By Joe Koizumi
Photo by Boxing Beat
It was a show in commemoration of former OPBF super-middle and light heavy champ Yoshinori Nishizawa’s farewell to the ring. Nishizawa, 48, officially announced his retirement and appeared in sparring sessions prior to a customary ten-gong ceremony on Tuesday at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
In the main event, up-and-coming featherweight stablemate of Nishizawa, Tsuyoshi Tameda (9-1-1, 7 KOs), 126, displayed a fine performance in defeating Indonesian champ Hero Tito (17-4, 9 KOs), 126, by a shutout decision (all 80-71) over eight lopsided rounds. Tameda, five years his junior at 20, floored Tito with a well-timed right to the button to take the initiative in the opening session. Tito, a solid left hooker, occasionally threw his trademark looping lefts but Tameda kept stalking him with a positive two-fisted attack throughout the contest. Tameda, a sturdy youngster, had the Indonesian champ at bay with a vicious right but failed to finish him with a follow-up attack in round five. Tameda, powerful and aggressive, may be worth watching from now on.
JBC#8 super-bantam, 35-year-old veteran Nobuhisa Coronita Doi (28-14-8, 10 KOs), 126, battered Indonesian #4 Rivo Rengkung (29-18-4, 11 KOs), 125.5, from all angles to win a nearly shutout verdict (79-74, 80-73, 80-72) over eight frames. It was a rather easy fight for Doi, formerly a sparring partner for Marco Antonio Barrera in Mexico, who, however, suffered a lump on the forehead, while Rengkung, a game and gallant loser, a gash on the right optic due to their repeated head-collisions.
Elongated feather, JBC#7 Takuya Watanabe (20-4-1, 8 KOs), 128.5, looked too cautious to smoothly throw punches in earlier rounds, but turned loose from the sixth round on and finally caught Indonesian #10 Yakobus Heluka (7-5, no KO), 125.75, with a wicked body shot to embalm him in agony at 2:28 of the seventh session.
Since it might be the last opportunity for this reporter to write on Nishizawa as a boxer, I hereby review his long career since 1986. Before that, I wish to mention his promoter/manager/trainer Kenji Yonekura, ex-Olympian in Melbourne in 1956 (when the legendary Eder Jofre also participated in the same Olympic Games and lost in a quarter-final contest), who had a couple of ambitious cracks against world flyweight champ Pascual Perez and bantam titlist Jose Becerra. Yonekura, a light-punching but stylish footworker, acquired the vacant Japanese flyweight belt in his fifth professional bout in 1959 (just six months after his pro debut), and almost wrested the world 118-pound belt when he lost a split decision (146-142, 147-141 but 143-148) over fifteen Tom-and-Gerry rounds in 1960.
After he, in his last fight, forfeited his Oriental bantam belt to southpaw compatriot Katsutoshi Aoki (who had a shot at Eder Jofre only to be demolished in three rounds the next year) in 1962, he opened his Yonekura Gym, from which he produced five world champs such as Kuniaki Shibata (who dethroned Vicente Saldivar and Ben Villaflor both abroad), Guts Ishimatsu (who wrested the belt from Rodolfo Gonzalez and defended it against Ken Buchanan), Shigeo Nakajima (who dethroned Sung-Jun Kim), Hideyuki Ohashi (who won the WBC and the WBA 105-pound belts) and Hiroshi Kawashima (who deprived Jose Luis Bueno of the throne).
One of his mediocre pupils was Yoshinori Nishizawa, who was really a late bloomer that could win his first belt at the age of thirty-one by acquiring the Japanese national middleweight throne at his fourth attempt in 1997. His mark was then nothing but 12-9-4, 8 KOs. People thought his reign and future career would be short due to his age, but Nishizawa kept fighting for thirteen years since.
Nishizawa, an elongated but less sharp banger, kept his national 160-pound belt three times before losing it to Japan-based US campaigner Kevin Palmer in 1998. He failed to win back the belt, losing a split duke to Nobunao Otani three months later. People then thought Nishizawa had better hang up gloves for good at the age of thirty-two.
Nishizawa, however, surprisingly annexed the OPBF super-middleweight throne by winning a unanimous nod over 6’3” Korean Yong-Suk Choi in 1999, and kept it once prior to a bitter forfeiture of the belt to Aussie jabber Guy Walters next year. The Japanese veteran then shifted his target to the OPBF light heavyweight title then held by a compatriot Hisashi Teraji only to lose in a 12-round bout in 2000.
The awkward stylist Nishizawa eventually won the OPBF 175-pound belt by eking out a split nod over Aussie Heath Stenton in a hairline contest in 2001. After he kept the regional belt, the then 38-year-old Japanese saw his fondest wish come true. That’s a gift from Australia, where he was given a shot at the WBA super-middle diadem against Anthony Mundine in Wollongong in 2004. Nishizawa amazingly floored the world champ with a lucky punch but succumbed via fifth round TKO at the hand of the faster champion.
Nishizawa was thought and expected to retire after his dearest wish of having a world title shot, but, only three months thereafter, came back to the squared circle and acquired the vacant OPBF 168-pound belt by finishing Fijian Paula Tuilau in five fine rounds. The 38-year-old veteran, again, was rendered a world title crack at the WBC super-middle belt against Markus Beyer only to lose a unanimous verdict in Bayreuth, Germany.
Nishizawa failed to win back the OPBF belt, losing to Dale Westerman and Peter Mitrevski Jr. in succession in 2005. Truly it was time for Nishizawa to quit, but the stubborn Japanese kept fighting and gained the OPBF light heavyweight throne by finishing Marika Katonivere in the opening session in 2006. But his forfeiture of the OPBF belt to Aussie grudge rival Heath Stenton in 2007 cost much as the JBC announced to have Nishizawa’s license stripped because of his age and defeat.
The 41-year-old Japanese never quit fighting despite the JBC’s strong disapproval of his future career but had Australia his second home ground, where he acquired the less prestigious WBF Asia Pacific light heavy belt by disposing of Kenwuwit Tor. Silachai in seven rounds in Newcastle in 2007. Since his move to Down Under, his record there was 3-3-1 in seven bouts in almost four years. But he did his best.
The Japanese six-footer fought his final bout by knocking out Chokchana Sithkrupon in five rounds in Cronulla, Australia, in December 2011. He didn’t and couldn’t appear in the ring any longer.
Nishizawa, at the ceremony in the ring, emotionally wept but thanks for his adherents’ long and warm support for no less than twenty-five years. He said, “Your encouragements made me fight on and I hereby welcome such a wonderful ceremony to celebrate my retirement. I really appreciate your long supports. I’d like to go forward with my boxing experience in my second life. Thank you.” His overall record was 31-21-6, 19 KOs in fifty-eight competitions.
Nishizawa, 48, was called “Star of the middle aged” here and kept his sincere efforts to fight on in Japan and Australia. He hopes to cultivate younger pupils from now on, and his long and bitter experience will certainly prevail in teaching them how to box. Good luck.