By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Sumio Yamada
It is wonderful for us to be able to watch such competitive world title bouts on the last day of this year. We will see a world title doubleheader featuring our WBC and WBA 130-pound champions putting their belts on the line against dangerous challengers on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. In the main event, WBA super-feather titlist, unbeaten hard-punching Japanese Takashi Uchiyama (20-0-1, 17 KOs) will risk his throne against fast-rising compatriot Daiki Kaneko (19-2-3, 12 KOs) in a highly awaited encounter. Also, WBC ruler, Japanese southpaw Takashi Miura (26-2-2, 19 KOs) will face WBC #2 ranked Mexican Dante “Crazy” Jardon (24-3, 20 KOs) in a do-or-die confrontation.
UCHIYAMA vs. KANEKO for the WBA championship
We recently watched a very sensational contest between Carl Froch and George Groves (selected atop as British Fight of the Year by Boxing News) through a cable television named WOWOW that shows a weekly program with title bouts all over the world. The status and structure of the champion and challenger in the main event looks like that of the Froch-Groves extravaganza. Uchiyama is to Froch what Kaneko is to Groves. Uchiyama, making his eighth defense, has shown his formidableness as he scored eight stoppages since he dethroned Juan Carlos Salgado via twelfth round TKO in January 2011. Only a flaw on his credentials was a technical draw with head-butting Filipino Michael Farenas—in his fifth defense—in July of the previous year.
Out of seven successful defenses, Uchiyama already dispatched a couple of WBA mandatory challengers: Jorge Solis (TKO11) and Bryan Vasquez (TKO8). Even including Solis and Vazquez, Kaneko might be the strongest among the challengers against Uchiyama. Kaneko, a beautifully proportioned athlete, recently registered six consecutive knockouts and retained his Japanese national 130-pound belt four times all within the distance, dethroning Seiichi Okada (who showed a good performance against Alejandro Sanabria in Mexico) and demolishing Michiya Sato (KO2), Ryota Kajiki (TKO6), Kyohei Tamakoshi (the man who upset Dante Jardon in Mexico in 2011; TKO9) and Mitsuya Omura (the rival who previously halted Kaneko six years ago; KO1). Every time he defended his national belt his showing was so splendid that he received a Boxer of the Month award and was greatly evaluated by our experts due to his stylishness.
Kaneko, nine years younger at 25, is a bit taller and has a longer reach than the champ. Kaneko, unbeaten for almost six years since his Omura defeat, has only a disadvantage from the statistic point of view since he suffered a couple of setbacks and his chin hasn’t been fully proven of granite in comparison with the unbeaten kingpin. Sharp, swift and smart as he is, Kaneko is still less experienced than the 34-year-old Uchiyama, ex-national amateur titlist and a seasoned professional with an eight-year professional career plus his long amateur credentials.
They look like each other such as Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson. They are upright stylists, fighting with good jabs, straight rights and solid left hooks to the belly in the long range. Once mixing it up in the close quarter, Uchiyama may punch harder than Kaneko as the champ disposed of Venezuelan Jaider Parra in five rounds of his last defense this May. His single left hook to the rib cage was a haymaker that was really reminiscent of legendary “golden bantam” Eder Jofre’s unforgettable annihilation of Katsutoshi Aoki with a devastating body shot witnessed here in 1963.
Some people cannot resist imagining Kaneko’s coronation over Uchiyama in the “Battle of Ages” but Uchiyama predicts “I have been fighting for twenty years, and won’t lose to a less experienced youngster with only a ten-year career.” Though it is not a matter of fighting span, Uchiyama is confident of his longer career and better credentials. Kaneko, at the press conference today (Sunday), baldly said, “Uchiyama is a strong champ, but it’s time that he’ll yield his belt to me. I’ll win either by a decision or by a knockout.”
Should Kaneko make a very good start as Groves dropped Froch in the first round, he may have a chance to upset the prefight favorite Uchiyama. But once Uchiyama warms up his engine, he is usually good at defending himself well with his tight guard and exploding his bombs midway in the contest. The quality of the victims against Uchiyama (with his WBA belt on the line) and Kaneko (with his national title at stake) was quite different. Logically Uchiyama is superior in everything to Kaneko. But we may remember what Carlos Monzon accomplished against formidable and famous Nino Benvenuti in Rome in 1970. Kaneko may have a youngster’s chance.
MIURA vs. JARDON for the WBC championship
You may ask Mexican people how hard-fought a contest it was between Takashi Miura and mandatory challenger Sergio Thompson in Cancun this August. It’s a give-and-take battle. Miura decked the game Mexican in the second and sixth, but hit the canvas in round eight. It was really a total war where both exhausted themselves in the end of the furious battle. Fresh from such a hard-fought successful defense abroad, Miura, a 29-year-old southpaw bomber, will welcome another Mexican hard-hitter in Dante Jardon.
Jardon, 25, is nicknamed “Crazy” due to his tremendous aggressiveness, though he sometimes forgot how to defend himself in mixing it up. He suffered an upset TKO defeat by unheralded Japanese trial horse Kyohei Tamakoshi, tasting his first defeat by a third-round knockout in Mexico in December 2011. He again lost to Miguel Roman but avenged his defeat with a twelve-round decision that awarded Dante a WBC Continental Americas 130-pound belt in October of the previous year. Jardon, taller than Miura, is a reckless hard-puncher that lately zoomed up to #2 in the WBC ratings thanks to his give-and-take upset triumph over ex-champ Gamaliel Diaz.
Jardon’s trainer Manuel Panda Lopez says, “Dante may box and counterpunch the southpaw champ Miura.” But we wonder due to our information whether Jardon will be able to retain his composure to outbox the game and gallant champ Miura who always loves swapping punches toe-to-toe and overwhelmed his opponents with his superior power-punching. Miura, a southpaw dynamite, may destroy “Crazy” Jardon, who, however, may have a puncher’s chance.
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The officials were announced at the press conference today, as follows:
WBC title bout: referee Len Koivisto (Canada); judge Mauro Di Fiore (US), Cathy Leonard (US), Noppharat Sricharoen (Thailand); supervisor Duane Ford (US).
WBA title bout: referee Hubert Earle (Canada); judge Takeshi Shimakawa, Takeo Harada, Kazunobu Asao (all from Japan); supervisor Renzo Bagnariol (Nicaragua).
By any coincidence, each bout will be officiated by a Canadian referee. We, in Japan, feel cool in winter here, but the Canadian Hubert Earle says he feels comfortable as he came far away from the frozen place. It’s a matter of comparison. Yes, boxing is a game to compare the relative strength as asked, “Quien es mas macho? (who is more macho, that is, stronger?).”