By Tré Berry III🖊️ | 01/08/2020
These days, when you see the President of the Japanese Boxing Association, that being Masahiko Harada (better known as 👑🇯🇵Fighting Harada (55-7-0, 22KO👊)), you see a distinguished, quiet, jovial 76 year old man whose default facial expression is that of a smile and 🪞deep reflection – one who looks the part of being the least threatening man in the room if you were to base your assessments heavily weighing on aesthetics. What some folks today don’t realize that aren’t aware of his early legacy as a fighter was that this little guy was a nightmare , an aggressive, tenacious whirlwind of a Champion, who would gladly bring the fight to you.
He did not possess true bone crunching power, but his relentless pursuit wore down many of his opponents (in some ways like how the great 👑🇺🇸Henry Armstrong did on a grander scale) while bolstering the mental pressure, and he would do this behind a sophisticated, cerebral attack and methodical approach to set traps, bait you in and take advantage of your openings, putting the puzzle together to solve you and break you down in the long run. He loved to whip the left hook to the body as his best weapon, tripling up with it on multiple occasion, and somehow got a great deal of range on his right cross out of his small frame consisting of 5’3 in height, and 64 inches in reach. Fighting Harada is nearly universally recognized as the greatest “retired” Japanese fighter in boxing history, one who was also a very fine ambassador for the sport of boxing in his 11 years of service to the sport.
YOUNG MAN MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Young Masahiko Harada started his professional journey at just 16 years old by facing a boxer named 🇯🇵Isami Masui, who also was making his pro debut, and Harada got the first victory on his ledger after knocking out Masui in the 4th round. Harada was notorious for fighting most of his fights throughout his career over in Japan, and with his ascension up the Flyweight rankings, he gained the adulation of the local contingent early and gained a reputation as a hungry fighter.
He fought very often in his first couple years, expounding upon his growing fan support and won his first 25 fights (included in that win streak was future Lineal Flyweight World Champion 👑🇯🇵Hiroyuki Ebihara), until he met with Mexican pugilist 🇲🇽Edmundo Esparza in 1962, where he dropped a split-decision 10 round contest in Tokyo. Harada used it as a learning opportunity to accelerate his maturation process upon improving as a fighter.
MASAHIKO’S FIRST MAJOR OPPORTUNITY
That was perhaps the kick in the backside he needed as he positioned himself to the top and was granted the opportunity to fight UNDISPUTED/RING/LINEAL Flyweight Champion of the World 🇹🇭Pone Kingpetch soon after. Kingpetch won his Title against Hall-of-Fame Argentinian 🇦🇷Pascual Perez, and Kingpetch was looking to make the 4th defense as the divisions World Champion against Harada.
At the start of their fight, Harada came sprinting out of his corner immediately towards center ring to meet the Champion head-on, swinging away and putting an immense amount of pressure on Kingpetch, who at the onset you could tell was a little taken aback by Harada’s relentless tenacity. Kingpetch tried to get the jab going early, but Harada wouldn’t allow him to establish any type of rhythm, and began to target Kingpetch’s body exclusively.
The tone of the fight was set, and it was the tone in which Masayuki Harada sought out to set, forcing the Thai fighter to operate on his heels in a reactive state instead of him leading the charge and dictating terms of the contest the way he set out to. Harada had no fear of Kingpetch whatsoever, and forced a war of a fight to break out.
Kingpetch tried to counter Harada coming in, but he had trouble picking up on his tendencies, and couldn’t accurately 🔮predict what punch Harada was going to throw, nor could get get a jump on his sequences of punches, which had Kingpetch at a disadvantage throughout the entire fight. In the middle rounds, Harada decided to make a tactical change, and began to box the Champion from middle-distance.
Kingpetch successfully landed a couple of solid left hooks in the midst of the action, but he couldn’t inflict the damage needed to 🌱plant a seed of doubt in the head of the eager challenger to slow down his all-out pursuit. Harada in the 11th round found his golden-moment when he 💥landed a devastating right hand to the jaw of Kingpetch at center ring that staggered him badly, rocking him down to his boots.
With a hurt Champion in front of him, Harada mauled his way inside to trap Kingpetch in the corner, and Harada (completely aware of the situation at hand) let off an insane 🥊🥊41 punch combination that went unanswered, overwhelming Kingpetch to eventually drop him down to the canvas.
