The same is true in parts of Asia. Traditionally fighters will win a national title, before a regional title and then on to world titles. It's true that fighters do often skip stages but many do go, or try to go, the traditional route using each level as a stepping stone.
One fighter trying to take that step up this week is former Japanese Welterweight champion, and current OPBF “interim” champion, Suyon Takayama (24-1, 8) who takes on the OPBF champion Jack Brubaker (10-1-1, 5) this coming Monday in a bout shown over the www.boxingraise.com website.
Aged 30 this is a step for the once beaten Takayama, who has won his last 12 in an unbeaten 6 year run. That run saw him claim the Japanese title in December 2012 and record an impressive 6 defenses. As the champion Takayama beat the likes of Koshinmaru Saito, Cobra Suwa, Moon Hyun Yun and Nobuyuki Shindo. Amazingly however he failed to stop any of the top Japanese fighters and went the distance in all 7 of his title bouts at Japanese level. Whilst that proved his stamina his also also show his lack of power.
At the turn of the year Takayama vacated the national title to focus on the OPBF title and claimed the interim belt in February, when he stopped Filipino fighter Joel De La Cruz. That was Takayama's first stoppage win since November 2012 and it said more about De la Cruz than Takayama, with the Filipino suffering his 10th stoppage loss.
In the ring Takayama has a great engine, a brilliant will to win a genuine grit. He lacks power, he lacks amazing speed and in fairness very little, other than his stamina, really impress. But he's hard to beat and will continue to be so at the level he's fighting. He will however never make a genuine mark on the world stage.
As for Brubaker the 24 year old Australian also has just a single loss to his name, coming in an Australian national title fight at 140lbs. Since then he has moved up in weight and strung together 5 straight wins, including his title winning effort against China's Xing Xin Yang and a single defense of the title against Paddy Murphy. Again Yang we were impress by Brubaker who looked like a promising fighter as he boxed carefully behind a good jab, found a range for his right hand and dropped Yang twice in the opening round before finishing him in the 4th. Although Brubaker impressed Yang did look terrible was out of his depth from the opening bell.
Although he has looked impressive in his last couple of bouts it's hard to really know how good he is given that his competition hasn't been great. He is however a fight who appears to be developing, appears to hit harder than his record suggests and comes to fight. There are a lot of holes in his defence but there is a lot to like about, and his jab is sharp with some crisps coming off of it.
When we see the men in the ring we're expecting to see Brubaker fight on the outside whilst Takayama will try and turn it into a fight. If Brubaker has the energy to avoid a fight and can pick off the challenger with his jab he should be able to take a clear win. If however Takayama can get inside and turn it into a fight then we'd favour Takayama to out work and out point Brubaker for the title over 12 compelling rounds.