One of the saddest things about Asian boxing over the last 3 or 4 years has been the case of Katsunari Takayama (26-6-0-1, 10). The man handed in his JBC license to chase the IBF world title all over the globe and was sadly missed by the Japanese fans who struggled to see him live in action.
Thankfully the JBC welcomed Takayama back earlier this year with the IBF Minimumweight title in tow and he repaid both the JBC and the fans with a performance to remember.
Defending his belt for the first time Takayama took on young Filipino challenger Vergilio Silvano (17-3-1, 10) and made a statement from the off.
The first round saw Takayama rocking Silvano with a hard shot. It didn't put Silvano down, but would have put many lesser men down. This was Takayama saying "don't under-estimate my power" and laying down a marker on power, with many feeling the edge there was with Silvano.
Takayama then slowly started going through the gears, his speed was sensation with both hand and foot and he was nipping in and out at will. Silvano, left to punch at air, must have wondered what he was doing in the ring with Takayama who was like a ghost at times.
Left chasing shadows and being out punched and out landed Silvano appeared a beaten man after just 4 rounds as Takayama moved into third gear. He wasn't hurting Silvano too badly in terms of physical pain but Silvano was clearly struggling and as we all know missing an opponent with shots is draining mentally, physically and emotionally.
By round 5 Takayama's movement had become less "in-out" and more circling in the pocket. It was perpetual movement by a man with an amazing engine and he wasn't just circling the challenger but unload every book in the book. The straight right was like a laser guided shot up stairs, the rights to the midsection were vicious and Silvano simply couldn't cope with the variation or the speed.
The one thing Silvano had in his favour was his toughness. He was being out boxed, out punched and generally beaten by a man who was just far too good. To his credit though Silvano did try coming forward and tried to make a fight out of it. Sadly he was just unable too and when he did come forward Takayama showed off his defensive skills to neutralise the challenger.
Round after round we saw Takayama doing the same thing, though it appeared in round 9 that the champion was deciding to slow down his output and trade it off against landing more meaningful shots. It was as if he thought that he'd like to try and stop Silvano. This saw Silvano given a torrid time in round 10 as Takayama put the hurting on to his body
By round 11 Takayama was ridiculously confident that he was in charge and actually started taunting Silvano who had become a bit of a mini-heavy bag. The Japanese fighter was looking chuffed with his work and with good reason, he had clearly won 10 if not 11 of the preceding rounds whilst Silvano had merely survived them.
With the decision in the bag no one would have blamed Takayama for taking his foot off the gas, instead he fought round 12 just as he had fought many of the previous round. He was busy, active and whilst the stoppage had become highly unlikely he wasn't going to cruise the final round instead taking the fight to Silvano who was probably fortunate it wasn't a 15 round bout. In fact had it been 12, 15 or a fight to the finish we dare say that Takayama would have kept going with the same intensity as he had shown here.
By the time the scorecards were read out there no doubting who had won, though there was some wonderment as to how many rounds the judges could see Silvano taking. These seemed relatively generous to Silvano with 2 of the judges seeing the fight 118-110 whilst the third had a shut out all in favour of Takayama. We had Takayama winning 119-111 giving a pity round to Silvano.
We're really hoping it won't take another 4 years to see Takayama in action in Japan. This guy is too good to keep away from the Japanese audience. Saying that however, we are expecting his next fight to be overseas as he's rumoured to be facing Xiong Zhao Zhong in China next April. On this performance Takayama easily out points the tank like Zhong over 12 entertaining but 1-sided rounds.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.