The crowd was in complete bedlam as the Referee started his count. As the Referee continued to count, there were no advancements from Kingpetch to signify that he was going to make the effort to get up on his feet. The crowd sensed it too and started erupting in a collective ecstatic uproar as the count got to its advanced stage. The crowd reached its climax as they were in complete joy over what their home fighter had just achieved in triumph, resulting in one of the 📢loudest moments in the history of all sporting events on Japanese soil.
Upon becoming Undisputed Lineal Flyweight Champion, Harada also won the WBA Flyweight Title, which was the very first of its issue as it was formally introduced to the Flyweight division for the winner of this contest. Harada would go on to become the youngest Japanese World Champion ever. He would also become the second youngest World Champion at 19 years old (and 188 days to be precise) in boxing history, sitting only behind 🇺🇸🇵🇷Wilfred Benitez, who won his first World Title at the age of 17 in that category.
KINGPETCH LOOKING TO REGAIN HIS SEAT
An instant rematch between Harada and 👑🇹🇭Pone Kingpetch was agreed upon, and it would take place 3 months after the first fight. With Harada now the Champion this time around, he was in possession of the ♛LINEAL & WBA World Titles, but he would travel away from Japan for the first time as a boxer to Thailand for an attempt at his first World Title defense, this time to be held on Kingpetch’s home soil.
The fight started after a lengthy delay, and Harada came out looking to box in mid-range. Kingpetch himself was looking to do the same, with that being within the confines of his natural element. Harada would switch up his tactics soon after, pressing the action to get Kingpetch backpedaling toward the ropes where Harada would get some quality bodywork done. What was made abundantly clear during their two battles was that Harada was physically the stronger of the two men, so he continued to exploit Kingpetch in that area.
Kingpetch did however do his homework between fights and got a better gauge on Harada’s 📍timing, so he was more successful this time around landing counter punches that he delivered over the top. During the middle rounds, the World Champion came out like a madman, and Kingpetch was seemingly out of ideas in how to combat against the Harada at this point, often trying to hold him in order to slow down the activity, and being hurt multiple times from a multitude of combinations authored up by Harada at an accelerated rate.
Kingpetch just didn’t have the pop, speed or work rate to keep Harada off of him to operate in his desired range and distance, and the theme was common throughout much of the fight as Kingpetch continuously sought after ways of trying to get the upper hand over Harada in the scoring department.
Kingpetch did finally get his offense going down the stretch of the fight however, landing his power at a far higher 📎clip than had been the case in the first 10 rounds of the contest. There was a drastic 📈uptick in his activity, and was able to turn the tides of the fight in his favor during the late portion of the fight, which was a scheduled 15 round match.
While Kingpetch did himself a service in the last 4 rounds of the fight, I personally felt that Harada’s sheer dominance dominant throughout the first 10 rounds of the bout should have granted him having a sizable lead built up as the fight was approaching its end, but apparently the official Judges did not see it that way once the fight did get to the final bell, and the scorecards were tallied up.
I personally had Harada winning this contest by about 4 rounds. What we ended up getting instead was a controversial Majority Decision verdict that was given to Pone Kingpetch by the official Judges, and he was once again crowned the ♛UNDISPUTED/LINEAL Flyweight Champion of the World.
One wonders how much influence played a part with the fight being fought in Thailand, and to what degree, if any may have possibly skewed the plight of the Judges, but this one officially went into the books as such, so Harada following the bout would look ⬆️north and turn his direction towards entering a heavier ⚖️weight division.
HARADA GOES NORTH IN WEIGHT, FINDS OPPONENT WITH CHAMPIONSHIP “MEDEL”
Harada for a few fights moved all the way up to the Super-Bantamweight division, to get used to combating against bigger men, and looking to size himself up against the competition, with the intention of settling down in the Bantamweight division to 🎯target the cream of the crop of fighters that resided there in pursuit of the Title.
Harada however did suffer a defeat when he fared off against his first high-end opponent at Bantamweight, that fighter being Mexico’s 🇲🇽Jose Medel (pictured below), who at the time ranked as a top-5 world contender by the WBA’s sanctioning body.
Jose Medel was a power puncher by trait, and with Harada coming up in weight, and getting caught with a hard cross while he was charging in, he had a difficult time handling the circumstance he ultimately found himself in, as he was rarely ever put on that side of the coin when he was campaigning as the aggressive pressure fighter in the Flyweight division facing men similar of size.
Harada fought all the way to the end, throwing combinations all the way up to the end of the fight. He however went down 3 times in the contest before he was counted out by assigned Referee 🕴️Haruo Ishiwatarido after examining Harada’s condition when Harada was on his feet looking to continue.
