Fighting Harada, The Thread.

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by George Crowcroft, Jun 13, 2021.

Who Beats Him?

  1. Ruben Olivares

    100.0%
  2. Manuel Ortiz

    14.3%
  3. Panama Al Brown

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Chucho Castillo

    14.3%
  5. Rafael Herrera

    14.3%
  6. Carlos Zarate

    71.4%
  7. Lupe Pintor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. Orlando Canizales

    14.3%
  9. Other (State Who)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. None of the Above

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft 'Snarky Little Gobshite' - IntentionalButt Full Member

    22,841
    33,605
    Mar 3, 2019
    Fighting Harada 55(22)-7(2)-0

    Turning pro at 16, Masahiko had virtually no amateur career. He was a young prodigy in Japan, and he learnt his trade on the way up. His explosive talent at flyweight led to early wins over an equally young Hiroyuki Ebihara - a great fighter in his ownr right; one who'd make my top fifteen flyweights; but not a great win due to where Ebihara was in his career (think Duran-Marcel or Johnson-Choynski) - and led to a title winning effort vs near-ATG, Pone Kingpetch. In a performance which rivals any at flyweight in terms of viciousness and devastation, Harada beat Kingpetch in the eleventh. Kingpetch did what he tended to, and won a close, controversial decision in a rematch.

    After the loss, Harada moved up to bantamweight. At first, it was likely viewed as unsuccessful, given his knockout loss to counter-punching wizard Jose Medel came in his first six months of fighting at 118. Shortly after, he beat the third member of the 'Three Crows', Katsutoshi Aoki, in a short rendition of world war three. After taking Aoki's 'megaton' punch (Ebihara had his' razor' punch), Harada flatlined him with a real peach of an overhand right.

    After earning his title shot at bantamweight, he grabbed it with both hands, vs the undeniable legend and ring immortal, Eder Jofre. Harada won a close, but clear, decision over Jofre in Japan. After winning the title, you'd expect a soft touch before a rematch maybe but no, Harada fought the then British and Commonwealth champion, Alan Rudkin. Harada won a close decision, which is pretty controversial - but no shame there, as Al' is one of the best BW contenders ever, and one tough mutha****er. He beat Jofre in a rematch, Medel in a rematch, and then beat another historically great contender in Bernardo Caraballo before dropping a decision to a Lionel Rose to relinquish his title.

    Despite only being 24 at this point, Harada had been fading quite quickly, and it shows in the amount of hard fights he had vs elite opposition. The wars with Jofre, Medel, Rudkin, etc; had started to take their toll, and like both Jofre before and Rose thereafter, the constant struggle of dragging their growing bodies down to 118 to was hurting their performances. After Harada lost, he moved up to featherweight in search of another Aussie talent. He found one; Johnny Famechon. Fammo was a very talented fighter, but in his first fight with Harada, he got awful lucky. The bias referee, Willie Pep, was calling KDs slips for Harada and slips KDs for Fammo. The decision was embarrassing and the bias for Fammo was so obvious with Pep being friends with his dad, that's it embarrassing. The rematch was a clean win, but a tainted one given that Harada was pretty much done by that point.

    Overall, Harada's career is legendary. He was undisputed champ, having beaten genuinely great fighters for their titles, in two historically deep divisions - and was robbed of being the only man to win the flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight titles - not to mention a win over a high quality fighter. His wins over Kingpetch, Medel, Caraballo and Rudkin are excellent, especially Medel and Kingpetch, but his wins over Jofre are legendary. Being the best bantamweight and flyweight in two very, very stacked divisions, is very impressive IMO.

    If we're talking numbers, I'd likely have Harada around forty at flyweight, top five at bantam, and as highly ranked as top thirty, pound-for-pound.
     
