing the attack, but his footwork still allowed him to dart back out of harm's way when the return fire came and, after an excellent eighth round in which he boxed his opponent all over the ring, he appeared to be in total control.

In the ninth, however, fencing jabs were swapped for aggressive hooks by both men, with Burruni getting the better of it, catching the Scot coming in with successive lefts. Perhaps weary of the tough rounds which lay ahead, McGowan was lucky to avoid sanction for a cynical shot thrown after the bell, but bounced back well to do the lion's share of the good work in rounds ten and eleven. But in the twelfth, the moment everyone feared finally arrived - McGowan got cut, and badly, on the right eyebrow. It was a left hook that did the damage, and Burruni won the thirteenth round too using that same punch, seemingly spurred on by the sight of McGowan's blood. he fourteenth round went at a blistering pace. Fearing that another cuts stoppage was about to blot his copy book, McGowan jabbed and moved whenever possible, doing the cleaner work. Perhaps sensing that time was running out, Burruni was warned for cynically rubbing his head in to the wound in a clinch, but at the end of the fourteenth round, despite the cut, McGowan knew that all he had to do was see out the round to be crowned as the champion. Burruni spent that final round probing desperately for an opening, but McGowan was having none of it, refusing to be drawn in and boxing in his usual cool manner until the final bell. The referee raised his hand, and Scotland had another Flyweight champion.

Why it's here: This was a classic styles match up, the boxer against the swarmer. And this time, it was the more cultured work of the boxer which took the spoils. McGowan's performance was excellent, but so too was Burruni's in defeat, and for the Scot, this was a rare delight - a fight in which he survived a nasty cut, rather than being beaten by one. Those weak eyebrows would cost McGowan his belt in his first defence against the all-action Chartchai Chionoi, a fight in which he was leading before the stoppage, but on this night Wembley - and the WBC Flyweight title - belonged to McGowan.



# 5 - Pone Kingpetch W PTS 15 Mashiko 'Fighting' Harada, World title, 1963

The skinny: Mashiko 'Fighting' Harada is best remembered as the man who became the first to defeat the great Brazilian Eder Jofre, taking Jofre's Bantamweight title in 1965. But he'd been an excellent world champion even before that, and indeed this fight saw him rematching the man from whom he'd won the Flyweight crown, the Thai Pone Kingpetch. It had been only three months since Harada had stopped Kingpetch in Tokyo, but the rematch was to take place in Bangkok, in front of a largely pro-Kingpetch audience. Kingpetch had already created history by becoming Thailand's first ever world champion, but on this night he was chasing another notable 'first', as victory would make him the first man to regain the world Flyweight championship.

Harada was an incredibly busy fighter with a towering work rate, and it showed straight from the off. There was no 'feeling out' process in the early rounds. Doubling his jab up as he advanced, Harada couldn't miss with his big right hand over the top and, although Kingpetch was happy to stand and trade with him, any punch he landed seemed to result in two of the same from the Japanese. Kingpetch got off the mark in the third, intelligently rolling with many of Harada's punches on the ropes and countering well, but as the fight wore on the Thai found himself backed up to the corners and ropes with alarming frequency, as Harada punished the body with short hooks inside. At the end of the eighth, Kingpetch was half-punched, half-bundled to the floor and still appeared groggy in the ninth, during which the champion pushed for the finish, but couldn't quite find the telling blow.

The effort he put in to finishing his man in that round, without success, seemed to take something from Harada. All of a sudden, it was Kingpetch who was in control, and rounds ten to thirteen were his best of the fight. Working behind a neat and accurate jab, Harada just couldn't get to him, and at one point in the twelfth the champion was made to miss with four successive left hooks by being beautifully countered. He rallied well to arguably edge the fourteenth, however, and produced a champion's effort in the last round, going after the body and giving Kingpetch absolutely no room to work. At the bell, the two warmly embraced, and Harada must have been confident that he'd done enough to maintain his champion status - I scored the fight 145-142 in his favour. However, much to the delight of the Bangkok crowed, Kingpetch was announced as the winner via a majority decision, and had become the first man to regain the Flyweight championship.

