When someone has faced a litany of top class opponents, including Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez and Nkosinathi Joyi we don't mind him fighting a lesser foe and that's exactly what Takayama did today as he faced fellow Japanese fighter Shin Ono (17-6-2, 2) a former OPBF Light Flyweight champion.
Ono had looked like a fighter devoid of confidence at his public work out last week, his team had tried to buoy up his hopes talking about his notable wins over Yu Kimura and Xiong Zhong Zhao. Unfortunately for Ono his lack of confidence seem to reappear at sections in the actual fight, almost as if he remembered he was fighting in a world title fight and he was fighting arguably the best fighter at 105lbs.
The skill difference in the two men was noticeable almost from the off as Takayama just showed he had too many weapons for the challenger and after spending one or two rounds trying to box with Ono, the champion seemed to have a change of tact and went on the offensive realising that Ono lacked the power needed to hurt him. This front foot, offensive march of Takayama saw him landing numerous hard right hands that got the crowd cheering and although he had to take some decent left hands from the southpaw challenger who countered him wonderfully at times to win the odd round here and there.
As we went in to the second half of the fight it was beginning to look like a lost cause for Ono who was being out landed, out worked and back up repeatedly. It was beginning to look more and more one sided and the moments of success for Ono were becoming less frequent. It was as if Takayama was mentally grinding Ono and the challenger was being forced to do all he could to claim a round whilst also learning he couldn't ever get control of the bout.
In round 8 we saw Takayama rocking Ono for one of the first times in the fight as the two men traded solid blows. The similar trading occurred in round 9 though the bigger shots were from Takayama who seemed to hurt Ono again in the final minute as the challenger was backed up from one side of the ring to the other. It was great work from the champion who, although, cut was proving his class despite the televised highlights focussing on the few moments of success from Ono who did land some good lefts, although he was clearly out landed.
With the challenger fading the champion went on determined attack in round 10 and dropped Ono with a long and aggressive flurry. following the knockdown we got to see the lovely footwork of Takayama who danced around the challenger before rocking him hard moments before the bell. By now the bout was sealed and in round 11 a wilting, tiring Ono did what he could to try and fight back against Takayama. The success of Ono in the penultimate round was limited however and instead it was Takayama who was on the offensive landing some lovely shots on to his game but tiring challenger. Ono, to his credit, saw out the round standing.
Going in to the final there wasn't a question of who would win, instead the only question was whether or not Ono would see out the bell. Midway through the round it looked unlikely as Ono was dropped for the second time and Takayama immediately went on the hunt for the stoppage. It was a race against time as to whether or not the champion could force the referee to challenger who was showing the typical Japanese warrior spirit despite the fight being a lost cause and blood seeping from his nose.
With some early rounds having been close and some of the middle rounds having had moments for both the fight was likely to see a range of scores but the two knockdowns in the championship rounds left us with no doubt who the winner was. This was shown in the scorecards which favoured Takayama with scores of 115-111, 115-111 and 117-109 though we do understand some having it close though the first 10 rounds and we do openly confess to being Takayama fans so perhaps we were favouring him as a result.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym)