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Joichiro Tatsuyoshi


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One of the most popular Japanese fighters in his era and country, Tatsuyoshi has won the WBC title at bantamweight twice and defeated fighters like Greg Richardson, Paulie Ayala, Sirimongkol Singwancha and Victor Rabanales and has also had his share of devastating losses, among others to Rabanales himself. He peaked early and was the fastest world title-winning Japanese boxer in his time, so, his peak time also faded quite early. He was a never say die fighter who had power in his fists and loved a good war. However, the emergence of Veeraphol Sahaprom on the bantam scene cut his time as a champion and contender there short.

Joichiro Tatsuyoshi was born on 15 May 1970 in Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan. His father was a boxing fan and began training his son while he was still a toddler. After middle school, Tatsuyoshi moved to Osaka to begin his boxing career at 17, also working part time in a restaurant to make money. He won the national amateur championship at bantamweight, the division where he would fight his entire life. However, he was unable to qualify for the 1988 Olympics and so had no better choice but to turn pro. He did that on 29 September 1989, with a KO2-victory over Sang Myun Choi. After winning 5 straight fights by ko, he drew against Abraham Torres in February 1991 and then beat Ray Paciones by UD10. In only his 8th pro fight, he was given a fight for the WBC title against Greg Richardson, who was the champion from USA. Richardson aka "The Flea" was known as a good technician, but the young Tatsuyoshi beat him into submission and forced him to retire after 10 rounds, 19 September in Osaka. Thus, he became the fastest Japanese boxer to win a world title. 

However, he would experience bitter defeat in his first defence against Victor Rabanales of Mexico, whose body attack became too much for the young Tatsuyoshi and eventually, Rabanales stopped him by TKO in round 9. That was on 17 September 1992 and after one easy win, Tatsuyoshi signed for a rematch which happened 22 July 1993, again in Osaka. However, in the meantime Rabanales had lost his title and the one they were fighting for this time was the interim WBC one. After 12 hard rounds, Joichiro got his revenge as he won by a split decision. On 4 December next year, he took on the compatriot Yasuei Yakushijii, who now held the "real" WBC title. Yakushijii was based in Nagoya, so the fight took place there. It was a close fight but YY was by far the more experienced and slightly more polished fighter and in the end he retained his title with a close majority decision. 

It seemed now that the early promise he had shown and success he had achieved was brief and had faded away. On 3 March 1996, he fought Daniel Zaragoza, a future hall of famer, for the WBC super bantam title. The fight was in Yokohama, a suburb of Tokyo, and Tatsuyoshi got stopped due to cuts in the 11th. After also losing the rematch next year, on points, he went back down to 118. On 22 November 1997, he took on the young Thai WBC champion, Sirimongkol Singwancha, in Osaka Hall. Early on, Singwancha controlled the fight with his jab, but in round 5 the two started trading and JT put him down with a jab. Singwancha seemed to be tiring now, but he came back in the next round, however Tatsuyoshi nailed him with a body shot in round 7 that put him down and then stopped him with a follow up attack. It was a fabulous comeback victory for Tatsuyoshi! 

Next year, he made his first defence by beating Jose Rafael Sosa by UD in March and then took on Paulie Ayala, the future WBA-champion, who was 25-0, for his second. The fight was staged in Yokohama again, 23 August, and Ayala butted the champion in round 5 and was taken a point for it. It affected the outcome of the fight, as it had to be stopped at the end of round 6 and Tatsuyoshi took home the technical decision victory. Even though he was far enough ahead anyway that one point wouldn't have made any difference. And then, on 29 December that same 1998, he faced the man who would prove to be his undoing: Veeraphol Sahaprom of Thailand. The two fought at Yokohama Arena and after an even fight, Tatsuyoshi got knocked down in round 6 and as he got up he was battered until the stoppage came, only 8 seconds before the end of the round. To make matters worse, shortly after this fight, his father passed away.

He still pursued a rematch with Sahaprom, despite the devastating knockout which left him unconscious after the referee stoppage. This time, the fight was in Osaka, 29 August 1999 and Tatsuyoshi suddenly appeared an aged fighter. He was thoroughly dominated and beaten up until the referee Richard Steele ended the fight early in round 7. Upon the stoppage, Tatsuyoshi fainted. This made him retire from the sport, also for medical reasons. He came back after 3 years however and won his comeback fight on 15 December 2002 by impressive TKO 6 against the 44-1 Somchai Chertchai. Next year, he beat Julio Cesar Avila on points, before retiring again. He came back one last time in 2008 and scored his last win, fighting in Thailand, when he stopped a minor fighter called Parakorn Charoendee, by TKO2 . On 8 March came his last fight, also in Thailand, where he was stopped by TKO 7 against Sakai Jockgym. 

His record is 20 wins with 14 knockouts, 7 losses and 1 draw. He now works as a boxing commentator on Japanese TV and his son Juiki became a pro boxer in 2015 and is currently still undefeated with a record of 13-0-1. JT always held a special place in that boxing nation Japan's heart and his determination to always keep coming back and succeeding is quite admirable. His achievements speak for themselves, while he has had his share of losses, most of them came due to his inexperience and not exactly being a technically clever type fighter. However, had he been that, he probably wouldn't be as popular. 


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