Fight of the Year: Akira Yaegashi vs. Pornsawan "Terminator" Porpramook

By Ted Sares: 2011 could well be described as an odd year in boxing. We had “Toegate.” We had the horrid Lara-Williams decision, the Hopkins-Dawson debacle, and the strange ending of Mayweather vs. Ortiz. There were many strange referee jobs this year as well including the dangerous non-stoppage of Holly Holm and the low blow fest on Joseph Agbeko. 2011 also saw the Mexican fighters make a strong showing including Juan Manuel Marquez’s sparkling performance in “defeat,” and Canelo’s emergence as a phenom. Antonio Tarver continued to shine as both a commentator and a boxer.

Ann "Brown Sugar" Wolfe and her charge James Kirkland did enough in one year to make any fan happy. The “Mandingo Warrior’s’ turnaround, with its many subplots, was one made for the movies.

While Andre Ward will run off with Fighter of the Year, he still lacks the shock and awe or charismatic sizzle that usually accompanies such an award. He just may win all of his fights without a KO, but winning almost 90% of the rounds is probably as good as anything.

Fight of the Year: Yaegashi vs. Porpramook

Now most may assert that when it comes to Fight of the Year, it will be hard to beat the Wolak vs. Rodriquez draw and the Berto vs. Ortiz brawl, but I submit I have two fights that did just that.

Yaegashi (Japan) and Porpramook (Thailand) put on one of the greatest fights since the 2006 classic for the WBA World super bantamweight title between Thai warrior Somsak Sithchatchawal and Frenchman Mahyar “Little Tyson” Monshipour. Thai fighters seem to have a knack for engaging in such incredible fights.

Yaegashi (15-2) vs. Porpramook (23-4-1) took place on October 24 in Tokyo and those fortunate enough to view the footage are still in a daze over what they saw. These two warriors arguably fought the greatest strawweight (minumweight) fight ever. The fury of the fight built and increased into the late rounds, as the display of fast punching, withering hooks, sharp counters, punishing overhand rights, and incredible stamina on the part of both fighters had the crowd up and roaring throughout. Finally, in the 10th stanza, Yaegashi caught the Thai on the ropes and unleashed a flurry that snapped the Terminator’s neck back forcing the referee to end matters as the crowd went into an absolute frenzy. At stake was Porpramook’s WBA World Minimumweight title.

Second place: Makoto Fuchigami vs. Koji Sato

Technique and skill had long been replaced by the basic desire to win. Blood, trickling off the face of each fighter, sprayed about the ring as each man launched and absorbed haymaker after haymaker

--Sidney Boquiren

In a mirror image of Yaegashi and Porpramook, the back and forth, ebb and flow drama that unfolded in the blood spattering brawl between Japanese middleweights Makoto Fuchigami (18-6) and Koji Sato (20-2) on December 12 in Tokyo was not one for the faint of heart. This non-stop brawl featured one rattling haymaker after another—wave after wave-- and most seemed to land. It became a battle of sheer attrition until near the end when one of the most dramatic comebacks I have ever witnessed occurred.

Fuchigami,. his face looking like a tomato pizza, seemed ready to go up until the ninth, but then he decided that round nine would be his chance to end matters against a now badly fatigued and virtually powerless Sato.The bigger Sato found himself pinned against the ropes and unable to fend off Fuchigami’s swarming attack. The referee stepped in to rescue the helpless champion at the 1.26 mark.

Like the Yaegashi vs. Porpramook, this was another that flew under the radar but fortunately I caught both on video and will not soon forget what I witnessed. The difference between these two brawls was razor thin and there was nothing odd about them.

Article posted on 20.12.2011

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