By Joe Koizumi
Former all four-body world 105-pound champ, 37-year-old Japanese Katsunari Takayama (32-8-1-1NC, 12 KOs), 107.75, made a successful comeback after such a long hiatus as four years and four months when he pounded out a nearly shutout six-round decision (60-54, 59-55 twice) over WBC#11 light-flyweight compatriot Reiya Konishi (17-3, 7 KOs), 108, on Sunday in Osaka, Japan. Konishi, 27, a prefight favorite, suffered another defeat following his failure to win the IBF 108-pound belt from Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado last May. Takayama made best use of his trademark footwork to befuddle and bewilder the flat-footed puncher Konishi, steadily piling up points with his speed and skills. Konishi attempted to go forward and catch up with the fleet-footed veteran, but Takayama was obviously too sharp and swift for him. It’s like a Tom-and-Gerry game.
Katsunari, while holding the WBO 105-pound belt, renounced the title and professionally retired in order to participate in the Olympic Games and win the gold medal in April 2017. It took a year and a half for the Japanese amateur organization to finally approve ex-world champ Takayama’s amateur campaign in September 2018.
Takayama won his first amateur contest in July 2019, but unexpectedly lost to an amateur novice named Teru Utsu on points in the first bout of the national tournament to eliminate the Japanese representative to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games in August last year. The crestfallen Katsunari then announced to hang up gloves for good just after this defeat, but he again changed his mind.
It was this March that Takayama made a surprising announcement that he would again come back professionally, and the JBC approved his return to the paid ranks. His first comeback go with world-rated Reiya Konishi was originally slated on November 23, but Konishi tested positive for the COVID-19 PCR test, so it was abruptly postponed despite their successful weigh-in.
Rescheduled after about a month, Konishi didn’t appear to recover completely and couldn’t display his usual aggressiveness only to be a victim of Takayama’s superior speed on foot and hand. Where will Takayama, still ambitious, go? He says, “I wish to gain another belt in the 108-pound category from WBA ruler Hiroto Kyoguchi.” Good luck.
Promoter: Green Tsuda Promotions.