Why it's here: If you can find it within yourself to ignore the slightly dubious scoring of this fight and consider purely what happened between the ropes, this was quite simply just a very enjoyable championship fight to watch. Moreover, when you consider the career Harada had, who he beat and his crowd-pleasing style, I think it's fair to say that he is, in some quarters, an underrated operator. He must surely be amongst the very, very finest fighters ever to emerge from Asia - it could be argued, in fact, that he's second only to a certain Mr. Pacquiao. On the other side of the coin, not only was this an entertaining scrap, but it was also a history-making one, with Kingpetch becoming the first man to regain the 112 lb championship.



# 4 - Chartchai Chionoi W TKO 13 Efren Torres, WBC and lineal titles, 1968

The skinny: Efren Torres of Mexico had lost a disputed decision to WBA Flyweight champion Horacio Accavallo in December 1966 in Buenos Aires, in what many considered to be a hometown gift for the Accavallo. And so when the chance came to wrestle the WBC and lineal titles away from the Thai Chartchai Chionoi, you know he was going to want it, and want it badly. From the off in this fight, it became clear that Torres was certainly the 'technician' of this pair. Chionoi, making the third defence of his title, started the fight with little else on his mind other than knocking Torres senseless, opening the action with a wild right hook which missed by the proverbial country mile. Despite that unsteady first round, he proved that their was some craft to his work in the second; he decided to stand off, tempting Torres the swat first. The Mexican obliged, and instantly found himself on the end of a beautiful counter right hand, putting him to the deck. After rising, most would have backed Torres to box his way out of trouble, but instead he chose to stand toe to toe with a snarling Chionoi for the rest of the round, just about surviving.

He got back to his boxing in the third, though, before forcing Chionoi's knees to dip in the fourth with yet another right hand, and this time it was the champion who had to spoil desperately until the bell. The sixth round, as they say, could have taken place in a phone booth. It featured some scary inside exchanges, but once again it was Chionoi who was taking the more severe punishment, being stunned badly with a left just before the bell. As the bell sounded, the Thai was warned, not for the first time, for hitting low. And each time the referee called him up on this, he continued to reply with the same gesture - a respectful bow. He tottered dangerously close to defeat in the seventh, as a barrage from Torres had him staggering back to the ropes, but somehow remained upright. Torres, boxing brilliantly, must have wondered how he could get his man out of there, or if indeed he could at all.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the champion pulled out a superb round in the ninth, dominating with his jab - a rare thing for him - and cutting Torres above the left eye as he bounced off the ropes and spun his way out of what seemed like a trap. Knowing that the cut was a bad one, Torres tried to keep the fight at range in the tenth, but again it was Chionoi winning the battle of the jabs and slowly working his way in to the fight. The sight of Torres dabbing the blood away from his eye obviously must have convinced Chionoi that he was there for the taking. How wrong he was. The champion rushed the challenger in the eleventh, but walked straight on to a devastating series of booming rights over the top of his guard. Twice the champion was sent spinning back to separate corners, and he spent most of the round under siege. The referee seemed perilously close to stopping the contest, but once again, Chionoi somehow held on. It proved to be Torres' last chance. Towards the end of the twelfth, a round he'd been dominating up to that point, he was forced to take two blistering hooks to the head on the ropes, the second of which forced a spurt of blood to fly from his cut, and in the thirteenth round, his face by now a mask of red, he was called over to the ringside doctor. Without hesitation, the fight was called off, with Torres' dreams being cruelly snatched away in a fight he was clearly winning. Almost as a sign of his sympathy, the victorious Chionoi fell to the Mexican's knees and held on to his legs tightly - he knew just how close he'd come to losing his crown.

Why it's here: One of the great things about digging for great Flyweight fights has been discovering the odd fighter here and there who you didn't really know of properly, but who turns out to be great viewing. Chartchai Chionoi has certainly been that fighter in this case. Although he was largely outboxed, Chionoi must surely belong to that special group of fighters who just find a way to win when not at their best, even if there is some good fortune involved. But this fight shows both the good of boxing and, with Torres' heartbreaking stoppage, the bad side, too.



