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Daisuke Naito-Late Bloomer


BoztheMadman
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Daisuke Naito was a fabulous boxer who has had to go the long road to success. His main problem was that he had to be in the same division as one of the p4p best technicians and boxers of this century: Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. After experiencing two losses to him, one by first round ko, he finally got the better of Wonjongkam in their rubber match and became the WBC flyweight champion. Unfortunately, he would ultimately lose this title by a controversial decision to Koki Kameda, after which he soon retired. 

One of few boxing champions to come from the island of Hokkaido in the north of Japan, Naito was born 30 August 1974 in Toyoura, a coastal town. He became a pro in 1996, standing 5'4 or 163 cm and with a good reach of 68 1/2 or 174 cm. Being a talented technician who also carried a good punch, Naito went 18-0-1 before drawing against Takefumi Sakata in a fight for the Japanese flyweight title in July 2001. He then went to Thailand to fight the WBC champion Wonjongkam for the first time on 19 April 2002 and was knocked out in only 34 seconds with one punch! It was rare that Wonjongkam scored such victories, to add to the "unluckiness factor". After this embarrassing loss, he went back to fighting on national level for a while. In June 2004, he won the Japanese title against Hiroshi Nakano, by a technical decision in 6. In his next fight, a non-title one, he scored the fastest ko in a Japanese bout when he dispatched Takeyuki Kojima in only 24 seconds! He then challenged Wonjongkam again, this time at home in Korakuen Hall, 10 October 2005, but the fight was stopped due to an eye injury after 7 rounds and all three judges had the champion from Thailand ahead by 68-64. 

Having been denied again, he won the Oriental and Pacific title by stopping Noriyuki Komatsu by TKO6 on 27 June 2006. On 18 July next year, he was given yet another chance by the generous Wonjongkam and this time he would finally win against the 65-2 legend who was making his 18th title defence. The fight was again at Korakuen Hall and Naito got a rather close but unanimous decision win, thus becoming the first man to defeat Wonjongkam in over a decade! He made his first defence only 3 months later on 11 October, when he outboxed the much younger Daiki Kameda in a fight where Kameda retorted to wrestling tactics, but was simply outclassed. Naito was victorious by wide scores. He then decided to return the favour and give Wonjongkam a fight, their fourth and final, which happened on 8 March 2008 in Kokukigan, Japan. It ended a split draw and Naito retained his title for the second time. He then scored his first knockout in a title defence when he stopped Tomonobu Shimizu by KO10. Also his next, fourth defence, ended with a stoppage, a TKO11 against Shingo Yamaguchi. 

In May 2009 however, he showed signs of slowing down as he was down against the unknown Chaozhong Xiong of China and escaped with a rather narrow UD. Both guys were also cut by accidental butts and Zhong lost two points and Naito one because of that. He then lost his title in his sixth defence against the 12 years younger Koki Kameda, on 29 November same year. It was a true barnburner of a fight and the two traded punches constantly, but Kameda was a little more effective with his counter punches, while Naito seemed to close best but was unable to put Kameda away and so lost by a too-wide UD. Many observers thought the scores were unfairly wide in Kameda's favour, as the fight had been very close. Naito would go up to super flyweight for his final bout against Phaiboon Chumthong of Thailand, which he won by KO5, 9 May 2010 at Korakuen Hall. He was now headed towards his 36th birthday and chose to retire, with a record of 36 wins, 3 losses and 3 draws, having scored 23 knockouts. 

It is really curious how his first loss came about, since it remained his only knockout loss, but Wonjongkam WAS a magician in his best days. Naito was good enough to beat Wonjongkam when the latter was at the end of his peak, but still far from washed up. However, he had wasted too many of his best years trying to win that big title and he also turned pro at the age of 27, which especially in Japan is late. Considering all that, he has really had quite a career. Today he works as a commentator. 

DaisukeNaito.jpg

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