Former world champion Katsunari Takayama of Osaka, Japan will invade the Philippines in September when he figures in a 12-round fight for the position of IBF #1 in the 105 lb. division against untested Filipino fighter Mateo Handig. The Japanese fighter, 29, is now under the promotional banner of ALA Boxing Promotions holding office in Cebu City, Southern Philippines. Meanwhile, Handig is handled by Highland Boxing owned by Brico Santig based in Benguet province.
Takayama (24-5, 10 KOs) was the former WBC strawweight world champ when he beat Mexican Isaac Bustos in April 2005. In November 7, 2006 he won the interim WBA minimumweight diadem by beating Carlos Melo. In both world title fights, Takayama beat his foes via comfortable unanimous decision victories. He again was in the world championship stage when he beat South African Tshepo Lefele in a 12-round IBF world title eliminator wherein he beat the hometown hero via a huge knockout in the sixth round.
After that big win in South Africa, he was given two chances to become the IBF world champion in the mini flyweight division fighting the undefeated South African who is recognized as perhaps the top 105-pounder in the world – Nkosinathi Joyi. The first fight last January 29, 2011 ended in a 3rd round no contest when a dangerous cut produced by an accidental headbutt prematurely halted the world title contest. The rematch that happened March 30 this year ended in a competitive but unanimous decision loss for Takayama.
Handig (12-5, 7 KOs) is a 22-year old fighter who is in a 4-fight winning streak. Though by simply looking at the fighters that he fought in his 17-fight professional boxing career, the Filipino will come in this fight as the clear underdog against the battle-tested Japanese. The three most recent fights of Handig was against fighters with a combined ring records of 3-29-1, which shows his lack of experience against quality opponents.
A strange twist in this match-up, however, is the fact that Highland Boxing Promotions (Handig’s promoter) won the right to promote this very important fight. Brico Santig is planning to stage the fight either in the 15th or the 22nd of September at the Baguio City Convention Center as part of the Baguio City Charter Anniversary Month. However, he is not yet closing the doors for offers from local chief executives in the Ilocano-speaking provinces in Northern Luzon who may bid to bring the IBF world title eliminator in their respective places.