# 3 - Yuri Arbachakov W KO 8 Muangchai Kittikasem, WBC title, 1992

The skinny: Born in Armenia but having relocated to Japan (where he thought his career would progress quicker due to the Orient's interest in the lower weight classes), Yuri Arbachakov had won 165 out of 186 amateur contests, had picked up world and European titles in his unpaid career and, in the professional ranks, had taken the Japanese Flyweight title in his seventh paid outing. And so by 1992, the only ambition left was to be a world champion. That opportunity presented itself when he boxed Muangchai Kittikasem, who had proved his right to wear the famous green belt in the furnace of two inside-schedule wins against the outstanding Sot Chitalada, as well as a dramatic, last-minute stoppage of Jung Koo-Chang, a brilliant Light-Flyweight champion previously.

But he was beatable, particularly for a technician as smooth as Arbachakov, who looked a million dollars in the first round as he peppered his opponent with the jab, showing the classy head movement to avoid punishment which had made him such a successful amateur. Arbachakov was the one with the quicker hands, too, and he demonstrated that at the bell to end the round, firing off a beautiful right hand over the guard which floored Kittikasem, although the bell had rung a split second before it landed. The second round was all Arbachakov's, too, and many would have been forgiven that the result was a forgone conclusion at that stage. But naturally, Kittikasem hadn't planned on relinquishing his title readily.

In the third, after being pinned down early by jabs, he found a perfect, Joe Louis-esque one-two, sending Arbachakov to the canvas. The challenger's response was fantastic, striking right back with a great counter-left hand after making Kittikasem stretch for him. Both had a knockout on their mind now, but Arbachakov finished the round stronger, a vicious uppercut sending Kittkasem staggering towards the ropes. Kittikasem showed that there was more to him than simply blood and guts, impressing in the fifth with some excellent crouching defensive work to force the errors and openings from the challenger, and when he out-jabbed Arbachakov in the sixth, he must have been optimistic about keeping his champion status by the end of twelve rounds.

Instead, Arbachakov reeled off a gorgeous four punch combination in the seventh, stopping the champion in his tracks before safely jabbing his way through the rest of the round. The end came, abruptly, in the eighth. Light and bouncing on his feet, Arbachakov sidestepped and parried most of what Kittkasem had to offer, and the champion seemed to be frustrated by this; when Arbachakov retreated to the ropes and bounced off them, Kittikasem lunged clumsily after him and, when in the process of throwing his own right hand, walked on to a perfectly-timed, scorching counter-right of Arbachakov's. The fight was over as soon as that shot landed, the referee finishing the ten count which Kittkasem never had any chance of beating.

Why it's here: As I mentioned in the Welterweight article of this series, as a boxing fan sometimes you just want to see the so-called 'shoot out.' Arbachakov and Kittkasem produced this, but there was more to it than that. Some of the wonderful skills which made Arbachakov such a great amateur (and a damn fine Flyweight champion, eventually making nine successful title defences) and, of course, the champion's heart from Kittikasem who, even though overmatch in many respects, made the younger man work for his title, harder than many people anticipated he'd have to work. Ultimately, the fight itself was simply too good to ignore.



# 2 - Masao Ohba W TKO 12 Chartchai Chionoi, WBA title, 1973

The skinny: It's one of the oldest stories / clichés in boxing - the former champion, once a top class fighter, who is now years passed their best, seemingly on the scrap heap and ready to be served up as cannon fodder for the next big star who is one their way to take their place at the top, producing one last great hurrah, an unexpected performance which hints that maybe, just maybe, they have a few more glory days ahead of them yet. For Chartchai Chionoi, this was it, and it represented his rebirth as a fighter, even though he was defeated. Already twice a world champion, the Thai had been replaced as the biggest and best name in the Flyweight division by 1973 by Masao Ohba of Japan, the WBA champion, and it was against Ohba that Chionoi attempted to emulate another Thai, Pone Kingpetch, in becoming a three-time Flyweight king.

Considering that Ohba had been the big betting favourite, the first round must have scared the life out of him, and many of his followers. Showing little respect for the threat of Chionoi's power, he was wide open and staggered by one of the very first punches of the right, an over hand right, and was then knocked down by another right. He beat the count and groggily held on to survive until the bell, but had to take serious punishment on the ropes in doing so. He responded well by holding the centre of the ring with crisp jabs and counter rights, but was back under the cosh again in the third as Chionoi forced him to lose balance twice with a couple of thunderous right hands. The champion stuck to his boxing whenever possible after that, closing Chionoi's left eye with double and triple jabs and using his superior footwork to evade the sometimes crude attacks coming his way, but by the seventh round Ohba himself was beginning to mark up badly, unable to stem the flow of clubbing left hooks facing him.

