When we talk about the most successful Japanese fighters of all time it's hard to deny that former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) deserves to be in the conversation. He was one of the longest reigning Japanese champions in history, he managed to notch up numerous notable defenses during his long and successful career. Between 2010 and 2016 he was one of the most important men to Japanese boxing, one of the true standouts for the country and for the Super Featherweight division.
Despite being a major star at home things never worked out for Uchiyama when it came to fighting abroad, despite talks taking place to get him to fight in the US. As a result many fans who don't follow the sport closely, and don't go out of their way to watch international boxing, missed out on Uchiyama, his career, his reign and his significance to Japanese boxing.
With that in mind we've decided to take a look back over Uchiyama's career and bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Takashi Uchiyama.
1-Juan Carlos Salgado (January 11th 2010)
After turning professional in 2006, following a very solid amateur career, Uchiyama quietly climbed through the ranks in his first 13 bouts, going 13-0 (10). Up to that point he hadn't done too much, with his biggest win being his 2007 KO win over Nedal Hussein, to claim the OPBF title that he defended 5 times. That all changed in 2010 when he took on unbeaten Mexican Juan Carlos Salgado, who had won his title in a huge upset win over Jorge Linares in 2009.
Salgado was looking to make his first defense and was taking on the unbeaten, but unknown, Uchiyama. On paper this seemed like an interesting one, but given how Salgado had taken care of Linares there was some feeling that he could well be something a bit special. Sadly for Salgado it turned out that it was Uchiyama who was a bit special, with the talented Japanese fighter controlling the bout behind his technical boxing and solid power, before closing the show in the 12th round to claim the WBA title to begin his legendary world title reign. This win helped put Uchiyama on the map and at the age of 30 was one he needed if he was ever going to be anything in the sport.
2-Takashi Miura (January 31st 2011)
Despite being 30 when he won the WBA title Uchiyama’s reign began in less than great fashion and his first two defenses were relatively meaningless. The first was against Angel Granados, a physical freak but a limited fighter, and the second was against Roy Mukhlis, who began to rack up losses after losing to Uchiyama. Thankfully in his third defense Uchiyama finally faced someone who would become more than just a footnote in the boxing history books. Instead of taking on some foreign opponent, again, who went on to do nothing, he instead took on fellow Japanese fighter Takashi Miura. This would be Uchiyama’s first bout against a Japanese fight since 2008 and would prove to be one of his most important wins.
The bout saw the heavy handed Miura, a former Japanese national champion, show how dangerous he was, dropping Uchiyama in round 3. Uchiyama would bounce back from that knockdown to break down Miura, leaving the challenger with a badly swollen face that forced him to be stopped after 8 rounds. This was a win that boost Uchiyama’s standing in the sport a few years later, when Miura himself would claim the WBC title, and become a very notable name himself. This win aged marvellously for Uchiyama, and it also helped Miura, who ended up moving over to the Teiken soon after this bout, and being given better training and better opportunities himself, despite losing. This was a rare win-win for the fighters involved. It’s just a shame we never got the much hoped for rematch when both men were champions.
3-Bryan Vasquez (December 31st 2012)
Following his win over Miura we saw Uchiyama take on some other notable names, including Jorge Solis, who he beat at the end of 2011. Exactly 1 year after that win Uchiyama scored another win that aged well, and that was an 8th round TKO win over Costa Rican foe Bryan Vasquez.
“El Tiquito”, as he was known, was 29-0 at the time and was a promising youngster who seemed to have plenty about him, but was stepping up massively. He gave a solid effort against Uchiyama before being stopped. At the time it seemed like another typical defense for Uchiyama. One that might look good on paper but mean little afterwards, much like his wins against Mukhlis and Solis. Instead however Vasquez went on to have a very credible career of his own, claiming the WBA “interim” Super Featherweight title, beating the likes of Rene Gonzalez and Sergio Thompson, and giving really serious tests to Javier Fortuna, Raymundo Beltran and Felix Verdejo. Amazingly Uchiyama was the only man to stop him, despite the opponents he later faced.
4-Daiki Kaneko (December 31st 2013)
A focus of this series isn’t the “biggest” wins for the fighter but the most “significant” and there are few fights on Uchiyama’s record as significant as his 2013 bout against fellow Japanese fighter Daiki Kaneko. The bout was regarded by those in Japan as Japan’s version of Carl Froch Vs George Groves, with the vertan champion taking on the young upstart. The old lion looking to remain the king of the table. The bout ended up not with Uchiyama winning, but also as a genuine instant classic. It was high level technical boxing for the most part, but then there was drama late on, with Uchiyama being dropped, being hurt, needing to dig deep and needing to take the fight back to Kaneko. It was fantastic to watch and was expected to lead to Kaneko becoming a key contender in the division, especially given the very good performance he gave here.
Sadly the bout was the start of the end. For both men. Uchiyama was 34 when he scored this win, and he would fight for the final just 3 years later. Kaneko on the other hand would fight on until 2017, but went 9-3 after this and never managed to get another world title fight, sadly. Rather notably this was the only time Uchiyama won a decision in a world title bout, proving he had the stamina, the heart, the determination and the skills to alongside his brutal power.
5-Jomthong Chuwatana (May 6th 2015)
By the start of 2015 Uchiyama was still the WBA Super Featherweight champion, but was becoming an old man. He was still very much one of the best Super Featherweights on the planet, but it seemed like his reign would end sooner or later. Entering his bout with unbeaten Thai Jomthong Chuwatana some, including ourselves, expected Uchiyama to struggle. He was old, and slowing, with injuries piling up. Jomthong on the other hand was a Muay Thai standout, with a rock solid chin, a talented and technical southpaw, and a man who had been battle hardened in Muay Thai before heading to professional boxing and claiming the OPBF title. Coming into this one he had beaten Daiki Kaneko just a few months earlier and seemed a very, very live under-dog.
In the ring we were expecting a solid test for the champion. Instead Uchiyama cleaned out Jomthong in round 2, taking out the tough Thai. Uchiyama knocked him clean out. This was, in many ways, Uchiyama’s final big win. He would defend the belt once more, stopping Oliver Flores, before losing the title in 2016 to Jezzrel Corrales and then losing in a rematch to Corrales, at the end of 2016, and retiring in 2017.
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