  2. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft 'Snarky Little Gobshite' - IntentionalButt Full Member

    22,841
    33,605
    Mar 3, 2019
    I mentioned in the OP how I disagree with Harada's idea that he was the least talented of the 'three crows'. In his teen years, it's clear that Harada was unnaturally explosive. He had incredibly fast hands and feet, and stamina for days - although his lack of dedication between fights led to some fading late, but not at his absolutely peak. His power reminds me a little of Kid Gavilan or Ken Buchanan, at times. He had all of the aspects to a great puncher, except power. He threw with massive amounts of spite, at breakneck speed with great technique, and sat on most of his shots. He just didn't have much power, at all. He could still hurt you, but it'd be an accumulation, or a combination that did it. He had a granite chin, though. You don't swarm Jose Medel and Eder Jofre, if you don't.

    There's a few key differences between Harada at flyweight and bantamweight. The main two are experience and physicality. He lacked the craft and ring IQ he'd later develop up at BW. And in fairness, I don't think it's directly correlates with moving up. I think it's got more to do with the loss to Medel, where he focussed on becoming less predictable and more elusive. As he got more mature, he got more defensively responsible and skilled, offensively. However, Harada was far more physical at flyweight than he was at BW. And he was plenty physical at BW. He was really a natural bantamweight, anyway, as he was struggling to make 112 before he even turned 20. The lack of discipline between fights would have contributed to this as well, but he filled out and moved up at a very young age. Even still, he was an Armstrong-esque force of nature at flyweight. Absolutely bullish, and it carried up to BW.

    Another difference I noticed at flyweight, which I never really saw again, was that Harada shifted stances quite often vs Kingpetch. Very effective for closing the gap, but it was later replaced by one of the most unique and effective methods of closing the gap I've seen. Harada has often been criticized for wasting energy by being too 'bouncy'. When most fighters bounce up and down from foot to foot, it is just a waste of energy but not when Harada did it. Harada shuffled forward ever so slightly when he hopped, and this really messed with perfectionist fighters whose judgement of range was bob on. Keep in mind, Harada hopped a lot. Imagine being in there with someone, working them into your wheelhouse and as soon as you find the opportunity for the perfect counter, you find that they're four or five inches closer than you were expecting and now you haven't gotten any power in your punch. It really messed with Jofre and, when he implemented it in the rematch, Medel, too. Harada's footwork was just brilliant, all-round. The shifting and 'hopping' are impressive aspects, but the positioning he used to set up his punches is incredible. Just look at how he put himself in place to set up his lead hook to the body, or how he changed his stance slightly, making it more bladed, to set up his straight right hand.

    He wasn't just a face first swarmer, he had a good defence. He nullified jabs with a standard back-hand parry, which allowed him to return fire with his own jab without much effort. He had an incredible sense of distance of his own, his footwork and slight neckrolls made punches almost sidle of him. He had good head-movement in a more flashy sense as well. He could get under shots, bob and weave, and take his head off the centre line, but the head slots he used were pretty hard to get to anyway, and his slight defence was more than enough. He was extremely adept at getting out of trouble as well. He learnt this invaluable skill after the first Medel fight, and it's on full display in their rematch. Medel hurt Harada in the fifteenth round, and Harada showed great movement and use of the jab to deny Medel finishing him off.

    It's hard to talk about Harada with talking about his jab. It generally avoids the weakness that some great jabs do, because he had plenty of variation in his jab. Fast, heavy, pawing or probing, he was very unpredictable with his lead. And there would be triple, or even quadruple jabs coming at you. Not just one or two. He could probe it and control the elite of the elite in a similar way to Duran, or he could step in with it in a heavy, thudding, aggressive way like Kovalev. He jabs his way in with it better than anyone ever, and the constant handwork he employed led to opening up guards of more reluctant fighters, and the non-stop jabbing opened fighters up who were more inclined to try and counter it. He also threw a nasty jab to the body vs Kingpetch. It's one of the finest jabs you'll ever see.