Proving he had a champion's heart to go with his obvious skills, Ohba produced a wonderful effort in the eighth, staggering his opponent all over the ring and coming desperately close to forcing a stoppage, however just two rounds later there was evidence to suggest that producing that effort had left him drained for the home straight - Chionoi backed him to the ropes and went to work on the body with sickening hooks inside. The eleventh was a desperate battle of will, both men swinging so wildly that they almost turned full circle. And then came the twelfth, in which Ohba hinted at the potential which many thought would go on to make him one of the very greatest Flyweights of all time. He seized the initiative almost as soon as he had risen from his stool, twice making headway with stinging three-hook combinations. Chionoi, the toughest of Flyweight tough men, showed he had some defiance left in him yet, responding in kind and pushing his man back again. However, with a minute of the round left, Ohba trapped him on the ropes, where the exhausted challenger was half-punched, half-pushed to the floor.

As ever, he was brave, rising to beat the count, but survival instincts weren't Chionoi's USP; he attempted to brawl his way out of trouble, leaving himself open for another damaging flurry from the champion which sent him back to the deck. This time, the referee looked long and hard before letting him continue, but let him continue he did. However, there were to be no further miracles this time. A huge left hook rocked his head in all directions, sending him spinning back to the corner. Ohba, sensing blood, literally ran after him, and sent down another onslaught from which there was no escape. With just a single second left in the round, the referee threw his arms around the battered and bruised Chionoi to signal the end. For Chionoi, the fight represented one of the great losing efforts. For Ohba, it represented the summit of his career, but a sadly tragic one, too - just three weeks later, he was killed in a car accident, aged just twenty-three.

Why it's here: It is unfortunate for Masao Ohba's legacy that, while us boxing fans often ponder what might have been for the likes of Salvador Sanchez, Pancho Villa and Edwin Valero had their lives not ended so prematurely, he is often forgotten, despite the fact that, at the time of his death, he looked as if he may well have become one of the greatest Flyweights of all time. As such, this fight combines the beautiful aspects of boxing (grit, determination, action and the like) with the tragedy which, sadly, is often looming over the sport. That's not even to mention that the fight itself was absolutely brilliant. Give and take all the way, I had it dead even going in to that twelfth round, and there can be little doubt that Ohba's WBA belt was in the balance. Though his life was tragically cut short, Ohba left the sport on the back of his signature performance, while Chionoi's sheer guts and never say die attitude, alluded to earlier, were on display in all their glory. This is what a great title fight should look like.



# 1 - Fidel Bassa W TKO 13 Dave McAuley, WBA title, 1987

The skinny: With Barry McGuigan's star waning, Irish boxing needed a new hero in 1987. Step forward Dave 'Boy' McAuley. The slender, beanpole Flyweight had done little by that year to suggest that he could even partially fill the void left by the 'Clones Cyclone', but the thirteen rounds he shared in this heroic attempt to wrestle the WBA Flyweight belt away from the Colombian Fidel Bassa in this fight instantly etched him in to Irish boxing folklore.

Bassa, the diminutive pressure fighter who had dethroned Panamanian great Hilario Zapata in his previous fight, was expected by most to dispose of his challenger with something to spare, and indeed the opening round of the fight, staged in Belfast's hugely atmospheric Kings Hall, suggested that he'd do exactly that. After some early jostling for position, McAuley pawed out a lazy jab which Bassa, as quickly as a flash, fired a hard right over the top of. It connected and down went the challenger, stunning the Hall and the legions of fans within it in to near silence. McAuley rose gamely, but it was clear that he didn't have full control of his legs and, as a result, he spent the whole of the remainder of the round under siege, absorbing punishing blows to both head and body. Though he survived the round, he did so with his legs still looking wobbly and a bad cut over his right eye. Commentator Harry Carpenter's view of the opening stanza? "Dramatically disappointing." Most would have agreed.