For Harada following the loss, it was a priority for him to get back to the adjustment period and tweak a few components of his arsenal – fortunately for him, he was a 🧠fast learner, and very quick to adapt, so he regrouped himself and came back a far better fighter, one who became much more acclimated physically to combat against full Bantamweight sized foes. From here he would go on an impressive streak, winning 8 bouts in a row that was instrumental in lining him up for what would be by far the biggest fight of his career.
FACING A LEGEND, AND BECOMING ONE – EDER JOFRE MEETS HIS SUCCESSOR
In 1965, Fighting Harada had the grand opportunity heaped upon him to face legendary UNDISPUTED/LINEAL/WBA/WBC Bantamweight World Champion 👑🇧🇷Eder Jofre, who was seemingly invincible at the time, and came into the contest unbeaten, donning an outstanding 47-0-3 professional record.
Just like how Kingpetch as a Champion came to Japan to fight Masayuki, Jofre ultimately did the same touching down on Japanese soil to take on the assignment from the eager challenger. Jofre had 8 straight Title defenses as the King of the Bantamweights during a 4 year span, and carved a legacy that at the time arguably had him as perhaps the best fighter in the world, but what he was about to experience would be his toughest test yet, but he was up for a challenge.
Jofre took his time early in the fight, getting a feel of the action while Harada (living up to his nickname) came out guns-a-blazin’, firing away at the Champ with a high volume of sustained activity. Despite Harada’s attempt to speed the Champion up to get him out of his 📦comfort zone, Jofre controlled the tempo of the fight early to his whim, and showed the type of poise that you would expect from a great Champion such as was his stature.
Harada was still able to land consistency though, picking through Jofre’s defense. Masahiko exhibited a lot of poise throughout the execution of his offense, and compiled a good lead on the scorecards early. Perhaps the most underrated portion of Harada’s skill-set was his footwork, always able to position himself to get leverage on all his punches inside, whether it came from the left, or the right hand.
Uppercuts, hooks, crosses…upstairs, downstairs, positioning – Fighting Harada utilized his full 🧰arsenal for this contest, and he was causing some major problems for the super Champion, and Jofre at some point after being staggered a couple of times in the middle rounds came to the realization that something was in need for a change to 🔧alter the course of this bout, going into full on adjustment mode.
By 🛎️round 10, Jofre fought more aggressively and began to shovel the left hook to the body to try and off-set Harada’s rhythm, and to get him to at least think twice about how he was charging in there, as hesitation is normally something that could be exploited by a counter-puncher such as Jofre was. Perhaps it did work, or at least in conjunction with a deliberate 🧠tactical change made by Harada, getting on his toes to box and move around in middle distance instead of charging forward like he did for the majority of the fight.
While Jofre had his moments late, nothing he did would deter Harada’s confidence, and Harada fought like a man who was looking to do anything to overtake the Champion and step in his 👞👞shoes as the man of the division. A competitive finish down the stretch, the 15th and 🔔final bell sounded, thus concluding the end of a well contested affair between two great fighters from completely different walks of life.
The fight was a tight one, and that view was reflected on the scorecards as a close Unanimous Decision verdict was reached. There was a new Undisputed World Bantamweight Champion, and 🇯🇵Fighting Harada was hoisted up in the air at the rejoice of his people in Japan. He had ended the 50-fight unbeaten streak that great Eder Jofre came in with, and he was awarded the ♛RING/WBA/WBC World Title belts. This was the second division that Harada achieved Lineal status in, and had also achieved becoming the most decorated Japanese boxer in their history associated with the sport of boxing.
A GAME EFFORT BY THE ENGLISHMAN
Now at the pinnacle of his journey and sitting as one of the true leading men of the sport, Masahiko would look forward to face quality, suitable opposition as a Champion. For his first Title defense, Britain’s 🇬🇧Alan Rudkin was next in the script.
Rudkin was a solid World contender who had won the British Commonwealth Bantamweight Title a few fights prior, and he gave a game effort against Harada, but was ultimately over-matched through 15 rounds. Harada would get the Unanimous Decision victory as his official 1st World Title defense, and to follow, he would turn his attention over to the highly sought after re-match that the division was in need of.
