By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Boxing Beat
Unbeaten WBA super-feather champ Takashi Uchiyama (19-0-1, 16 KOs), 129.75, Japan, impressively unified the 130-pound belts as he overwhelmed previously unbeaten interim titlist Bryan Vasquez (29-1, 15 KOs), 130, Costa Rica, all the way and finally halted him at 3:00 of the eighth session on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. Uchiyama, 33, registered his sixth defense with five within the distance and displayed his career-best performance.
Just when the referee Raul Caiz Jr. halted the champ’s onslaught, the bell sounded to signal the end of the sixth round. So, though the TKO time was 3:00, it wasn’t the loser’s surrender in the corner but the third man’s stoppage to save him from further punishment.
Uchiyama looked physically bigger than the Costa Rican. The Japanese was 5’8″, three inches taller than Vasquez. The champ’s reach was 71 inches to 66.5 for the challenger. Vasquez’s only advantage along with his age, 25, was that he had a stronger wife in WBO female welter champ Hanna Gabriel, while Uchiyama was single.
Uchiyama made a positive start, tossing solid jabs to the cautious footworker Vasquez and a few long rights to the face. The second saw the Costa Rican abruptly connect with a quick overhand right, which the champ barely averted with his high guard. Uchiyama, making his sixth defense since dethroning Juan Carlos Salgado some three years ago, kept on making good use of his left hand in jabbing and left-hooking the switch-hitting footworker.
Uchiyama was in command in the third and fourth sessions thanks to his leading lefts with which he kept on stalking the interim champ. The Japanese champ accelerated his attack to the face and to the midsection as well in the fifth. Vasquez probably wished to turn more aggressive, but Uchiyama’s pressure was such that he couldn’t stop backpedalling all the way.
The sixth was competitive and interesting. Vasquez became loose with quick and strong three-punch combinations, which Uchiyama blocked well with his tight guard. The champ responded with an effective combination of left hook to the body and to the face.
The seventh saw Vasquez turn very loose from the start. He came out fighting with a flurry of punches, but Uchiyama covered himself up and retaliated with stronger and more accurate combinations. The champ’s body shots were solid and effective enough to have Vasquez wince for a while. Despite the Costa Rican’s aggressiveness all the judges had tallied it in favor of the champ.
In the fatal eighth, Uchiyama had the engine run full force as he kept punching the retreating switch-hitter. The champ had him backpedalling from pillar to post. His connection of punches looked superb enough to weaken Vasquez very effectively. The patient referee finally called a halt to the helpless interim champ. Some reporter kindly counted the number of Uchiyama’s combinations, which allegedly was fifty-nine and most of which were accurate. The loser’s cornermen accepted the third man’s stoppage.
Prior to the well-timed stoppage, the official tallies were as follows: Carlos Sucre (US) 70-63, Silvestre Abainza (Philippines) 68-64 and Stanley Christodoulou (South Africa) 68-65, all in favor of Uchiyama.
The crestfallen loser said in his dressing room, “It’s hard to accept my first defeat, but I respect Uchiyama. He was superior to me by all means. All his punches were strong and accurate. I wished to utilize my footwork to have him missing more, but our strategy didn’t work well.”
The WBA established another interim champ in Yuriorkis Gamboa, who will be Uchiyama’s official challenger in nine months after his successful defense on the last day of the year. It will be a greatly anticipated confrontation between the hard-punchers. Uchiyama said, “In my last defense, I repented of my performance as I had a technical draw with Michael Farenas due to an accidental butt. So, I strongly hoped to finish Vasquez to show a KO victory to my supporters and TV watchers. I know I will have to face Gamboa in the near future, and what I must do is to win each fight.”
In the last round of the previous title bout between Tepparith and Kono, the main light of the arena inexplicably went out. Under the dark light they fought the final round without any disturbance to the processing. It was good it didn’t happen again during the main event.
We now have eight world champions here, as follows:
WBA super-feather: Takashi Uchiyama
WBC bantam: Shinsuke Yamanaka
WBA bantam: Koki Kameda
WBC super-fly: Yota Sato
WBA super-fly: Kohei Kono
WBC fly: Toshiyuki Igarashi
WBA light-fly: Kazuto Ioka
WBA minimum: Ryo Miyazaki
The Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) has decided to affiliate with the WBO and the IBF from 2013, though it had authorized only the WBC and the WBA for a long time. We may have more world champions, but it is the next year’s matter. We truly realized that we, fight scribes, had difficulties covering too many title bouts in one night. How many world title bouts will be held here on the last day of 2013?
WBA supervisor: Robert Mack (US).
Promoters: Watanabe Promotions in association with Teiken Promotions.