Sadly today we had one of those unintentional incidents curtailing what had looked like a brilliant WBO Minimumweight title bout between teenager Riku Kano (10-2-1, 5) and war torn veteran Katusnari Takayamo (31-8-0-1, 12). Not only did the incident curtail the bout but it left a disappointing taste in the mouth of all involved, including the winner, who was distraught at the conclusion of the action.
The bout started well with an intriguing first round that began as a feeling out round but heated up well with both men managing to get into their groove in the late stages. When the fighters were in full swing Kano was finding a home for his eye catching left hand whilst Takayama was looking to turn the fight into a brawl, knowing that the style would favour him and his style.
Having warmed up Takayama began to run through the gears in round 2 as he put Kano under pressure. The youngster coped well, landing a number of eye catching counters, but was certainly under pressure with Takayama ending the round well with his movement and aggression befotre throwing his hands up to the crowd to celebrate.
Sadly that previously mentioned injury occurred early in round 3 when a clash of heads left Takayama with a nasty cut over the left eye. The eye, which had been cut several times during the course of Takayama's long and thrilling career, didn't look like it was an immediately bad cute but it was in some well known scar tissue of Takayama's and was a clear target for Kano's straight.
The cut forced a sense of urgency in Takayama who went all out to try and defeat Kano, speeding up the pressure and forcing Kano on to the back foot. The counters were still coming from the youngster but they were fewer than they had been earlier in the fight whilst Takayama was clearly upping the ante. Kano tried to do what he could to slow Takayama, both fighting back and holding, but the veteran wasn't to be denied the round making sure to end it really well.
Takayama's high pressure and output continued in to round 4 as the veteran looked to take a march on the score-cards. The cut, didn't seem like it would be immediately fight ending but it was certainly getting worse and with Takayama's style it seemed like a ticking time bomb, especially given that the bout would need 4 completed rounds to get a result. Despite the cut Takayama was now bullying Kano around the ring and landed a brilliant right hand near the bell putting the youngster fully on the back foot and into the defensive.
Takayama's relentless assault continued to begin round 5 before he got on his toes and showed a spring in his step, almost taunting the youngster. That dancing however didn't last long as a left hand from Kano got through. The left hand should have been a moment of notable success for Kano however Takayama took the shot and quickly cornered Takayama unloading a ferocious assault. Kano saw out the attack and thwarted Takayama's offensive foray. Takayama's offensive foray was followed by another and it was obvious that the veteran was piling up the rounds with his work rate.
Round 6 started much like the others, with Takayama on the front foot. Kano however seemed to have his successes in the opening 30 seconds with Takayama walking on to shots as Kano used clever movement to open up some space. That space was quickly taken away from the youngster with Takayama putting his foot on to the gas. Sadly however the time-bomb on Takayama's face was going off and blood oozed down his face forcing the referee to take him over to the doctor who took a few moments before ending the bout.
With the bout over Takayama was in tears, looking like a man who had lost everything. He seemed to feel that he had been stopped due to the cut, almost as if he didn't realise the stoppage was caused by a clash of heads and not a punch. The tears, which contained a lot of blood, showed what the bout had meant to him and it looked almost like he was ready to walk away from the sport. Although Takayama was confused on the ending the referee wasn't, telling the judges to “score the round”, making it clear that the fight ending cut was from the clash of heads in round 3.
After a few moments wait we finally saw the cards being read with Takayama's arm being raised, giving him the beginning of another title reign, his 5 if you include his reign as the WBC “interim” champion. For Kano however it was heart break, his plan of taking the old man down late had been destroyed by the cut and the way it had inspired the warrior spirit in the veteran.
The loss sees Kano missing out on the Japanese record of the youngest world champion, but we wouldn't be surprised to see him coming again, potentially in a rematch later this year. His goal of breaking the 29 year record of Hiroki Ioka may have failed but this isn't the last we'll see of the Taisei fighter who still has a long and successful future ahead.
For those interested in the particular,s the cards read 59-59, 59-56 and 58-56 all to Takayama.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)