THE REMATCH OF ALL REMATCHES – TWO BANTAMWEIGHT LEGENDS MEET AGAIN
Former Bantamweight King 👑🇧🇷Eder Jofre had his eyes set on avenging his loss against the only man that he was bested by, and 🇯🇵Masahiko Harada wanted to prove himself once again against the very best that was out there for him to face. The 2 future Hall-of-Famer’s would once again take their fight to Japan, at 🏟️Tokyo’s Budokan Hall to be precise.
Jofre came out far more active, mobile, and in better shape this time around, while Harada came with the same tenacious voracity that had become commonplace for him throughout all of his fights. A more determined effort by the legendary Brazilian challenger made for a seemingly more difficult assignment for Mr. Harada, but he was still able to match whatever Jofre rolled out from a tactical standpoint, and still landed his signature combinations to the body.
The two fought to a stranglehold of a struggle in the middle rounds as two unrelenting forces that understood the magnitude of this 📜historic event that they found themselves starring in, so there was a more concerted effort put forth by both men looking to achieve their ultimately glory. Jofre had a bit more success this time around landing the wide uppercut, but Harada took his punches well and kept coming with heat of his own.
During the late stages of the fight, when there needed to be an imprint established on the contest, Masahiko hurt Jofre badly with a nasty shovel hook to the body, and he let the punches fly in bunches, pummeling Jofre while his back was up against the ropes. Eder would survive that moment, but that was perhaps the moment where separation began in the mind of the public at the stadium between the two men, with the Champion proving his standing in those waning moments.
The scorecards reflected that as well as we once again had a razor close verdict on all 3 cards, albeit all in agreement seeing Harada as the winner as he collected his 2nd win by Unanimous Decision over the legendary Brazilian boxer, further cementing his legacy. This was Harada’s 2nd defense of his ♛UNDISPUTED/LINEAL/WBA/WBC Titles, and was the magnitude of victory that Masahiko could rubber-stamp his career with, no matter what happened from this point on.
HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE👂 – Later in life, Eder Jofre revealed to the public that out of all of the top-notch boxers he had fought throughout his illustrious career, 📌Harada had the fastest hands of them all, which contributed to why he had a difficult time picking off his punches defensively, and he also stated that 📌Harada was also the smartest combatant he had ever faced –🔺very high praise from one established legend to a new one, who tapped into that stratosphere of greatness after defeating Jofre twice in as many fights, and being the only opponent in Jofre’s entire career that he could not defeat.
ANOTHER REMATCH – REVENGE ON THE MIND OF THE JAPANESE WARRIOR
Where would Harada turn next after his monumental victory? he would partake in some in between non-Title bouts, then following, he would get a re-match against his former conqueror 🇲🇽Jose Medel, who bested Harada 4 years prior in 1963 winning by way of 6th round technical knockout.
The differences between the two was that this time, Harada was the Bantamweight Champion of the World, and he had improved drastically since dropping that contest to Medal, with some credit going to Medal in pushing Harada to improve to the levels in which he personally reached.
With very little fear of consequence from Harada after what happened to him in their first encounter, Harada lived in Medel’s kitchen for much of the re-match, looking to trade and outwork the skilled Mexican fighter, but also picking his spots to box. Medel himself was looking to box as his game-plan, but he was getting outpointed throughout the rounds.
A fight broke out in the 🛎️10th round, with shades of the first fight popping into memory of how that one ended, as Medal hurt Harada with a right hand with subsequent combinations hitting the mark, and Harada electing to spend his time coming forward and 🔨hammering away at the body instead of holding. Masahiko would endure that moment, but one more moment in the contest stood out in the 15th and final round (which was a great round and end to this fight), when Medal hurt Harada with a cross and hook with about ⏲️20 seconds to go that had the Champion on unsturdy legs, prompting him to hold on for the rest of the round to survive, which he did.
The Judges saw it as a competitive fight, but all three Judges awarded the victory to Harada for what was his official 3rd Bantamweight World Title defense. Interestingly enough, Fighting Harada himself following the fight stated that this fight against Medel was the toughest of his Title bouts that he had up to that point in his career – some added respect heaped upon Medel and his overall fighting ability.
TOP CONTENDER CARABALLO GIVES CHAMPION HARADA A STERN CHALLENGE
Colombian-born top contender 🇨🇴Bernardo Caraballo was next on the docket for Harada in 1967, and Caraballo came in with an impressive record, with 43 victories, and only having one loss to his name – that coming against 👑🇧🇷Eder Jofre in his first crack at the Bantamweight World Title in 1964.
