Former 160lb dangerman continues unlikely heavyweight campaign
By Michael J Jones
APRIL 2011 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, undefeated puncher James Kirkland returns to the ring from a stint in jail to take on the unknown, light-hitting Nobuhiro Ishida over eight rounds. Ishida is a former interim WBA holder at 154lbs and has only once previously fought outside of his home country of Japan. Kirkland has been destroying all in his path and is expected to do precisely the same against his supposedly mis-matched opponent.
Just under a minute into the fight, the taller Japanese fighter lands a short left hand which floors the Texan to the shock of the crowd. At 1:52 of the opening session the fight is waved over after a third trip to the canvas as the jubilant Ishida scores arguably the upset of the year.
While Kirkland regrouped and has gone on to win all five bouts since his lone reverse, the three-and-a half years since that shocker has been somewhat different for Nobuhiro Ishida…
On December 27th in his home city of Osaka, Japan, the now 39 year old Ishida engaged in his latest fight in his new chosen weight division. Having turned pro as a Junior middleweight (after being an amateur flyweight), the 6’1” Ishida is now a full heavyweight where he scored win number 27 with a stoppage of Japanese trier Kotatsu Takehara.
After suffering defeats following his blast out of Kirkland to the likes of Paul Williams and current middleweight king Gennady Golovkin, Ishida took the decision to pile on some 40lbs to make a comeback in the highest division where he has now won three and lost one since his heavyweight debut earlier this year.
Against the heavier Takehara, the former 154 pounder carried the extra weight well at 203lbs and still has the same tenacious and busy style. His plodding opponent gave it a go but, after shipping some decent punches (and a few head clashes), was soon marking up.
At just 10-10-3, it’s safe to say Takehara was probably a little out of his limited depth but he tried his best and caught the favourite with a few good shots here and there. At the end of the fourth, the tiring and bloody Takehara survived another inspection from the ringside doctor. Knowing he was close to being halted, he opened up for the last twenty seconds as the two men ended the fight toe-to-toe.
The badly cut bruiser was then pulled out as Ishida moves to 27-10-2 (11) with his third bout of 2014. The victor’s only defeat in his new division was to the Japanese heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto who won a close decision in April.
A return match with the eleven-years-younger Fujimoto, who also holds wins over decent opposition in Chauncy Welliver and Peter Okhello, with the Japanese title on the line must surely now be the goal for Ishida who turns 40 next year.
Knowledgeable fight fans will have sympathy with Ishida in his near 15 year fight career. Between his unanimous decision win over Venezuelan Marco Antonio Avendano in 2009 to become the WBA interim holder and his 2012 points loss to Paul “The Punisher” Williams he would see bouts with Daniel Santos, Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto all fail to materialise.
Instead he would face Williams after almost a year’s inactivity, travel to Russia to lose to Dmitry Pirog before facing then WBA and IBO ruler Golovkin in Monte Carlo to suffer his only knock-out loss as a pro.
Outside the ring, Ishida has helped hundreds of children through his continued help with orphanages. He didn’t turn pro until he was 25 because of his advanced education in social welfare and work with orphans. Legend has it that living with abandoned and isolated children is what motivated the big-hearted fighter to finally pursue his pro boxing career after a break from competitive boxing.
Relive Ishida’s stunning victory over Kirkland-