By Joe Koizumi
Unbeaten newly crowned WBA super-feather champ Takashi Uchiyama (14-0, 11 KOs), Japan, will put his belt on the line against hugely elongated 6’1″ Venezuelan Angel Granados (18-8, 8 KOs; a challenger with a triple eight) tomorrow (Monday) in Saitama (adjacent to Tokyo), Japan.
Uchiyama, formerly multi-national amateur champ at 30, was fortunate enough to have gained the world throne with a couple of reasons: (1) then WBA 130-pound champ Jorge Linares, regarded as formidable by all, astoundingly lost his belt via unexpected and unbelievable first-round demolition by Juan Carlos Salgado last October, and (2) Uchiyama was given an opportunity to have a shot against Salgado in the unbeaten Mexican’s initial defense here and then disposed of him in the last stanza this January.
Should Linares have been still reigning, Uchiyama wouldn’t have challenged the highly-regarded Japan-based Venezuelan and would have had a world crack at the then WBC super-feather belt against also formidable and pugnacious Mexican Humberto Soto with less possibility to be crowned than against Salgado.
Granados, a 35-year-old Venezuelan version of Thomas Hearns in terms of physique (not power-punching), recently lost to Colombian Likar Ramos via unanimous verdict in a quest for the vacant WBA interim 130-pound belt last November. The very lanky Venezuelan had registered his career-best important triumph over current WBA interim lightweight ruler Miguel Acosta by a third-round knockout in 2003.
You may cynically say, “A victory of seven years ago won’t be any credit to him,” but it might be a good publicity for this unheralded basketball-player-like Granados. Better than nothing. We just wonder why Uchiyama and his manager/promoter Hitoshi Watanabe themselves selected such a tall challenger as Granados in a voluntary defense, but it might make sense if we see six defeats by knockout out of his eight previous losses.
Probably they may wish to deck his first defense with a spectacular KO victory, so the flaco (thin man) came here as the challenger to the unbeaten champ. We, however, were really amazed at this exceptional height (185 cm) and reach (192 cm) as a 130-pounder upon his public workout, and at his decent power and speed as well. He may not be so easy an opponent as Uchiyama and Watanabe suppose.
A regrettable avalanche of our world champs losing the belt every week was gloomily witnessed by our aficionados, as highly-reputed WBC bantam kingpin Hozumi Hasegawa was dethroned by Fernando Montiel and WBA super-fly champ Nobuo Nashiro forfeited his throne to also Mexican veteran Hugo Cazares via unanimous nod—in succession.
We suffered from nightmare of an unforgettable avalanche where three Japanese world champs lost the crown in a row in 1971 — as Hiroshi Kobayashi, making his seventh defense, lost his WBA 130-pound belt to Venezuelan Alfredo Marcano by a come-from-behind knockout, Shozo Saijo forfeited his WBA feather title to Antonio Gomez, Venezuela, via fifth round KO, and WBC 130-pound titlist Yoshiaki Numata, making his fourth defense, also said a farewell to his throne on a tenth-round KO at the hand of Mexican Ricardo Arredondo. They took place in July through October that year. Then the world champs in Japan thus reduced from five to two in just 73 days. It was Masao Ohba that halted the notorious avalanche by keeping his WBA flyweight crown via nearly shutout decision over top-rated Fernando Cabanella in October, 1971. Perhaps our fight fans wouldn’t like to recall those three title bouts, which, however, were the fact.
It was funny that our press people definitely refrain from mentioning the three successive forfeitures of our champs (Kobayashi, Saijo and Numata), as it might be such a bad jinx that it will badly influence the new champ Uchiyama and unnecessarily irritate his manager Watanabe, 59, a rather nervous six-footer and ex-middleweight contender.
We hope Uchiyama will be the man, like Masao Ohba thirty-nine years ago, that will stop the fistic avalanche. As this reporter previously wrote, we don’t like to watch our world champs lose the belt every week.
In a supporting world title go, WBA female super-fly champ Tsunami Tenkai (15-3, 5 KOs) will face compatriot Kayoko Ebata (3-2, 2 KOs; with an amateur mark 14-3) over ten two-minute rounds. It will be Tenkai’s second defense as well as a tune-up bout prior to her next confrontation with WBA interim ruler Carolina Gutierrez of Argentina.
Today there was a weigh-in ceremony at the Korakuen Hall, where their weight was as follows: Uchiyama 130, Granados 129.25, Tenkai 113.75 and Ebata 113.5.
The WBA officials are as follows: as for the WBA 130-pound title bout: referee Silvestre Abainza (Philippines), judges Derek Milham (Australia), Raul Caiz Jr. (US) and Pinit Prayadsab (Thailand)
and as for the WBA female 115-pound title go: referee Caiz Jr.; judges Abainza, Milham and Prayadsab.
The supervisor is the WBA vice-president Yangsup Shim (Korea).
The Uchiyama-Granados title bout will start at 8:08 pm tomorrow at the small arena of the Saitama Super Arena, the capacity of which is 6,500 (though the big arena’s capacity is supposedly 40,000).
It will be presented by Watanabe Promotions in association with Teiken Promotions.