    I don't want to paint Harada as the perfect fundamental paradigm, who you'll never see put a foot wrong. He wasn't. He could be very scrappy, and very intuitive. He could often revert back to the messy brawler you could see at one twelve, primarily in the late rounds and he abandons a lot of his strengths. The fight with Caraballo especially could've been a much easier night if he'd stook to his skills and given a more surgical performance. Caraballo was a very tricky operator, but I never got the feeling he should be holding fighters like Harada to contentious decisions. When you're as aggressive as Harada, it can lead to some bad moments. The Medel fights, for instance.

    Harada was a brutal finisher, though. He wasn't ever going lightly, either. Once he had you hurt, he was going for it. In the early rounds of their first fight, he wobbled Jofre and launched a full-on assault looking to take him out. Sure, he didn't get the stoppage, but you can see the mindset on display in full flow. The Aoki fight is one where you'll see how brutal he could be. In terms of heart, just look at him vs Rose and Fammo. Down on the cards, frustrated by their styles, what does he do? He says **** it, and doubles down on pure aggression.

    Head-to-head, he's probably top three in one of the best divisions ever, and he'd by my number one at flyweight.
     
  3. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft 'Snarky Little Gobshite' - IntentionalButt Full Member

    22,841
    33,605
    Mar 3, 2019
    My thoughts on these match-ups:

    Ruben Olivares
    Harada and Olivares would produce an all-time great war, with an dynamic battler meeting an offensive power house. As mentioned, straight shots seemed to slide off Harada, but luckily for Olivares, he specialised in hooks. The two-way left-hand work in this fight would be off the charts. Harada's speed and bodywork would definitely get to Olivares at times, and he'd likely be up on points. But I just can't see Harada attacking Olivares endlessly without being KTFO'd. That's what it comes down to in this one.

    Manuel Ortiz
    This would be another great fight. Manuel seems like an incredible infighter, and was undeniably a tough mutha****er with good dig. In the trenches, he doesn't seem like a fun night out. Harada would be able to meet that though, and he'd have doing so. I reckon the jab and hand-speed advantage that Harada has would be the difference. He'd get off first and control most exchanges. Great fight, and a close decision for Harada.

    Panama Al Brown
    Brown was such a difficult fighter to broach, but it seemed hat pressure fighters are what troubled him most. Harada's jab and foot-speed, as well as strength and workrate would be come out on top of Brown's long frame and prototypical Panamanian slickster style.

    Chucho Castillo
    I think Castillo would win. He was an incredible counter-puncher who loved to feed the cross-counter over the jab, and was both stronger than Harada and incredibly comfortable fighting off the ropes. His jab was monstrous. If Harada's was an Epee, then Chucho's was a battering ram. Harada could well out-work Chucho, but I tend to think that Castillo's stylistic advantages would lead to a fight that favours Chuhco. Harada would give everyone their money's worth, but Chucho would walk away with the 'W', IMO. I find it hard to see Harada attacking effectively enough to win vs someone so good, when he's being pushed back or countered off the ropes. I think Chucho is all wrong for him, and that these two are the two most skilled bantamweights ever.

    Rafael Herrera
    Harada seems awful for Herrera. I could see it actually being a little like the Kingpetch rematch, where Herrera comes on late as Harada fades from trying to take him out, but I think it'd be like the first Kingpetch fight and Herrera succumbs to the frantic, suffocating pressure.

    Carlos Zarate
    Zarate is the sort of fighter who Harada should lose to, but his success vs Jofre and Medel gives me pause. He handled Jofre's power well, and used his sweet defence to make his straight shots sail past him. Zarate was a great ring general, but not as good as Jofre, who wasn't as good at it as Harada. I think Zarate eventually puts together the punches to get the KO, but his struggles with Pintor and Harada's success vs Jofre lead me to believe that Harada has every chance of winning. Zarate would freak out a little bit when he found his space constantly vanishing.

    Lupe Pintor
    I wholeheartedly believe that this would be one of the best fights ever, but that Harada was just a class above Pintor. Some sweet skills on display, but Harada's jab wins most rounds and his faster hands wins most exchanges. Pintor is out-classed here IMO.