With this being his second opportunity at the Bantamweight throne, he made sure to come with his best version of himself, and he managed to give Harada many problems throughout what was a very interesting match. 🖼️(Pictured Below)
Bernardo Caraballo was an athletic, intelligent outside boxer, who wanted to take advantage of his reach and keep Harada at his desired range. Caraballo was effectively landing the right hand, and caught Harada routinely while charging in, throwing him off rhythm and casting a 🔧wrench into his early game-plan that he came in with for this fight.
Harada, while dealing with the elusive target that Caraballo was proving to be, started to touch the torso more with his left hook and right hand, as the torso is customarily the most stationary portion of the body to hit when you’re dealing with a shifty boxer, so Harada started to fire to the body first, then come upstairs with combinations.
The fight was well fought by both men, providing competitive back-and-forth action in sections, so Masahiko Harada bit down and 📈increased his output later in the bout to give himself a little bit of a scoring cushion. Harada was awarded the UD victory, despite a game opponent in Caraballo who provided a solid challenge for the highly heralded Champion.
HISTORY TO BE MADE – LIONEL ROSE PUTS HIMSELF INTO THE RECORD BOOKS
On 🗓️February 27th, 1968, Harada would return to the ring yet again to defend his standing as Bantamweight King, and accompanying him to the ring in Tokyo was skilled Australian aboriginal World contender 👑🇦🇺Lionel Rose. Rose had made it to this marker for his major opportunity to become World Champion by defeating every boxer that he had faced up to that point, avenging the couple of losses he had with victories earned when he took immediate re-matches.
Rose was a calm, poised, patient customer, who was a master at using range, and seldom wasted any punches – so what Rose was entering the ring with, Harada had his hands full in trying to figure out how to get to him, and that was a common theme throughout the first portion of the fight.
Lionel Rose had a strong command of the ring throughout the early rounds, thwarting some of Harada’s aggression with well placed, well timed power shots, mostly by the left hook and right cross from a distance that Harada did not want to be in, or could flourish in to his liking as a pressure fighter.
Rose had the upper hand mentally, out-thinking the decorated Champion, and looked as if he was the boss in there at times, controlling the flow of the contest, and out-skilling Harada at outer range exclusively. The check-hook and the piston-jab had Harada 😕bewildered, as he was searching for ways to get inside while staying out of harms way.
Masahiko’s usual great footwork was a bit sloppy in this contest – perhaps the last point that I just made about Rose forcing him move and react differently with the countering had something to do with that, as Harada began to overthink his tactics instead of relying on his natural habitual instincts to take over and guide him inside of the ring.
Lionel Rose was not a big puncher, but he put a lot of snap and had a lot of sting on the end of his punch, which was enough to do the trick from a scoring standpoint, accentuating his punches to the eyes of the onlooking Judges. Harada as usual was not discouraged that the Australian fighter was getting the better of him, instead pushed forward harder trying to put together a good rally as the 🛎️rounds continued to tick away.
The problem was that Rose was a beautiful boxer who knew how to make adjustments on the fly, to a 🎚️level that Harada had not quite seen before from an opponent of his with the variety of skills that was brought forth in front of him for him to experience. Harada had a difficult time making adjustments, to the adjustments implemented by the confident challenger, and that ultimately was proving to be the difference of the fight between the 2 skilled warriors.
The fight was close, which was accurately reflected on the scorecards, but it was abundantly clear that Rose throughout the 15 rounds of action got the best of Harada. The lingering question however was “would Lionel Rose get a decision in this type of fight while taking place in the Champion’s home country of Japan❓” the answer was a resounding yes, and Rose had scored the great upset victory to end the dominant Champions run at the top of the division to overtake his position.
Lionel was now the new ♛UNDISPUTED/LINEAL/WBA/WBC Bantamweight World Champion. Below you could see Rose rejoicing his victory in the dressing room and holding up the very gloves that were an extension to his glory in defeating a Hall-of-Famer. With this incredible victory, Lionel Rose successfully put himself in the record books by becoming the first 🌏🇦🇺Australian aboriginal World Champion in history.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE FIGHTING MACHINE FROM JAPAN? TRAVEL NORTH IN WEIGHT
Upon losing his crown to Rose, that would be his last contest in the Bantamweight decision as he targeted the division north of that, and set his sights on the ⚖️Featherweight division with the lofty goal of becoming a 3-division, Triple-Crown winner, which up to this point (circa 1968-1969) had only been achieved by legends such as 👑🇺🇸Henry Armstrong, 👑🇺🇸Barney Ross, 👑🇺🇸Tony Canzoneri, 👑🇻🇮Emile Griffith and 👑🇺🇸Bob Fitzsimmons. Obtaining a Lineal triple-crown is a lofty goal, but great fighters search for opportunities to try and push their greatness forward, to transition the sport, and that’s exactly what Masahiko Harada set out to do.
