The upgrade has gotten a fair bit of attention in the Japanese boxing press for various reasons. Some have criticised the decision whilst Uchiyama has said he has "reluctantly" accepted the honour knowing that he had little say in the matter. Whilst the fighter may not have welcomed the honour he does seem to have welcomed the idea of "crushing" the next regular champion when ever one surfaces.
We have to assume the WBA have forced Uchiyama to take an upgraded status to allow them to collect more sanctioning fees. Uchiyama, for all his ability, has become an avoided fighter in the division and in recent years opponents have been less than happy to take on the heavy handed fighter, who is dubbed "KO Dynamite" due to his power. With the WBA now able to collection sanctioning fees from an interim, regular and super champion they won't mind too much that Uchiyama is being avoided.
From Uchiyama's point of view it does relieve some pressure of mandatory title fights, however that's not been a problem for the avoided champion and it's now been more than 2 years since Uchiyama faced a mandatory challenger, at the time Bryan Vasquez. If anything it actually makes life a little bit more difficult for Uchiyama who has made it clear that it's not a "super title" he wants but rather a "super fight", something that isn't easy when the WBA are allowing their top contenders to avoid the champion.
To make life easier for himself Uchiyama has opened the door to fighting on the road. In the past it always seemed that Uchiyama was happy to stay at home to defend his title but his gym chairman has been quoted, earlier today, as saying that Uchiyama now wants to do a fight abroad. Hopefully that will open the door to possible clashes against the likes of Rances Barthelemy, Francisco Vargas or the winner of the upcoming bout between Orlando Salido and Roman Martinez.
Of course Uchiyama also plans to defend his title in May and much touted rematch with WBC champion Takashi Miura does appear to be something both fighters want. This could leave the openings for a fight abroad to be limited. We suspect the general timeline for Uchiyama for this year is a stay busy defence in May, a fight on the road during summer and then the potential Miura rematch on New Years Eve.
Hopefully with Uchiyama now willing to travel he will get at least 1 big fight this year, though it does seem like the division does have relatively slim pickings for the popular Japanese puncher who already has 9 world title defenses under his belt.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)