On Tuesday afternoon in Japan it was announced that the upcoming contest between Katsunari Takayama (27-7-0-1, 10) and Go Odaira (11-3-3, 1) would not just be for the vacant IBF Minimumweight title but also the vacant WBO Minimumweight title, making the winner of the bout a unified champion.
According to reliable sources this has happened after Francisco Rodriguez Jr announced he was unable to make the 105lb limit and been forced to vacate the WBO title as a result, with the former unified champion now moving his focus to 108lbs, the Light Flyweight division.
The move is an incredibly interesting one with a lot of knock on effects. Firstly it will allow Takayama a chance to become the first Japanese fighter fighter to hold all 4 titles, having previously held the WBC and WBA belts. It will also lead to an immediate unified champion, a status that is rare across boxing with only a handful of fighters currently holding unified titles. It will, of course, amplify the nature of the bout, and importantly it will close the possible options for Kosei Tanaka who may have had eyes on picking up a vacant title early in 2015, instead Tanaka would have to fight one of the existing champions, either the winner of this bout, the unbeaten WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin or WBA champion Hekkie Budler.
The bout, set to take place on December 31st, may not attract a lot of international attention but for both men this is a must win contest and whilst the talk might be about Takayama becoming "grandslam" champion it could well end a perfect year for Odaira who would have come out of nowhere to end the year a unified champion were he to win.
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