6. Masahiko Harada
Years Active: 1960-1970
Professional Record: 55-7, 22 KOs
Titles: WBA World Flyweight champion 1962-1963, World Bantamweight champion 1960-1967
Better known as Fighting Harada, Masahiko Harada is a former world boxing champion in the Flyweight and Bantamweight divisions, and also challenged for the Featherweight title twice. He is currently the president of the Japanese boxing association.
Harada was inarguably one of Japan’s most popular and most accomplished boxers. He, in fact, reached international fame and adulation. The Puerto Rican great Wilfredo Gómez, for example, used to idolized Harada as a child.
Harada won his first 24 bouts. Among the notable fighters he beat during this span was future world champion Hiroyuki Ebihara by a decision in six rounds.
On June 15, 1962, Harada finally suffered his first defeat, a decision loss by Edmundo Esparza over 10 rounds in Tokyo.
After securing another win, Harada received his first world-title try on October 10, 1962 and became the lineal and WBA world flyweight champion by scoring an 11th round knockout of Pone Kingpetch in Tokyo.
In their rematch, Harada lost the title in his first defense, being outpointed by Kingpetch over 15 rounds on January 12, 1963 in Bangkok, Thailand. It is perhaps worth noting that this was Harada’s first fight outside Japan.
On May 18, 1965, Harada defeated the legendary Eder Jofre in Nagoya, by a 15-round decision, to win his second world title–the unified WBA and WBC world bantamweight title. Jofre was undefeated in 50 fights going into that bout, and considered virtually unbeatable.
On June 1, 1966, Harada defeated Jofre once again, by a 15-round decision in Tokyo. The loss prompted Jofre to retire, and although he eventually made a comeback, Harada remains the only boxer to ever beat the great Jofre.
On February 27, 1968, Lionel Rose of Australia outpointed Harada over 15 rounds in Tokyo.
On July 28, 1969, Harada unsuccessfully challenged Australia’s Johnny Famechon for the WBC world featherweight belt, losing a controversial decision after the fight was first ruled a draw.
On January 6, 1970, Harada and Famechon met once again, this time in Tokyo. Harada dropped the champion in Round 10, but Famechon recovered, knocking Harada out of the ring in Round 14. The champion retained the title by knocking out Harada in that round. This was Harada’s last fight as a professional.
In 1996, Fighting Harada was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He became president of the Japanese Boxing Commission in 2002.
Some of Harada’s noteworthy achievements include handing Jofre the only two losses of his career, becoming the lineal champion in two weight classes (and fighting for the title in a third) at a time when there were only eight weight classes.
Harada was voted the 32nd best fighter of modern time by Ring Magazine in 2002.
Having fought almost exclusively in Japan as well as having suffered a few bad losses during the prime of his career keeps Harada from ascending further on this list.