Sadly the lack of talent leaves the country with a weak champion in the form of Suyon Takayama (21-1, 7). On paper Takayama looks good but in reality he's a poor champion and his reign, which dates back to December 2012, has seen him record 4 decision wins with 3 of them being razor thin.
This week Takayama returns to the ring as he looks to record his 5th defense and record his second win over Nobuyuki Shindo (16-2, 6), the mandatory challenger for the title.
These two men first met back in 2008 East Japan Rookie of the Year final. In that bout Takayama took a razor thin decision over Shindo and later went on to win the Welterweight Rookie of the Year just a few weeks later. Going into their first meeting both men were unbeaten fighters looking to make a name for themselves.
Since the first meeting between the two men both have lost just once. Takayama's loss came in 2011 when he lost a split decision to Yuichi Ideta. Since then he has racked up 9 straight wins, including 5 in title bouts. Sadly for Takayama he has only notched 2 stoppages in those 9 wins. As for Shindo his loss came in December 2012 when he was narrowly beaten by Moon Hyun Yun. Since that loss Shindo has recorded 4 wins, with 3 stoppages.
Although not a great fighter Takayama has proven to be difficult to beat. He is defensively sound, works hard and often manages to “just do enough” to win rounds. His key strength has been work rate which is solid though a lack of power, especially at Welterweight is a problem and will prevent him from ever reaching a level beyond Japanese domestic level.
We've got to admit we've not managed to see much of Shindo though from what we do know he is a tall, lanky southpaw who is starting to grow into into strength. Early in his career he really struggled with his power and stopped only 2 of his first 11 opponents. Since then he has racked up 4 stoppages in 6 bouts and developed his skills.
What we're expecting to see is an interesting fight though not the most exciting. We suspect Shindo will try to make the most of his size and his south stance though flaws in his skillset will allow Takayama to get inside and make things competitive. The question is how often can Takayama get inside given that he will be giving around 6” in height and notable reach.
If Takayama can get inside and make the most of his opportunities then there is a really good chance he can grind out another razor thin decision. If Shindo can make the most of his his size then we can see the title changing hands.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)