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Home » The super welterweight who jumped straight up to heavyweight

The super welterweight who jumped straight up to heavyweight

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It’s not very often that a fighter begins his career at super welterweight and ends it at heavyweight. However, that’s the tale of Nobuhiro Ishida.

The Japanese former world middleweight title contender shocked the world by moving straight up to heavyweight.

Now retired since 2015, Ishida was once a 154-pound contender who weighed 153 pounds soaking wet. Nonetheless, he forced his way to the sport’s pinnacle.

Ishida, as low as 152lbs when campaigning on home soil, suffered five losses and carded two draws in his first five years as a pro.

A lengthy, unbeaten run led Ishida to face Canelo Alvarez’s brother Rigoberto in 2010. A good showing in a split loss pushed Ishida into the mind of Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya.

Signed by De La Hoya, Ishida was pitted against James Kirkland six months later in early 2011. On a fateful night, his career would change forever.

Nobuhiro Ishida almost steals the show

He fought on a card topped by the exceptional battle between Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis at the MGM Grand. The event featured co-stars in Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi, and Danny Garcia, but Ishida almost stole the show.

He certainly would have if Guerrero vs Katsidis weren’t such an unbelievable battle for the ages.

Expected to give the then 27-0 Kirkland a few rounds before being taken out, Ishida stunned the boxing world. Ishida dropped Kirkland three times before securing a massive first-round triumph.

In the process, Ishida immediately became a feared puncher at 154. The win also claimed him Upset of the Year for 2011.

A lower-key warm-up a few months on set Ishida up for a world-class run of losses. He got pitted against Paul Williams at 155lbs, Dmitry Pirog at 157, and Gennadiy Golovkin at 158.

But after such tough matchmaking, it was clear Ishida was on borrowed time.

Gennadiy Golovkin Nobuhiro Ishida

Approaching his 38th birthday, Ishida decided to step away from the highest level.

It would have been reasonable to believe Ishida would walk away happy. But the veteran was having none of it.

Shock heavyweight move

In 2014, after one final bout at middleweight, Ishida blindsided all by revealing his desire to move up forty pounds plus to enter the top division.

Piling on the pounds to barely reach the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds, Ishida fought a now familiar name – Kyotaro Fujimoto.

Fujimoto had recently lost to Daniel Dubois in two rounds. The pink-haired extrovert was 8-1 at the time, which was a bold move by Ishida.

To his considerable credit, only a narrow points loss followed on his big boy debut. However, the defeat saw Ishida lower his ambitions considerably.

The drop-down in class brought instant success. Victories over David Radeff and Takehara, who possessed losing records, saw 2014 out on a winning note for Ishida.

Ambitions of domestic honors, which was his only goal at the start of the run, were finally given a chance to be fulfilled in April 2015.

At the time, only three heavyweights were registered in Japan at a professional level. This fact was a contributing reason for targeting such an eye-opening weight-class jump.

National title shot

The former world middleweight title challenger now had a chance to become a national champion. Quite unfathomable from where he was two years prior.

To do so, Ishida would have to exact revenge on Fujimoto. His old foe had previously defeated the only other heavyweight around, Kotatsu Takehara, to pick up the belt.

Having only been contested once in 1957, the Japanese strap only came back into circulation in 2013 after 56 years in the wilderness.

Once again, it was a close fight. Ishida proved his class. He was unfazed by an evident gulf in bulk. Over a stone heavier, Fujimoto eeked his way to a split decision, halting a historic feat.

The loss proved to be Ishida’s last outing. He finally bowed out as a hero just shy of his 40th birthday.

To this day, Ishida continues to mentor young Japanese fighters. He undoubtedly has some stories to tell.

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