Report by Joe Koizumi
Photos by Sumio Yamada
WBC super-feather champ Takashi Miura’s successful defense over top contender Sergio Thompson in Mexico was telecast live here in Japan yesterday through a cable television WOWOW to cause a hot sensation among our aficionados. It was a grueling battle with Miura dropping Thompson with his southpaw bombardments twice in the second and sixth sessions but the Mexican decking the champ in round eight. They fought out exhausting the last energy in Cancun, Mexico. The audience as well as Japanese TV watchers all praised their very best performance under the Queensberry rules.
Now we have no less than ten world champions out of Japan. Along with the victorious Miura, in the same 130-pound category, WBA ruler Takashi Uchiyama (20-0-1, 17 KOs) has kept his diadem since 2010, having registered seven defenses to his credit. In the bantamweight division, we see such three champs at the same time as WBC titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka (19-0-2, 14 KOs), WBA champ Koki Kameda (31-1, 17 KOs) and his younger brother, newly crowned WBO leader Tomoki Kameda (28-0, 18 KOs). The flyweight division holds WBC kingpin Akira Yaegashi (18-3, 9 KOs) and WBA interim titlist Koki Eto (13-2-1, 9 KOs). In the lightest 105-pound category, we see WBA champ Ryo Miyazaki (19-0-3, 11 KOs) and IBF titleholder Katsunari Takayama (25-6, 10 KOs).[table “” not found /]
You may say, “You only have small champs in lighter divisions.” We admit we have neither world heavyweight champs nor any contender who may cope with Klitschko brothers. Given accepting such criticisms, this reporter praises our world champs with great admiration.
When I started watching boxing games in the end of 1950s, our first world champ Yoshio Shirai had already forfeited his world flyweight belt to Argentine great Pascual Perez. It was in 1959 that Perez defeated Kenji Yonekura and Sadao Yaoita (who had inflicted his career-first loss on him in a non-title bout) to demonstrate his strength. Mexican hard-puncher Jose Becerra kept his bantam throne against our excellent speedster Yonekura in 1960. World feather champ Davey Moore battered our outstanding national champ Kazuo Takayama twice in 1960 and 1961. Flyweight ruler Pone Kingpetch whipped Mitsunori Seki and Kyo Noguchi with ease. Lightweight titlist Carlos Ortiz dispatched Teruo Kosaka in five quick rounds in 1962.
In fact, there was a solid and high wall between the world and Japan. It was really hard to climb over the wall—like Franz Kafka’s “The castle.” The world champions were by far too strong and too powerful or skillful for our challengers. For a boxing-addict boy fan, watching world title bouts had a suggestion of pathos to see our men miserably beaten to the punch. We hadn’t seen the second world champ since the first champ Shirai until Fighting Harada dethroned Kingpetch with an upset eleventh-round knockout—in 1962—ten years after Shirai’s coronation over Dado Marino. Our instructors or trainers learned much through our ring men’s bitter defeats by such prominent champs as Eder Jofre, Ultiminio Sugar Ramos, Flash Elorde, Eddie Perkins, Nicolino Loche, Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes, etc.
You may not like this Japanese reporter’s reminiscences any longer, and I now watch our current ten world champs with cool head and warm heart. If there should be merely eight weight categories and if there should be only one sanctioning body, we would not be able to hold ten champs. Now we have no less than seventeen classes along with four major organizations. We call a champ, number one through number three contenders of the good old days all “champions.” Our uncrowned champs, Sadao Yaoita or Mitsunori Seki et al, would have acquired a world championship should they be active at this time. As cynic fans ironically point out, we admit it is much easier to reach the top of the mountain since there are four peaks of as many mountains. Also, there are so many categories of the 105, 108, 112, 115, 118, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140 pounds under the welterweight division.
As for Japan, it has become severe time for our world champions. Previously it was a great achievement that a boxer should win a world title, but now a champion must distinguish himself from other world titlists. People now watch whom the champ fights. People watch whether he fights abroad or at his home turf. People watch how spectacularly he wins. The crowd or TV watchers won’t be satisfied only with our champ’s victory but with his impressive triumph over a strong challenger.
Congratulations on Takashi Miura’s impressive defense in Mexico. We wish our other world champs to follow the brilliant footstep of Miura and display their real power abroad in the near future.