By Joe Koizumi
Unbeaten WBA super-feather champ Takashi Uchiyama (18-0-1, 14 KOs), 130, a Japanese hard-puncher, kept his belt as he was held to a technical draw by Filipino southpaw Michael Farenas (34-3-4-1NC, 26 KOs), 130, because of the titlist’s wide and deep laceration caused by an accidental butt at 1:15 of the third round on Monday in Saitama, Japan. Uchiyama’s KO streak in world title goes unfortunately stopped at five in his home turf when referee Raul Caiz Jr. made a well-timed stoppage just after a heavy head-collision.
Uchiyama, making his fifth defense, was eager to show a good performance to great many friends and acquaintances at his native place. Some 5,800 was in attendance at Wing Hat Kusakabe. All looked very much disappointed at the abrupt and short termination without any actual exchanges of hot punches. It was Uchiyama himself that was greatly disgusted at his failure to entertain the crowd with a highly expected KO victory.
Farenas was a Filipino southpaw 130-pounder following his country’s history that produced excellent lefty champs such as Flash Elorde, Rene Barrientos, Ben Villaflor, Rolando Navarrette and recently Manny Pacquiao. Handled by formerly two-time world champ Gerry Penalosa, the 28-yer-old was ambitious enough to be willing to dethrone the Japanese champ. The talkative Penalosa predicted his boy’s coronation by a KO victory to encourage Farenas before many Japanese press people. Penalosa’s confidence in him was apparently based on his unbeaten campaign in six bouts in the US, including victories over Fernando Beltran and Daniel Attah.
Uchiyama had wrested the WBA belt via spectacular TKO win over Juan Carlos Salgado in the final session in January 2010. Since then, he kept stopping all the challengers by displaying his power punching—Angel Granados (TKO6), Roy Mukhlis (TKO5), Takashi Miura (TKO8) and interim champ Jorge Solis (TKO11).
In the opening session Uchiyama, four years his senior at 32, appeared cautious to probe the shorter southpaw’s mobility. Farenas kept boring in with southpaw lefts, but the champ coolly averted them with his quick footwork. The aggressive Filipino had a tendency of ducking low and throwing long lefts from that position. Uchiyama jabbed and countered with right uppercuts to the willing mixer.
Uchiyama took the second session, but we realized Farenas was sharp with long southpaw lefts though they didn’t hit the mark due to the champ’s good defense. Uchiyama occasionally caught the onrushing challenger with countering rights to the midsection. As Farenas looked sharp and swift, it seemed to be a good competitive bout should the contest progress into later rounds.
At about a minute into the third round, an accidental butt happened when Farenas came in with a straight left and Uchiyama attempted to counter him with a right shot. The champ winced at the pain. Blood profusely came out of a nasty cut under the right eyebrow, which was oviously too wide and deep for him to go on.
Referee Raul Caiz Sr. had the blood flow of the champ’s gash examined by the ringside physician, and very promptly declared a halt without hesitation. It’s a good decision despite the crowd’s disappointment. Had it been continued, Uchiyama would have had a difficulty watching his opponent with possible blood rain over the right optic.
The official tallies after the second were as follows: Michael Lee and Wansoo Yuh (both from Korea) both 20-18 in favor of Uchiyama, and Pinit Prayadsab (Thailand) 19-19 by giving the first session to Farenas and the second to Uchiyama.
Uchiyama spoke from the center of the ring to WBC champ in the same category, compatriot Takahiro Ao, a commentator of TV Tokyo, asking, “Have you been disappointed?” Ao consoled Uchiyama, saying, “A technical draw sometimes happens, so you need not be discouraged at this finish.” The WBC and WBA kingpins are very greatly anticipated to square off in a unification bout in the near future.
After the abruptly terminated fight Gerry Penalosa, Farenas’ manager, eloquently asked for a rematch, saying his boy would finish him in later rounds. Who knows? It had been already halted because of the collision of heads.
Uchiyama will most probably face the WBA mandatory challenger Bryan Vazquez of Costa Rica in his next defense after he recovers from the bad laceration (two and a half inch in width and more than a quarter inch in depth).
It was a very hot and humid night. The arena was located alone in the wide plains. It was like a solitary building in the desert. No wind. There was no Desert Storm upsetting the champ.
Promoter: Watanabe Promotions in association with Teiken Promotions.
WBA supervisor: Alan Kim (Korea).