THE ONLY man to ever win the flyweight and bantamweight world titles was born in Setagya Ward, Tokyo. This dual championship reign is all the more impressive when you consider that at the time there were only 10 weight classes and one champion in each division. Harada, who turned pro when he was 16, won his first 25 bouts.
At age 19, he won the world flyweight title from the legendary Thai champion Pone Kingpetch in Oct. 1962 via 11th-round kayo, but lost the belt three months later in a return bout by a 15-round decision. Harada then moved up to 118 pounds, where he won 11 of 12 fights, his lone loss being a sixth round TKO to Joe Medel that he later avenged. On May 17, 1965 he made boxing history by outpointing fellow Hall-of-Famer Eder Jofre over 15 rounds in Nagoya, Japan. Harada scored another 15-round decision win over Jofre June 1, 1966.
In all, Harada defended the 118-pound title four times. He lost the crown February 26, 1968, to Australian Lionel Rose via 15-round decision. Harada then decided to move up in weight and try to join a then-elite class of three division champions by challenging featherweight king, Johnny Famechon, in Sydney, Australia.
But the July 28, 1969, bout ended in controversey as Harada lost a referees decision. It was a compelling bout in which Harada dropped the champion in the second, 11th and 14th rounds. Even though Harada went down in the fifth, many Australians thought Harada deserved the nod. Nevertheless, referee Willie Pep scored Famechon a narrow winner. Harada got a second chance at Famechon six months later, this time in Tokyo, but he was stopped in the 14th round and never fought again.
He is arguably Japan's greatest fighter ever.
Born: Apr. 5, 1943
Masahiko (Fighting) Harada