Written by Tré Berry III
On this date, January 6th, 1970, reigning RING/WBC World Featherweight Champion Johnny Famechon (54-4-6, 20KO👊) of France (by way of Australia), would seek to defend his title against legendary Japanese former 2-division RING Champion, Masahiko “Fighting” Harada (55-6-0, 22KO👊), seeking to become a true “Triple-Crown winner” after winning Titles at ⚖️112, and 118 lbs.
Fighting Harada’s previous encounter against Famechon was arguably the most entertaining one of his career, though it wasn’t in the cards for him (pun intended, given legendary boxer-turned-Referee 🇺🇸Willie Pep’s role as the lone scorer in changing his draw, to a victory for Famechon). Fortunately on Harada’s behalf however, after netting a rebound victory over Filipino Journeyman Pat Gonzales, Fighting Harada would get his re-match next against 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 that was to aggressively push forward, and make a war of it – his customary method of operating. Famechon wanted to tie him up early with some rough-house tactics to take away all opportunities for Harada to work inside of his reach, as that was where he had the advantage.
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 Champion, Johnny Famechon’s 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.
FIGHTING HARADA IN GREEN TRUNKS, AND JOHNNY 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 bout 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 Harada 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 accomplishment, defeating the legend without controversy this time, to defend his ♛RING/WBC World 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 Harada enter the ring with boxing gloves on.