Boxing is truly an international sport, but there is still very much a regional bias when it comes to the stars. If Takashi Uchiyama fought based out of the United States, he might rival Gennady Golovkin for popularity. The undefeated, WBA super featherweight champion is an explosive, attack fighter who has demolished contenders such as Jaider Parra, Bryan Vasquez, Jorge Solis and Takashi Miura.
On the Japanese scene, Uchiyama stands alongside super flyweight Naoya Inoue and bantamweight Shinsuke Yamanaka as the nation’s best fighter. At 130 pounds, he is unquestionably the top fighter in the world.
Takashi Uchiyama returns to action on Wednesday in Tokyo, defending his belt against Jezreel Corrales of Panama.
Corrales is very much an unknown quality. He lost his second fight, in April 2009, but has been undefeated for the past seven years, running his record to 19-1. This will be his first time fighting outside of his native Panama. With just seven KOs, he is lacking in punching power. That should prove to be a problem against Uchiyama.
I have been anxious to see Uchiyama fight bigger, western stars for years now. A fight between Uchiyama and WBC champion Francisco Vargas would be one of the most exciting fights that could happen.
Uchiyama had to climb off the canvas to stop Miura in Round 8 in January 2011. Vargas went life or death with Miura last November on the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto undercard, getting off the canvas in Round 4, before finishing him in Round 9, with his eye quickly swelling shut. There’s no way that a fight between Uchiyama and Vargas would fail to deliver the thrills.
First Takashi Uchiyama will have to take care of Corrales, of course. It shouldn’t be a problem for him, but at 36, he can’t afford to take anything for granted.
Vargas, meanwhile, faces Orlando Salido in June, one of the sport’s toughest veterans. That fight should be one of 2016’s best.