"Dramatic" would indeed become a byword for this fight, but for totally different reasons. There seemed little chance that McAuley could recover, but he most certainly did. The pair slugged it out in a high-octane second round, before the Irishman made some serious inroads in the third, using his height and reach to score with classy counter-jabs, as well as gradually bringing in his best shot, the left hook. As the end of the round neared, Bassa went down despite McAuley's wild lunge appearing to have missed him. The referee called it, but whatever the truth, the champion wasn't comfortable. He was put down legitimately again soon afterwards by a short hook inside (the referee, perplexingly, didn't call this one) and finished the round with a cynical head butt - perhaps a sign of his frustration, and surprise, at McAuley's revival.

McAuley, growing in confidence, was taking chances when necessary, but mostly was content to score with his rangier shots and brilliant left hook at distance. However, Bassa's bobbing and weaving soon had him making up the ground, and the two of them exchanged some devastating hooks to the body in a series of utterly thrilling exchanges. Throughout the seventh and eighth, Bassa seemed to have the upper hand, but the challenger produced a superb effort in the ninth. As Bassa stalked him to the ropes, he fired out another left hook from the blue, dropping the champion heavily. As the action resumed, McAuley turned the Colombian's legs to jelly with a huge right, before Bassa replied with an even better left. The crowd, by now, were in a frenzy, but the atmosphere hit new heights when their hero produced another whipping right hand up close to put Bassa over again. Despite three knockdowns in a round constituting an automatic stoppage, Bassa did not go in to his shell, instead ending the round with two big hooks of this own. "You've never seen a fight like it in your life!" exclaimed Carpenter as the bell to end the round sounded. And who could disagree?

The tenth was fought at a terrifying pace, both men looking for the finish, while McAuley was able to do enough work at range in the eleventh to extend what must surely have been a lead at that point, even if it was only a small one. However, Bassa was showing the drive and stamina which would eventually make him such a fine champion. He was still carrying the fight to the challenger hard and fast in the twelfth, and landing a chilling, looping right hand to a backed up McAuley which surely would have sent most other Flyweights down for the full ten count.

When Bassa's legs went from under him at the start of the thirteenth, McAuley must have been praying that this was a sign of tiredness. Sadly, it wasn't. McAuley was visibly exhausted, too, and it showed in the worst way possible. Too tired to hold a high guard or use side to side body movement to defend himself, he wearily tried to pull straight back from a desperate lunge from Bassa. He didn't lean back far enough, though, taking a huge right hand flush on the chin which sent him tottering to the ropes. He looked as if he'd navigated his way out of trouble for a moment, looking to stick and move, but trying to keep the snarling champion at bay for so long had left him with little spring in his legs; Bassa soon caught up with him and pinned him to the ropes, landing three clubbing right hands, the middle of them a truly horrific uppercut, which sent McAuley to the canvas as if he'd been filleted. No sooner had the referee started the count, McAuley's manager Barney Eastwood took the compassionate option, throwing in the towel and bringing a truly remarkable contest to a close.

Why it's here: Carnage. Pandemonium. Devastation. Do any of these adjectives quite do this fight justice? I'm not sure that they do. Unlike some of the other fights listed previously, this one doesn't really have any great historical significance to the 112 lb division, and nor was it the greatest night of either man's career; Bassa's win over an acknowledged Flyweight great in Zapata must take that honour for him, whereas McAuley would eventually go on to achieve his world title goal himself in 1989. But in terms of the pure action on offer, there can be no debate, surely. This fight just has to be number one. Ebb and flow, blood spill, knockdowns, a great comeback from both men - there is little that these thirteen rounds didn't encapsulate. Let's be clear about this, lads; there are great fights, there are amazing fights, and then there are fights like this. The kind of fight which leaves you wondering if you really did just see what you think you did, and one which any serious fan of the sport could watch over and over again. If there's ever been a better title fight in the Flyweight division (or, incidentally, in a UK ring), then I'm yet to see it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As I'm sure you can all appreciate, selecting these fights and putting them in to some kind of reasonable order was a subjective task, particularly with those aforementioned difficulties in finding suitable bouts to cover for this, the 112 lb edition of the series. However, it's most definitely been a labour of love. With the Light-Heavies and Welters, owing to the depth, glamour and history of the divisions, writing such an article for them was really just an exercise in revisiting some old favourites. For this one, however, I've had to dig deep, take some real time and learn a thing or two which I most certainly didn't know before. As such, I'm glad I got round to doing the Flyweights when I have - after all, isn't that what 606v2 boxing is all about? There's always something new to be learned, a new fighter to properly discover for the first time, always another classic fight to be unearthed.

