Although he's the "forgotten champion" on the Japanese domestic scene Takayama is very credible fighter and a man who has held his title for almost 2 years and already made 3 defences. Unfortunately he's over-shadowed not just be Kamegai in his division and the other champions across the various divisions and also his own stable mates, many of whom are simply more exciting, more engaging and more interesting than Takayama. Fighters like Shuhei Tsuchiya, Hiroki Okada and Kyotaro Fujimoto all steal the headlines whilst Takayama fades into the background.
Another thing that hurts Takayama is his competition. He's been facing the top contenders but they simply lack any recognition themselves and worst of all the fights are hard to find video of making it almost impossible for fight fans to spread the word about him. It's a shame but it's what's happened unfortunately.
The next challenger for Takayama's Welterweight title is Koshinmaru Saito (20-5-1, 11), who is actually the man he beat to win the title back in 2012.
In their first meeting Saito gave a good account of himself though came up short on the score cards in a battle for the then vacant title. Sadly for Saito that was his third title effort and his third title bid having previously lost, by stoppage, to Daisuke Nakagawa and Akinori Watanabe, both of whom are big punchers and exciting fighters to watch.
Unfortunately when you look through Saito's record there is nothing on there that stands out except for his title bids. No other opponents have any name value. On paper he looks good but in reality its difficult to say and his best result was the close loss to Takayama in their first bout.
Just like the first bout we're expecting to see Takayama winning. We suspect this will be a competitive bout but we only expect one man to win, and in fact we expect this to be scored wider than their first bout with Takayama having improved whilst Saito has aged. It may be Saito's last chance but it's probably come a bit too late.
Ranked #1 in the Japanese rankings Saito is the obvious challenger but he's an uninspiring opponent and in all honesty this fight should lead the way to the only fight that matters in the Japanese Welterweight scene. Takayama Vs Kamegai. Come on guys, lets have that one made for early next year!
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)