In the next 13 months, he would take on 5 fights (most being at Super-Featherweight), and won 4 out those 5, although he did drop a Split-Decision to 🇺🇸Alton Colter, which was also a contest at Super-Featherweight. Harada would rebound with a victory, and he would finally get the major shot he set out for, to fight at the pinnacle of the Featherweight division..
OFF TO SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA! – FAMECHON TO HOST FIGHT AGAINST HARADA
At this juncture in time, talented world-level Australian boxer 👑🇫🇷🇦🇺Johnny Famechon reigned over the Featherweight division as its LINEAL/WBA World Champion, and had earned his Lineal moniker 6 months prior after he earned a points victory over then-Champion 👑🇨🇺Jose Legra. Harada would get his shot, and he would travel away from his home of Japan for this opportunity to fight on the Champion’s home turf.
Overseeing the bout as the official 3rd man in the ring was legendary All-Time-Great boxer & acting Referee for this contest 🕴️Willie Pep. While that is noteworthy tidbit in and of itself, Pep ultimately was tied up and 🕸️interwoven into the controversial backdrop of this major event event post-fight.
Johnny Famechon was set on using whatever tactic the challenger Fighing Harada was looking to use against him, and spinning it in his favor to put Harada in compromising situations he did not want to find himself in. Despite Famechon being the bigger man, Harada stuck to his base ferocious style of pressing forward and getting on the inside to inflict damage to the body. A great right hand counter over a Famechon jab landed and floored the Champion in the 2nd round to the shock of the 🏟️crowd in attendance.
Famechon wasn’t seriously hurt, but the damage was done, and it was a moment that signified that Harada could very well handle being in this contest, and would go to full lengths in trying to win the World Championship. Harada looked especially 🔪sharp early, and was on top of his game mentally, so Famechon realized he had to dial in so that he could box more effectively, and to see the incoming punches better so that he could get a leg up on the legendary Challenger.
Famechon boxed better a few rounds in, establishing more room between he and Harada which forced him to lunge more, opening up more opportunities for Famechon to counter him with the right hand when charging in. The jab became the Champions best friend as a battle of 👣footwork broke out with Harada relying on subtle steps to gain positioning inside, and Famechon off-setting that movement with clever escape tactics to re-set the range in his favor.
Harada was put down in the 5th round by a couple of good, short left hooks to even up the knockdown score – he would get up to continue fighting in the contest. Famechon had a lot of craft to his arsenal, and he would utilize it the more the fight went on to try and stay a step ahead of the menacing challenger. By round 10, Harada’s 👁️right eye was nearly swollen shut, so he put the pedal on the medal and went into stalker mode going after the Champ, landing some critical right hands that snapped back the head of Famechon.
Round 11 was a big one for the Japanese fighting machine as he landed a 💥monster right hand up top that sent Famechon spiraling down to the canvas. Famchon got up, but he was in serious peril as Harada came out like gangbusters and threw roughly 20 unanswered punches before Famechon came back with anything of his own. Famechon would manage to survive, and escape the perils of the 11th round.
Famechon would gain some control back the following round. The fight was close going into the last leg of the race, and it appeared that both combatants knew of it, as they put their best efforts forward to finish the fight. Famechon turned on the 🔥afterburners and was dominating Harada throughout most of the 14th round, but he shorted out as Harada once again landed his money punch, the right hand (of overhand variety this time) to knock Famechon down for the 3rd time in the contest – easily Harada’s best punch landed in the fight.
Famechon struggled to get to his feet, but successfully did so as Referee 🕴️Willie Pep was giving him a look-over examining his condition, and allowing him to continue. Fortunately for Famechon, the bell sounded for the end of the 14th round as Harada charged in for the ultimate finish. Though Harada couldn’t quite put Famechon away at this moment, he once again showcased a true 🖼️snapshot of greatness as to why he was revered as such throughout the last half decade.
