When KO Artist World Champions Got Iced: Morris East and the Biggest Title Winning Upset Knockout Victories by Filipino Fighters (Second of Two Installments)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Wed, 20 Oct 2021
Continuing with the top five World title Winning Upset knockout victories by underdog Filipino fighters as challengers:
3. ROLANDO PASCUA KO 6 HUMBERTO CHIQUITA GONZALEZ, WBC Light Flyweight Championship, December 9, 1992, Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California
By 1992, Mexican Humberto Gonzalez was an eight year veteran pro boxer, half of which time already a celebrated world champion as WBC light flyweight titleholder. Still undefeated, he had already notched 30 straight ring victories, 24 by knockout, earning the moniker Little Hand of Stone after Roberto Duran.
Winning the world title in 1988 by outpointing South Korean Yul Woo Lee in his first overseas fight in Seoul, he had previously defended it five times, including another points win over another South Korean legend Chang Jung Koo in his first defense. Gonzales defeated his next four challengers by knockout.
Entering his sixth title defense on the evening of December 9, 1992 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, USA, Gonzalez was therefore the heavy favorite against his little known Filipino challenger Rolando Pascua.
Pascua, from Talisay, Cebu then had a ring record of 24-5, 13 by KO. Though he enjoyed three inch advantage in height over Gonzalez, the Mexican had one inch edge in reach. But that did not usually work for Gonzalez as typically he charged the opponent, throwing bombs at him until he falls or the final bell rings.
Pascua would take advantage of that chink in Gonzalez armor as he stood his ground and elected to trade leather with the stockily-built Mexican champion, using his height advantage to potshot Chiquita and tying him up whenever he got dangerously close.
Pascua (L) and Gonzalez during their world title fight in 1992 in Los Angeles.
Gonzalez was surprised at the toughness and resilience of the Filipino who even began scoring with powerful counter combinations against the constantly charging Mexican.
In the heat of an exchange in the fourth round, Gonzalez was cut above the eye in accidental clash of heads. The sight of blood--- his own-- seemed to unnerve Gonzalez as his corner worked feverishly to stop the bleeding and cover the cut. Earlier, the referee had summoned the ring physician who decided that Gonzalez could continue.
The same pattern continued in the fifth round but with Gonzalez showing greater urgency to finish off Pascua. To the roar of his partisan crowd, Gonzalez managed to land with powerful combinations of his own, staggering Pascua. But that proved to be his last hurrah.
In the sixth round, Pascua stormed back and connected with a series of strong punches that staggered and eventually sent Gonzalez flat on his back in the canvas, blood flowing from the reopened cut.
Seeing Gonzalez in that condition, the referee stopped the fight and declared Pascua as winner and new world champion.
Pascua became the first fighter to beat Gonzalez and he did it by knockout while leading in two of the three judges scorecards by the end of the fifth.
2. NONITO DONAIRE KO5 ViC DARCHINYAN, IBF Flyweight Championship, July 7, 2007, Harbour Yard Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA.
By 2007, brash Armenian Vic Darchinyan had earned the reputation and notoriety as a vicious knockout artist in compiling an undefeated record as a pro of 28-0, 22 via the short route.
Among his sorry victims was Filipino Glenn Donaire who suffered a broken jaw in losing a hard fought technical decision in October 2006 in Darchinyan's fifth defense of the IBF title he won in 2004 by knocking out Irene Pacheco of Columbia.
Darchinyan had knocked out or halted his four previous title challengers that included another Filipino Diosdado Gabi. He would score another knockout in his sixth defense before agreeing to meet Nonito Donaire who had to go down from super flyweight for the opportunity to avenge his elder brother Glenn.
The fight was thus set on July 7, 2007 with Darchinyan's IBF and also IBO world flyweight belts at stake.
Determined to settle the score, Donaire boxed and countered beautifully as Darchinyan stalked him from the opening bell, waiting to deliver his vaunted left for a quick finish.
Bucking and frustrating the constant knockout threat from the attacking Darchinyan, Nonito was able to put his licks in that opened a cut above Vicious Vic's right eye while puffing both eyes by the third and fourth round.
The end suddenly came in the fifth when Nonito beat Darchinyan to the punch while retreating to a corner with him landing a powerful left hook to Vic's jaw as the Armenian was about to throw a left of his own.
Donaire drops Darchinyan.
Darchinyan was sent sprawling on the canvas almost face first hitting the lower strands of the ropes, with eyes glassy and his nose bloodied as the referee Ramon Claudio came to his succour and immediately stopped the fight, dispensing with the count.
Donaire was ahead by four in one judge's scorecard, 40-36 with the two other judges had it even, 38-38 after four rounds.
The fight went down as Ring Magazine's Upset of the Year and Knockout of the Year in 2007.
1. MORRIS EAST KO 11 AKINOBU HIRANAKA, WBA World Super Lightweight Championship, September 9, 1992, Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Akinobu Hiranaka's success in the amateur ring including as 1984 Los Angeles Olympics participant made him one of Japan's best prospects in the light welterweight division in the late 80s. He won the Japanese light welterweight title in only his fourth professional fight, knocking out his opponent in the 6th round.
Hiranaka became the WBA's top-ranked fighter in the light welterweight division and later challenged Juan Martin Coggi of Argentina in Italy on April 29, 1989, for the WBA title. Hiranaka knocked Coggi down twice in the third round. However, Hiranaka lost by a decision for the first loss of his career. This match was controversial for the decision with excessive favor to the Italian-Argentine boxer Coggi, while Coggi was knocked down by Hiranaka twice and has been inferior to Hiranaka at performance throughout 12 rounds. Among many boxing fans, there have been the strong voice that the victory should have been given to Hiranaka, since the match was owned by him.
Hiranaka finally got his second chance in April 1992, fighting in Mexico City against Puerto Rican world champion, Edwin Rosario. Hiranaka surprised onlookers by knocking out the champion only 92 seconds into the first round. He immediately pinned the champion against the ropes, and landed a furious barrage of punches, until the referee saw that the champion Edwin Rosario had been knocked unconscious while standing up. This fight remains as the shortest world title match in the light welterweight division.
Therefore, heading to his first world title defense in his homeland, Hiranaka was heavy favorite over the youngster from the Philippines named Morris East who at that time had a modest ring record of 15-2 with both losses coming very early in his pro career.
East earned a crack at Hiranaka after scoring back to back knockouts over Dindo Canoy and Pyung Sub Kim for the Orient Pacific light welterweight title early in 1992.
Despite making an epic entrance onto the world stage, Hiranaka lost his title after only five months to East in an all action, non stop punching contest from the opening bell on reminiscent of old classic wars and foreshadowing the legendary shootouts between Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward years later.
As reflected in the neutral judges scorecards, the fight was close with Hiranaka slightly leading going into the 11th round. But in another heated exchange, Hiranaka was knocked out by an unexpected blow from the challenger. East therefore became the youngest Filipino boxer to win a world championship at 19 years, 1 month.
Hiranaka was diagnosed with an intracranial hemorrhage after the fight, and was forced into retirement. His record was 20-2-0 (18KOs). He also has the highest KO percentage of any Japanese boxer (90%).
East knockout of Hiranaka was named the 1992 Ring Magazine Knockout of the Year.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone
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