    Orlando Canziales
    I think Harada's 'hopping' really messes with Canizales, and his jab and strength starts to ruin his momentum. If Harada piles on pressure and imposes himself on Canizales physically, he'd win going away IMO. Canziales would have all sorts of issues at mid/long-range, and then wouldn't have much room to work up close. I doubt he would, though. He'd likely just keep Canizales moving backwards, missing and on the end of that jab It'd be a beautiful fight.

    :deal:
     
  4. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft 'Snarky Little Gobshite' - IntentionalButt Full Member

    22,841
    33,605
    Mar 3, 2019
    I ended up picking FH because he's one of those guys who you just can't dislike. I have a signed photo, and can honestly say that he's one of my all-time favourite fighters. As soon as he was mentioned, and I saw @scartissue's post in the scorecard thread (on the first Kingpetch fight), I knew who I wanted to do it on.

    Harada > Jmm
     
  5. Kamikaze

    Kamikaze Stud Pony Full Member

    2,492
    2,700
    Oct 12, 2020
    Fighting Harada was as excellently well rounded as you could get. He had very few chinks in his armour besides his courage he would tempt fate a lot but always had the chin to laugh at lady luck. By my card he beat Rose and of course there's the two fights he is owed against Pone and Fammo. FH is 58-4 in my books. His record looks as great on paper as it is does when you dissect it and look for context you really cannot pick apart his career.
     
  6. CST80

    CST80 De Omnibus Dubitandum: Reject The New Normal Staff Member

    178,898
    116,424
    Nov 23, 2013
    Eder Jofre vs. Fighting Harada I


    Eder Jofre vs Fighting Harada II


    Lionel Rose vs Fighting Harada


    Joe Medel vs. Fighting Harada I


    Fighting Harada vs Johnny Famechon
     
    George Crowcroft likes this.
  7. CST80

    CST80 De Omnibus Dubitandum: Reject The New Normal Staff Member

    178,898
    116,424
    Nov 23, 2013
    Johnny Famechon v Fighting Harada II


    Fighting Harada vs. Pone Kingpetch I


    Fighting Harada vs Bernardo Caraballo
     
    George Crowcroft likes this.
  8. ChrisJS

    ChrisJS Well-Known Member Full Member

    2,295
    4,600
    Sep 11, 2018
    Harada didn’t really lack discipline between fights. He was a titan. He had a busy schedule and trained like a demon but he had/has a sweet tooth and this caused his weight to fluctuate. Harada ran 10 miles a day!! He realized the important of being able to bounce on his feet, move quickly, and launch attacks from different angles. Strong legs that he built up carrying 100 pounds bags of rice as a teenager. He was crude when he fought Kingpetch but his spirit and energy was almost impossible to cope with. He was intimidated by the atmosphere in the rematch. Fans gave him a terrible welcome, made it impossible for him to get to the ring so he was rattled. Then the heat and weight drain slowed him as you’ll see he’s getting timed and schooled a bit late on. He didn’t complain about the decision but he was robbed IMO. He never complained about decisions. I asked him if he regrets going to Thailand and Australia and being robbed abroad and he said no. He said “I gave my best and you can’t change the results” but he said he was happy people enjoyed his performances especially in Australia. He didn’t expect the locals to side with him. He said he still watches his own fights today and he’s impressed by the amount of punches he’d throw.

    Harada’s style wasn’t built for the long run. It was 100 miles per hour in training and in the ring. He was all aggression so those guys never last but he got a lot of quality into his time. He learned from being outboxed by Esparza, then he learned from Kingpetch II and Medel I especially. By the Caraballo fight he was really having a hard time getting the weight off. The Rose loss some people in Japan think he deserved that but I don’t. I think Rose fought a brilliant fight. It’s believed that the Japanese were trying to force him out of bantamweight so they’d get an all Japanese featherweight bout with Shozo Saijo. In Japan the common thought is that he was a little lucky in fight I with Jofre but that the second fight was his. Harada says “Jofre is the best boxer of all-time” he absolutely loves him. Says he is a total gentleman. Those fights were really high quality in skill, momentum changes. The first one especially.