Harada had a big round in the final 15th stanza, as he looked to compile and capitalize on his late success from the previous round. Famechon was too groggy to muster up a sustained attack, through he tried to rip some singular shots in through the incoming traffic. The final bell sounded, and Willie Pep immediately raised the hands of both fighters to signal that he scored it a draw 📍(Pep as the Referee was the only Scoring Official of this contest) His decision was met by a spattering of boos from the Sydney, Australia crowd who of course had their support behind their man Famechon. A huddle immediately surrounded Pep to count how he had his scorecard tallied, shortly after, drama ensued.
(THE HUDDLE OF OFFICIALS TO REVERSE FORTUNE – THE VERDICT CHANGES)
The huddle at ringside consisted of Harada & Famechon’s Trainers, some Officials as well as security, and after analyzing what Willie had 📝jotted down in terms of his point totals, his initial draw ruling issued for this contest was ↩️overturned, and the victory was 🎤announced, and delivered to Johnny Famechon, with a single point in his favor on Pep’s scorecard being the difference.
Not to suggest anything malicious, but it does not come across well anytime a score tally is 🧮miscalculated, especially when the fight is held in the hometown of the benefactor, that being Famechon in this case of course, so that will always remain as a controversial moment due to the circumstances surrounding the end of the fight.
Now make no mistake about it…Famechon was the reigning ♛LINEAL/WBA Featherweight World Champion, so even with the draw, it would count as a Title defense for him, which means on Willie’s scorecard, Harada would have fell a little short anyway, but still, it matters in the grand scheme of it all as history has Harada’s name associated with this contest, with an “L” attached to it.
Me personally, I had Fighting Harada winning this contest by 📝3 points, which would have added another historic landmark to his legacy, but I suppose the fight was close enough where you could make a case for either fighter, though I feel adamant that Harada should have walked out of there with the World Title belts.
A SECOND CRACK AT IT – FAMECHON AND HARADA GO TO DUEL IN A REMATCH
Fighting Harada’s previous fight was arguably the most entertaining one of his career, though it wasn’t in the cards for him (pun intended) from the scoring portion of the event. Fortunately on his behalf however, after netting a rebound victory over Filipino Journeyman 🇵🇭Pat Gonzales, Harada would get his re-match next against Featherweight World Champion Johnny Famechon for a second chance at history, and a second chance at redemption.
Was there a different layout to this rematch compared to the original contest? not really. You know exactly what Harada was looking to do, and Famechon wanted to tie him up early with some rough-house tactics to take away any and all opportunities for Harada to work inside of his reach.
The one difference this time around was that Famechon was more cognizant about seeing and picking off Harada’s right hand upstairs with his right glove positioning, after experiencing what level of damage it could do after being floored by it 3 times in their first 🛎️15 rounds sharing a ring.
The Champions ring-generalship was improved for this contest, and had Harada at his command more-so in the center of the ring, seldom being pinned to the ropes as was the case 5 months prior in their first scrap.
(HARADA IN GREEN TRUNKS, FAMECHON IN BLUE TRUNKS)
The quality versatility to Famechon’s skill-set was proving to be bothersome in the middle rounds, and started to compile the points and throw off Masahiko’s rhythm throughout much of it, but Harada continued to come forward with different looks, essentially throwing 🎯darts up at the board and hoping that something would ultimately stick.
After much trial and error, Harada would eventually find something, as he had his moment in round 10 when he caught Famechon with a overhand right counter shot (finally snuck it in), and Famechon’s glove touched the canvas. Harada continued with his barrage of punches as Referee 🕴️Nick Pope was very reluctant, electing not to step in until nearly 10 seconds later in egregious error, to administer the 8-count.
Famechon was fine of course, but there was a momentum shift that took place at this point as the Japanese crowd erupted. A left hook from Famechon caused a delayed reaction knockdown in the 12th round. Harada got up and tried to work himself back in the fight while Famechon was trying to time him coming in to capitalize on the momentum started. The spirit of the contest intensified from this point onward.
It appeared that this bout would once again go the full distance…that is until the 🛎️14th round when everything fell apart for the Japanese fighter of legend. Famechon let off 2 killer left hooks that took Harada’s legs and cognition away, and Famechon threw multiple 💣bombs while Harada’s back was to the ropes, reduced helpless, facing all heaps of trouble.
Harada was given a standing-8 count since the ropes held him up, but it seemed as if only the body was there for Harada, not the head – a car without an engine of sorts. Harada was groggy after the count was administered, and Famechon smelled 🦈🩸blood in the water. Harada could barely stand up straight, bulldozing his way straight forward trying to hold on. After a clinch, Famechon ran in, and fired 5 left hooks in a row that torpedoed him through the middle ropes, and was knocked out of the ring and laid out on the ring apron.
