This coming Wednesday we see the top fight in the division in action, WBA “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama's (24-0-1, 20) [内山 高志] defending his title against the WBA's “interim” champion Jezreel Corrales (19-1-0-1, 7). For Uchiyama it's his 12th defense of the title, and sees him take a huge step towards the Japanese title defense record, of 13 defenses by Yoko Gushiken, and setting a Super Featherweight world record, whilst giving Corrales a chance to make a big statement about himself on the world stage.
Of the two fighters it's Corrales who is the less known and the clear under-dog, however the Panamanian is a confident fighter who will feel he is ready for this opportunity having managed to pick up number of solid victories at home. Those solid victories have included decision wins against Rene Alvarado and Irving Berry as well as stoppages over Walter Estrada and Juan Antonio Rodriguez. They might not be top tier wins, but they do suggest that Corrales is a capable fighter who can hold his own on the fringes of world class, at the very least.
In the ring Corrales looks not only a confident fighter, but also a very good one with a lot of technical ability, sharp offensive and very impressive defense. That defense is based on a shoulder roll with his speed and reactions helping him turn offense into defense and from the footage available he does, sort of, look like a young Floyd Mayweather Jr. Their is a very educated boxing brain in his head and whilst he's certainly no banger it's become clear that he can hurt fighters with his accurate and quick shots. Notably he has also been seen to be a switch hitter and appears to be a fighter who is extremely comfortable in the ring.
When it comes to Uchiyama the 36 year old champion has been one of the shining stars of Japanese boxing and one of the few constants in the Super Featherweight division over the last 6 years. He was a former top Japanese amateur who turned professional and raced through the ranks, winning an OPBF title in his 8th bout and the WBA title in his 14th. Whilst he was fast tracked he has also scored notable wins stopping the likes of Nedal Hussein, Juan Carlos Salgado, Takashi Miura, Jorge Solis, Bryan Vasquez and Jomthong Chuwatana, essentially ending Chuwatana's prime as a fighter.
In the ring Uchiyama can look a little bit basic, he's not flashy or anything like that. What he is however is excellently well school, technically he's fantastic and uses a brilliant jab to set off almost all of his attacks. He's gifted with some of the heaviest handed, pound for pound, in the sport and every shot he lands takes a toll on an opponent, with many being beaten down as fights go on. When he feels like he's in with a good opponent we see the best from Uchiyama, who has amazingly fought much of his career with serious injuries which have reportedly been sorted in recent years, suggesting that at 36 we're only just starting to see Uchiyama at his best physically.
Coming in to this one we're expecting to see Uchiyama given a genuine stylistic test. Corrales has the style to really frustrate the champion with his brilliant defense and speed. Despite being a frustrating opponent we do suspect that Uchiyama will mark out his territory with the jab, and eventually grind down Corrales, for a late stoppage. However we do imagine that Corrales will come again in the future and could turn out to be a very good win on reflection for Uchiyama.
If Uchiyama is, as we suspect, successful then he'll be looking to make a US debut later in the year whilst also tying Gushiken's record. Hopefully that would see him finally receiving the international plaudits that he has, so far, lacked.