Previously in this section, I wrote about two other great, somewhat forgotten flyweight champions, Pone Kingpetch and Masao Ohba.
Many of boxing's lighter weight fighters, especially those from the Orient, have been overlooked when it comes to induction into the Halls of Fame. Kingpetch and Ohba are prime examples. Hiroyuki Ebihara is another deserving of consideration especially now that one of his old rivals, Efren "Alacron" Torres, has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame ("Class of 2007").
Born in Tokyo on March 26, 1940, Ebihara turned pro in September of 1959. He won his first 9 bouts before dropping a 6-round decision to the then undefeated Fighting Harada. Harada, who would go on to win both the world flyweight and world bantamweight titles, is one of only 4 Oriental fighters enshrined at the International Boxing Hall of Fame and one of only 5 in the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Hiroyuki was 38-1-1 when he challenged Pone Kingpetch for the world flyweight title on September 18, 1963. He had beaten many of the era's top contenders- Katsutoshi Aoki, Tsuyoshi Nakamura (twice), Shigeru Ito, Johnny Jamito, Ray Perez, and future 3-time world champion Chartchoi Chionoi. His draw had come against Nakamura in the second of their first three bouts.
Ebihara met Kingpetch at the Metropolitan Gym in Tokyo and the then 23-year-old's first title shot was a stunning success. He knocked out the two-time champion at 2:07 of the first round. Before giving Kingpetch a return bout, Hiroyuki knocked out Henry Acido in the 10th round of a non-title bout.
On January 23, 1964, Ebihara and Kingpetch met for the second time. Their rematch was held at famous home of Muay Thai, the Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. The pair battled for 15 rounds and when the bout was over, Kingpetch emerged as a three-time champion, having won by split decision.
Ebihara made his U. S. debut in his next bout. On March 19, 1964, he won a unanimous decisionover Mexico's Fabian Esquival at the famed Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. His following bout was also held at the Olympic and it was against future flyweight champion Efren Torres. Ebihara scored a split decision.
Hiroyuki fought his next 7 bouts in Japan and won all of them. Among those victories were one over Ric Magramo and a third over Tsuyoshi Nakamura. He returned to Los Angeles and, on May 7, 1965, fought Torres in a rematch at the Memorial Coliseum. Ebihara halted "El Alacron" at 2:31 of the 7th round.
After 4 more wins scored in Tokyo including a decision over Yoshio Nakane, Ebihara traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina and challenged WBA flyweight champion Horacio Accavallo on July 15, 1966. Accavallo improved to 70-1-6 with a unanimous decision.
Ebihara ran off another three wins in Tokyo including a points victory over Speedy Hayase and earned another shot at Accavallo. On August 12, 1967, again fighting in Buenos Aires, Ebihara lost a majority decision to the defending WBA champion.
Hiroyuki kept active, hoping for a third bout with Accavallo. It would not materialize as Accavallo retired, leaving the sport with a 75-2-6 record. His second win over Ebihara came in what turned out to be his final fight. Incidentally, his only losses were to Salvatore Burruni in the 2nd of their 3 fights- Accavallo won the other two- and a non-title loss to Kiyoshi Tanabe two fights before his rematch with Ebihara.
The five wins Ebihara recorded after his close loss to Accavallo kept him in the mix and on March 30, 1969, he was matched with South American champ Jose Severino of Brazil for the vacant WBA title. He became a world flyweight champion for the second time with a convincing unanimous decision.
Hiroyuki fought two more times, winning a non-title bout by knockout and, on October 19, 1969, losing the title by decision to Filipino Bernabe Villacampo.
He then decided to call it a career and retired with a record of 62-5-1 with 33 victories coming by knockout (as per BoxRec) or 63-5-1 with 34 KOs (as per The Ring Record Book and Boxing Encyclopedia- 1986-87 edition).
Sadly, if either or both of the Halls of Fame do someday induct Ebihara, the great Japanese southpaw won't be there to enjoy it. On April 20, 1991, he passed away at the age of 51.
He was posthumously honored by the creator of Pokemon. One of the Pokemon species, Hitmonchan, is, in the original Japanese language episodes, known as "Ebiwara" (Ebiwalar). "The Punching Pokemon" is a tribute to Ebihara.
Ken "KSTAT" Pollitt- November 24, 2007
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