If anyone wants to share their memories of any of these fights, query my order or make fresh suggestions, then fire away. Thanks again for sticking with it until the bitter end, lads!


Last edited by 88Chris05 on Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by BoxingFan88 Wed 24 Oct 2012, 10:54 pm

Thanks a lot for this great article! I am always astounded at the depth of knowledge some of the posters have on here about the history of boxing.

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Post by TheMackemMawler Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:01 pm

clap
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Post by 88Chris05 Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:07 pm

Thanks, lads. As long as someone appreciates it, it'll be worth the effort!
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Post by tomfinneywalksonwater Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:22 pm

Thank you for this, absolutely brilliant.

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Post by BoxingFan88 Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:39 pm

Haha just watching the Donaire Darchinyan fight again.

Donaire didn't want to beat Darchinyan because he beat his brother. He wanted to beat him up because he was an arrogant bully.

Classic and what a thumping he received as well!

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Post by 88Chris05 Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:43 pm

I know, brilliant performance wasn't it, BF88? The making of Donaire, and it's not as if he was merely 'exposing' Darchinyan, because Vic is a top class fighter, even though I don't care for his style.

Thanks for the kind words by the way, tomfinneywalksonwater.
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Post by azania Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:48 pm

Wasn't McAuley involved in a fight where he was bounced off the canvas more times that I can remember and still outpointed the opponent?

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Post by BoxingFan88 Wed 24 Oct 2012, 11:50 pm

Yep that counter left hook was an absolute peach and the Showtime commentary as it happened was even better!

"Oh Look Out Darchinyan Down For the First Time!" etc.... probably one of the most memorable I have heard.

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Post by BoxingFan88 Thu 25 Oct 2012, 12:24 am

Love Vic Darchinyan's interview, hahaha...

"I don't feel I was hurt, I don't think I was knocked down"

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Post by Soldier_Of_Fortune Thu 25 Oct 2012, 7:12 am

I like these lists Chris, great contribution to the site plus gives me further knowledge on a division I don't know too much about historically.

Am not questioning your top ten but did you consider Henan Marquez v Luis Concepcion I? That was a cracking fight.


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Post by 88Chris05 Thu 25 Oct 2012, 8:43 am

Soldier_Of_Fortune wrote:I like these lists Chris, great contribution to the site plus gives me further knowledge on a division I don't know too much about historically.

Am not questioning your top ten but did you consider Henan Marquez v Luis Concepcion I? That was a cracking fight.


Thanks a lot, SOF. Got to be honest, mate, I've not seen that one, although I've heard others as well as yourself mention that it was a top drawer fight. Definitely one I'll need to check out.
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Post by 88Chris05 Thu 25 Oct 2012, 8:46 am

azania wrote:Wasn't McAuley involved in a fight where he was bounced off the canvas more times that I can remember and still outpointed the opponent?

His first fight with Rodolfo Blanco, Az. I've only seen a few highlights from that one, and annoyingly couldn't find the proper fight on YouTube, so couldn't include it really. Will keep looking for it, though.
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Post by Soldier_Of_Fortune Thu 25 Oct 2012, 9:00 am

88Chris05 wrote:
Soldier_Of_Fortune wrote:I like these lists Chris, great contribution to the site plus gives me further knowledge on a division I don't know too much about historically.

Am not questioning your top ten but did you consider Henan Marquez v Luis Concepcion I? That was a cracking fight.


Thanks a lot, SOF. Got to be honest, mate, I've not seen that one, although I've heard others as well as yourself mention that it was a top drawer fight. Definitely one I'll need to check out.

Yer suggest you have a watch on Youtube when you get a chance, probs my favourite fight from 2011.

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Post by ShahenshahG Thu 25 Oct 2012, 9:17 am

Cheers Chris - My weekend at work won't be as insufferable as i'd imagined. Saved me a fortune in comfort food

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Post by 88Chris05 Thu 25 Oct 2012, 9:20 am

No worries, Shah - isn't this your birthday weekend? Thought you'd be out on the town, lad!
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Post by ShahenshahG Thu 25 Oct 2012, 9:27 am

it was yesterday - but I prefer a nice roller and an evening smoking shisha to going out. Also Daughter is teething and wont sleep without me so more or less confined to my own neighbourhood and work.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Thu 25 Oct 2012, 9:42 am

Great stuff, Chris as usual. Said it before but you should give some serious consideration to writing professionally, the standard really is that good. You're not Hugh McIlvanney yet mate, but your articles are not bad!

