By Joe Koizumi
Foreign people may think Japan is still rich enough to stage many world title bouts, but it is not true. Japan, under recession, isn’t Saudi Arabia, with no petroleum but some boxing prospects. The brightest young men out of Japan will have ambitious shots at world championships tomorrow (Monday; our national holiday of Coming-of-Age Day) at the Tokyo Big Site.
Unbeaten ex-OPBF 130-pound champ Takashi Uchiyama (13-0, 10 KOs) will square off against also unbeaten newly crowned WBA super-feather ruler Juan Carlos Salgado (22-0-1, 16 KOs), Mexico, with his belt at stake over twelve rounds in the main event. Uchiyama, 91-22 with 59 stoppages as multi-year national amateur champ, acquired the vacant OPBF belt by halting Aussie veteran Hussein Hussein in eight furious rounds in September 2007, and impressively kept it five times with four wins within the distance to his credit. Uchiyama, who can punch and box, is truly the most expected here thanks to his unblemished pro mark.
Salgado, five years his junior at 25, stunned the boxing world by dispatching and dethroning previously unbeaten and highly regarded Jorge Linares via pulverizing first-round stoppage here last October. This is his initial defense to prove whether he won with a lucky punch (golpe de suerte) or not. Also fortunate may be Uchiyama, who wouldn’t have challenged Linares if still reigning, but now welcomes his opportunity to face the less formidable Salgado.
WBA super-bantam champ Poonsawat Kratingdaeng-gym (39-1, 28 KOs), Thailand, will put his belt on the line against former OPBF feather titlist, unbeaten Satoshi Hosono (16-0, 12 KOs) in the first world title go. This is also a very interesting confrontation of hard-punchers. Poonsawat, then WBA interim champ, unified the WBA belts by demolishing gutsy Irish pride, full champ Bernard Dunne in three quick sessions last September. This is his first defense since, and he will prove his high reputation before Japanese aficionados.
Hosono, only once national amateur champ with an ordinary mark of 40-23, 20 stoppages, is nicknamed “Bazooka” because of his tremendous power punching, even if he isn’t such an excellent boxer in terms of speed and skills. The unbeaten hard-hitter, handled by ex-WBC/WBA 105-pound champ Hideyuki Ohashi, gained the vacant OPBF 126-pound belt by outscoring compatriot Makyo Sugita in October 2008. The Japanese bazooka registered three defenses, having lately scored a very important triumph over former world challenger Hiroyuki Enoki on the undercard of the Salgado-Linares title bout last October.
Today there was a weigh-in ceremony, where all contestants scaled in at their class limits: Salgado and Uchiyama at 130, and Poonsawat and Hosono at 122.
The WBA officials are economically appointed as follows:
As for the Salgado-Uchiyama 130-pound title bout: referee Raul Caiz Sr. (US); judges Tom Miller (US), Rafael Ramos (US) and Chalerm Prayadsab (Thailand).
As for the Poonsawat-Hosono 122-pound title game: referee Rafael Ramos (US); judges Tom Miller (US), Raul Caiz Sr. (US) and Michael Lee (Korea).
The WBA supervisor for both bouts is Jose Oliver Gomez (Panama).
Now it is a computerized world, so this reporter may attempt to estimate our Japanese challengers’ winning possibility in numbers. Uchiyama will have a 50% possibility of winning the belt by considering his local advantage since the 30-year-old muscular Japanese may have superior physical strength, punching power and determination, even though Salgado is younger, taller by an inch and more confident because of his annihilation of Linares. Only uncertain is Uchiyama’s untested chin, which may be really verified tomorrow.
“Bazooka” Hosono, three years his junior at 26, may have a 40% possibility against Poonsawat who has lost to none in forty bouts but Wladimir Sidorenko on points in Germany in 2006. Reviewing the champ’s previous credentials, we see he is a very excellent and dangerous boxer. The Thailander, in his only fourth pro bout, acquired the PABA bantam belt and retained it seventeen times straight before winning the WBA interim 118-pound belt from Ricardo Cordova in Thailand in 2005. Having defeated formerly four-class champ Leo Gamez in his first defense, Poonsawat failed to unify the WBA bantam belts, losing to Sidorenko by a unanimous nod.
Then the Thai fighting machine moved up to the 122-pound category and gained the PABA super-bantam throne and kept it eleven times prior to his acquisition of the WBA interim belt by stopping Carlos Lopez in nine heats last April. Poonsawat, the two-class world kingpin, is a shorter but faster boxer-puncher whose specialty is a devastating left hook with which he badly dropped Bernard Dunne in Dublin four months ago. Hosono, a one-punch KO artist as shown in his first-round demolition of Filipino champ Jeffrey Onate, may have a puncher’s chance.
This show featuring the first world title bouts of this year is presented by Teiken Promotions in association with Watanabe and Ohashi Promotions.