WBA “Super World” Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-0-1) will defend his title this coming April 27th against Jezreel Corrales (19-1) of Panama.
After Uchiyama’s last title defense, against Oliver Flores of Nicaragua on December 31st, there were strong rumors that Uchiyama was finally ready to fight outside of Japan. Word was that Bob Arum and Top Rank were working to put together a match between Uchiyama and Nicholas Walters.
Arum has apparently set his sights on a bout between Walters and Vasyl Lomachenko, and with the announcement of this April 27th bout, all hope of seeing Uchiyama fight a top dog in the division outside of his backyard have fallen by the wayside.
This is extremely disappointing to observers of Japan's boxing scene, as Uchiyama is 36 years old now and we have almost certainly already missed him at his best on the world stage. Considering that Uchiyama has headlined New Year’s Eve fights in Tokyo for the last five years running, the chances that he steps out this year become even slimmer. He has not fought more than twice a year since 2010, and he will likely be looked upon to main event next New Year’s eve as well.
The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board lists Uchiyama as the number one ranked Super Featherweight in the world and that is unlikely to change without a loss by Uchiyama. But maybe it should.
Right now, a look at the TBRB.org’s rankings reveals that Uchiyama has fought just two of the current top 10. He has defeated #3 ranked countryman Takashi Miura in January of 2011. Miura went on from there to hold the WBC’s belt at Super Featherweight for two years and has done enough to potentially warrant a rematch. He also owns a win over #10 Bryan Vasquez (34-2) on New Year’s Eve 2012, and he has not faced a top ten opponent since.
There is competition in the weight class and Uchiyama’s handlers have not brought in any of the top dogs in the division. The #2 ranked fighter right now is Francisco Vargas (23-0-1). Vargas is the WBC Champion now, having defeated Miura in his last outing back in November. Certainly the win over Miura would have netted Vargas’ attention in Japan.
The WBA version of the “regular” world title is held by Javier Fortuna (29-0-1) and his number 4 ranking would earn respect for Uchiyama on the world level. For unknown reasons, he is not being forced on Uchiyama as a mandatory by the WBA, instead they approved a meaningless defense against Corrales. Roman Martinez holds the WBO’s trinket, and he is embroiled in a feud with Miguel Bercheldt and Orlando Salido. There is solid competition in the weight class, and Uchiyama is avoiding it.
The problem is that to maximize the money for fights against established names, Uchiyama will likely have to leave Japan to fight. Now in 2016, it is the same old story with Uchiyama. A lot of talk about going abroad to fight, but in the end he is more comfortable fighting second –tier names in the comfort of his own home.
This is not to disrespect Corrales, as the 24 year old southpaw will certainly be looking to take the belt back to Panama. His 19-1 record looks even better when you consider the loss took place in his second fight. This is his first fight overseas, and the experience will be valuable to Corrales down the line. If he can break through and win the belt, he will have taken down a titleholder who has now held the belt for over six years.
PHOTO FROM: Nippon News