    Harada was a little burned out I feel by the time he got to featherweight. He surprised everyone by getting the better of Famechon in the first match. There had been a very clear loss to Alton Colter. Colter simply used his height and reach to box Harada, out jabbing him. Colter was something like 5 10. Although not a great fighter, a style nightmare.

    Harada really shined in his biggest fights. Jofre twice, Kingpetch twice, Medel rematch, even the Ebihara match which was a rookie tournament which got a lot of publicity. I believe without question Harada is Japan’s greatest, probably second only to Pacquaio in Asia and probably in the top 40 boxers of all-time. Two guys I rank below him all-time which you list in your mythical matches I would pick to beat him however - Zarate and Olivares. The Zarate who was robbed vs. Pintor was already weight drained and past prime. He had little motivation at that point. The Harada who beat Jofre has a shot with that Zarate but the Zarate from Zamora, Martinez, Davila I don’t think so. That’s when he was at his absolute peak. Olivares also could lose to Harada on a certain night but best vs. best, I’ll say Ruben gets the win but he’d need to be at his best.
     
  9. Young Terror

    Young Terror 2013 Poster Of The Year Full Member

    4,147
    893
    May 9, 2012
    Harada was amazing hes the best japanese fighter ever and the second best from Asia behind Pac . I love watching him fight.

    Him vs Fenech would be Wow im drooling just thinking about it . The same with him versus Chocolatito at Fly that would be a gorgeous war and one of the more well fought fight ever.

    Great thread.
     
  10. Bujia

    Bujia Active Member Full Member

    1,452
    2,205
    Jul 2, 2020
    I don't see how anyone could score the Rose fight for him. I thought Rose thoroughly out-boxed him.
     
  11. Kamikaze

    Kamikaze Stud Pony Full Member

    2,492
    2,700
    Oct 12, 2020
    It has been a while. I scored it in favour of Rose by the notes I am reading but have a journal entry with a card for Harada I suppose It needs a re-watch I just remember Rose getting outworked despite landing the harder shots.
     
  12. ChrisJS

    ChrisJS Well-Known Member Full Member

    2,295
    4,600
    Sep 11, 2018
    Yes, I had Rose winning by about three rounds. Close, but clear.
     
  13. Clinton

    Clinton Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    18,023
    3,686
    Jan 22, 2009
    Greatness
     
    ChrisJS likes this.
  14. From.Russia

    From.Russia Boxing Addict Full Member

    3,226
    804
    Jul 15, 2013
    Great thread! I like Classic boxing forum more and more.

    You mentioned Panama Al Brown, and the book about him was one of my first reads. If i remember correctly, he was drinking champagne between the rounds, haha.
     
    Clinton and ChrisJS like this.
  15. McGrain

    McGrain Diamond Dog Staff Member

    93,529
    13,893
    Mar 21, 2007
    I liked reading those posts, but this was the line that caught my eye.

    Harada was 27-1 the last time he fought at 112lbs, a fight he lost to Pone Kingpetch, some people don't like that result. But Pone was about as fragile as an ATG great boxer gets, in terms of his stride and arguably literally. He did twenty-five rounds with this Harada and managed to pip him in a fight. 1-1 with Pone is also his record against ranked guys at this weight I think.

    Harada also had a booming loss in his immediate future, up at bantamweight.

    It always felt like Harada's prime was a championship prime. His second fight with Jofre wasn't controversial in the way the first one was so it feels to me like 1965 to his leaving the division, genuinely elite on film, clearly Medel's superior, avenging that earlier loss.

    This means that you've got pre-prime Harada as the single best flyweight in history.

    Despite the fact that he only fought one ranked guy at that weight. I'm feeling like I've mis-understood this? Harada clearly learned a lesson from Medel and was improved as a result (Chris's book just covered this off for me). If you feel Harada is the best ever flyweight, talk about that a bit?
     
    Greg Price99 likes this.