Anyway, great list and there are a few I haven't seen so I will check them out as I do like the little guys. I love the Yuri Arbachakov fight. He was a great little fighter and another one that 'got away' from my man El Finito. That would have been a beauty.



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Post by 88Chris05 Thu 25 Oct 2012, 9:48 am

Thanks, Tino. Arbachakov was a cracking little fighter, wasn't he? A very easy on the eye boxer-puncher and as quick as greased lightning, too. Never really thought about him facing off against Lopez, but it would have been a superb fight, I think.
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Post by superflyweight Thu 25 Oct 2012, 11:34 am

Lovely stuff, chris. Two or three there that I've not seen but I'm really happy that Bassa v McAuley made the top spot. Certainly the finest fight I've seen in a UK ring and simply one of the greatest fights of all time.

That the fight is on youtube in its entirety is one of the wonders of the modern age.

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Post by 88Chris05 Thu 25 Oct 2012, 11:42 am

Thanks a lot, Superfly.

Yep, when it came to the Flyweights it just couldn't be any fight other than Bassa-McAuley I at the top. It's amazing enough just watching it knowing the result beforehand, so I can only imagination how it must have been for those who saw it unfold live or, better still, in front of them at the Kings Hall.

Phenomenal stuff and by far the easiest decision for the number one spot that I'll make during this series, I reckon.
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Post by captain carrantuohil Sat 03 Nov 2012, 10:45 pm

Only just seen this, Chris. Chapeau, old son - a marvellous job. Your number one brooks no argument; it's one of the top five fights of all time, for me, regardless of era, location or weight division. An imperishable classic.

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Post by AlexHuckerby Sun 04 Nov 2012, 12:02 am

I watched the McAuley fight earlier today, and well... THANKYOU!

What a fight, I truly mean it, without a shadow of a doubt am I going to watch the rest that I haven't yet seen, awesome job Chris.

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Post by jimmy glitter pants Sun 04 Nov 2012, 8:28 am

Johnny Roberto was a good fight

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Post by Rodney Sun 04 Nov 2012, 11:00 am

Top draw article Chris, for a man of such a young age your knowledge and writing are a credit to you mate.

Can't be any argument from anyone regards no 1 in the list think you summed it up perfectly when you uttered the word carnage, remember this on Sky Sports back in the day when Sky actually aired boxing, Gary Norman as the presenter happy days and a truly memorable fight.

Cheers Rodders
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Sun 04 Nov 2012, 11:10 am

Easy with the brown nosing..unless It's directed at me...

The first fight between Bassa and Zapata was a good one too and the scenes afterwards made Minter-Hagler look like a family picnic (or one without the father-in law anyway)

I'd have chosen that one but it's a good list...though I'd generally rather watch bigger guys If I'm honest...

especially at the blue oyster...............

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Post by Rodney Sun 04 Nov 2012, 11:16 am

TRUSSMAN66 wrote:Easy with the brown nosing..unless It's directed at me...

The first fight between Bassa and Zapata was a good one too and the scenes afterwards made Minter-Hagler look like a family picnic (or one without the father-in law anyway)

I'd have chosen that one but it's a good list...though I'd generally rather watch bigger guys If I'm honest...

especially at the blue oyster...............

Sorry big fella

you're the best
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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 05 Nov 2012, 1:28 am

Wow, a nice little surprise for me to return at the end of the weekend to see that this one got a few more replies that I wasn't expecting. Thanks a lot, everyone.

Particularly glad you deemed it worthy of comment, captain, as a couple of your suggestions played such a big role in me finally getting the article finished. And Alex, I'm also glad you took the article's advice and had a look at McAuley-Bassa I - bleedin' incredible, isn't it? As I mentioned earlier, it was difficult to pick a winner for the Light-Heavyweights and Welters, but this one was a piece of cake.

Thanks for your contributions too, Rodders and Truss.
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