By Joe Koizumi
It might be a strange coincidence that our outstanding world super-featherweight champions—Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura—announced their farewell to the ring this weekend. Uchiyama, 37, started his career in the paid ranks at the age of 25 after his long amateur experience, became WBA titlist at 30, and retained it eleven times to his credit prior to his forfeiture to Jezreel Corrales and then his failure to win it back from the Panamanian via split verdict last December.
His reign for six years and three months is the longest among all world champs out of Japan in history.
Uchiyama, nicknamed “KO Dynamite”, was truly a hard-punching boxer-puncher with power and skills who captured the WBA belt by dispatching defending champ Juan Carlos Salgado in the twelfth and last round in 2010. All defenses were spectacular, but his third defense with Takashi Miura was so memorable that Uchiyama hit the deck in round three but battered another Takashi to the punch to have him retire on the stool after the eighth session in January 2011. His eighth-round stoppage of interim titlist Bryan Vasquez in the mandatory defense was such a masterpiece as he displayed a fine performance of hitting without getting hit so completely.
Last year the WBA super champ Uchiyama was so eager to show his fists in the US, and his fight with then still undefeated Nicholas Walters was almost set, but it was cancelled by any reason, and his next target in the US ring was WBA full champ Javier Fortuna of Dominican Republic. It also wasn’t realized since the Uchiyama-Fortuna wasn’t such an attractive matchup to US televisions and audience as well since both unbeaten champs were less known there. Finally Uchiyama’s US campaign proved abortive and his WBA-ordered mandatory defense was against interim ruler Jezreel Corrales, whom we, probably including Takashi’s camp, might underestimate in comparison with Walters and Fortuna.
It proved wrong as Corrales made a do-or-die blitzkrieg, dropping Uchiyama three times in the second round to deck an unexpected triumph in April of the previous year. Their anticipated rematch took place eight months later, when Uchiyama floored his grudge rival but couldn’t finish him only to lose a split duke (115-112, 117-110, 113-114 for Uchiyama) in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve. It eventually his final showing.
Uchiyama said, “Though I kept training since the Corrales rematch, I realized that I couldn’t properly revive my motivation to train as hard as previously. After deeply considering whether or not to go on, I finally made up my mind to hang up my gloves for good.”
His manager/promoter Hitoshi Watanabe gloomily said, “Uchiyama is my gym’s first world champion. I truly thank for Uchiyama having selected my gym when he turned professional. He was a great champ.” Uchiyama’s farewell was announced yesterday (Saturday) at the studio of TV Tokyo, which showed it in a special sports program at night.
As for Miura’s retirement, it was reported on Friday due to his announcement just on Twitter as President Trump. His retirement will be officially announced later, and this reporter would like to review his also illustrious career at another opportunity.
We, in Japan, have missed both outstanding 130-pound ex-champions almost at the same time. Both of them were excellent crowd-pleasers.