December 31st features a 5 world title fights in Japan, spread across 3 different cities. The bouts all see Japanese champions defending their titles against foreign fighters and all are being televised across various platforms.
The most distinguished of those champions is the unbeaten Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19) who looks to record his 11th defense of the WBA Super Featherweight title, or more exactly the second defense of the “Super” version of the title. In the opposite corner to the heavy handed “KO Dynamite” will be a man looking to make a mark on the world scene, the little known Oliver Flores (27-1-2, 17).
The 36 year old champion is one of the longest reigning champions in the sport. He won his title in way back in January 2010, when he stopped Juan Carlos Salgado, and has since defended it against both top contenders and relative nobodies. Whilst wins over Roy Mukhlis and Angel Granados will be easily forgotten wins over the likes of Takashi Miura, Jorge Solis, Bryan Vasquez and Jomthong Chuwatana are likely to stand the test of time.
In the ring Uchiyama is a very special fighter and despite his age still looks like a youthful fighter who does have time on his side. He's a monstrous puncher, with real venom in both hands, he's technically very solid with a smart boxing mind and works off a heavy jab with ease. Not only is he talented and heavy handed but he's also tough, defensively sound and and has an excellent understanding of pacing, which has seen him speed up and slow down bouts almost at will. If he does have flaws in his boxing it's really his speed, which is unexceptional, though that is less of an issue given his timing and control.
Whilst Uchiyama has already sealed his place among the modern Japanese greats he does still have some targets. One of those is to set the Japanese record for most defenses, a record that currently stands at 13 successful defenses. For him a win over Flores is just he next step towards that record. He also hopes to score a big win in the US and make a name for himself internationally. It's thought that if he sees off Flores a deal is in place for him to face Nicholas Walters next year, however could that deal see him taking his eyes off the task at hand?
Whilst Uchiyama is well known, especially by knowledgeable fans who have followed his championship reign, it's fair to say that Flores is a bit of an unknown quantity. The 24 year old is a southpaw from Leon, Nicaragua. Despite being Nicaraguan he actually began making a name for himself in Costa Rica, where he debuted at a prodigious 15 years old and has fought 20 of his career bouts.
As well Costa Rica fans have been able to see Flores fight in Mexico, Nicaragua and, most recently Panama. Sadly however the amount of notable opponents that he's faced are limited with the only real stand out name being Miguel Berchelt, who stopped Flores in 2 rounds back in November 2012. Since that loss, more than 3 years ago, Flores has fought just 4 times, all in Nicaraguan, beating very poor opposition.
On paper there is little for Uchiyama to worry about, however Flores has perhaps one or two things of note to think about. Firstly he's experienced, obviously, secondly he's a southpaw and thirdly he's got experience at a higher weight than Uchiyama, in fact his last 3 bouts have come at Lightweight or above. From footage he has a lot of upper body movement and a relatively sharp jab, but there is little weight behind his shots and he does make a bunch of mistakes, often leaning in too much and leaning over his front foot which will be punished by a fighter like Uchiyama.
From what we've seen of Flores he looks likely to pose absolutely no threat to Uchiyama and despite being a southpaw he's not a fighter who is likely to even pose a question in terms of his stance. His defensive is wide open and given Uchiyama's thunderous power this could be very short. In fact we suspect we ends when Uchiyama chooses to end it, which may well be very early given that he'll want to make a statement ahead of a US bout in 2016.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.