A valiant brave warrior he was, Harada spun himself inside of the rope and tried to beat out the count. He was in no condition to continue, and the Ref waived it off, and a celebratory Famechon basked in his great acocmplishment, defeating the legend without controversy this time, to defend his ♛LINEAL/WBA/WBC Undisputed Championship standing of the Featherweight division, cementing his positioning.
The crowd was shocked and upset to see their fighter Harada taken out that way. There were a few bad seeds that were in attendance who threw what looked to be 🍊oranges towards center ring, assuming Famechon to be the target of this callous act carried out by a small contingent. As a boxer, this would be the last time that they would ever see their National hero enter the ring with 🥊🥊boxing gloves on.
A CAREER REFLECTION FOR MR. HARADA
Fighting Harada may have fallen just a little short in achieving his ultimate goal of becoming a Triple-Crown winner, nonetheless he put together an eventful, historic run in his short tenure at the top of the sport. Harada would retire after his KO loss to Johnny Famechon, deciding to walk away from the sport at the early age of 27 years old.
Upon his retirement at that juncture, Harada had established himself as the best Japanese fighter of all-time, and put together a surefire Hall-of-Fame type of career that was later recognized by boxing pundits and publications, as he was cast into the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame in 1995.
The best of the best can heavily influence the next generations greatest talent, and one of Harada’s biggest admirers growing up was 👑🇵🇷Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, who would rise up to become his generations best fighter for some time. Gomez revealed that Harada was his Chief idol, and you could see many similarities between Harada and Gomez when you cast both of their skill-sets under the proverbial 🔬microscope.
Masahiko Harada also established himself as one of the greatest Bantamweight Champions of all time, and never cheated the sport with his efforts, always sticking his neck out to give 120% to the sport, and to the fighters that stood across from him when the opening 🔔bell sounded…a legend indeed.
A TIMESKIP TO THE FUTURE, HIS LEGACY, AND THE BRIDGING OF GENERATIONS
With Harada’s active heir apparent 🇯🇵Naoya “The Monster” Inoue 🔥burning his way through boxing’s current climate, it is a pleasure to see the relationship Harada in present time has formed with Inoue, and serves as a wonderful 🔗linkage between a past legend and a young destructive force.
(HARADA PASSING INOUE THE MUHAMMAD ALI TROPHY)
With Harada being the President of the Japanese Boxing Association, Inoue, along with other generational greats from the last couple of eras have benefited greatly, and have been very fortunate to have someone with the guidance, wisdom and great personal boxing pedigree to help aid them on their personal journeys as he oversees their plight from the big chair on the Executive side.
Mr. Harada’s greatness didn’t just end when he finished his pro career at the age of 🗓️27, it instead has carried over nearly 50 years later in his life as he has done a fantastic job of keeping the sport clean and upholding its tradition on Japanese soil. As for his own storied career in the squared circles when he had the gloves on, here are a list of his accomplishments during his time in the boxing ring. 🖼️
– 2X Undisputed World Champion (Flyweight|Bantamweight)
– 2X Lineal World Champion (1962-1963 | 1965-1968)
– 2-Division World Champion (Flyweight, Bantamweight)
– 5X World Champion (RING/WBA/WBC Titles)
– Won 6 Title Fights in his Career
– Won 6 Lineal World Title Contests
– 4 Wins Against Lineal Champions
– 2 Wins Against 1 Hall-of-Fame Inductee (Eder Jofre)
– Idolized by Future Great 👑🇵🇷Wilfredo Gomez
– Arguably the Greatest Bantamweight of All-Time
– The Greatest Retired Japanese Fighter in Boxing History
– International Boxing Hall-of-Fame (Inducted in 1995)
SIGNATURE MOMENT – Defeating legendary Brazilian undefeated fighter 👑🇧🇷Eder Jofre in their 1st encounter in what was a classic bout in the Bantamweight division.
NOTABLE WINS – 👑🇧🇷Eder Jofre (2X), 👑🇹🇭Pone Kingpetch, 🇬🇧Alan Rudkin, 🇨🇴Bernardo Caraballo, 👑🇯🇵Hiroyuki Ebihara, 🇲🇽Jose Medel…highly controversial loss to 👑🇹🇭Pone Kingpetch in their re-match, debatable loss to 👑🇫🇷🇦🇺Johnny Famechon in their first fight.