There's a bit of a quiet period in Asia during August but that comes to an end on August 20th when we get a brilliant world title bout that could potentially see a “torch passing moment” in Japanese boxing, or the final big performance from a genuine modern warrior. The bout in question sees teenager Riku Kano (10-1-1, 5) [加納 陸] attempt to set a Japanese record as he takes on multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (30-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成].
Of the two fighters it's Takayama who is the more well known. The 33 year old has been a modern day Minimumweight legend. He has faced a who's who featuring fighters like Isaac Bustos, Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez, Nkosinathi Joyi, Mario Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Ryuji Hara. Whilst he has suffered losses he has never shown fear of fighting the best, and actually just having a fight.
If you like “pure boxing” and fighters who concentrate on counter punching then Takayama isn't a fighter for you. However if you like fighters who get in the ring, have a war and give non-stop action then Takayama is fighter who really is down your alley, as seen in his 2014 FOTY contender with Rodriguez Jr. Sadly however those wars have taken a toll on his flesh and in recent bouts he has been cutting very easily, as a result he has been ripped wide open in two of his last 3 bouts.
Aged 33 Takayama has been a professional for close to 16 years. During his career he has claimed Japanese national titles along with the WBC, WBA “interim”, IBF and WBO titles and been fighting in world title bouts for more than a decade. He is Japan's first “Grandslam” champion and is a man who knows his legacy is set, but feels there is still more in the tank and that a technical loss to Jose Argumedo last December doesn't have to be the end. He's still full of energy, still aggressive and still a world class fighter but his career has certainly taken a toll on his flesh and he's a fighter who doesn't have much longer left in the sport.
Aged just 18 Kano is viewed as one of the rising stars of Japanese boxing, and along with the Inoues, Kosei Tanaka and fellow teenager Hinata Maruta. Unlike many of the other promising youngsters in Japan Kano actually didn't start his career in Japan, instead however he began almost 3 years ago in the Philippines, before establishing himself in Thailand. In the Philippines he went 1-1-1 but really came into his own in Thailand, where he won the WBA Asia title and proved he could go 12 rounds.
Kano made his Japanese debut last year and in his third bout on Japanese soil he out pointed the very experienced Pigmy Kokietgym. This year, in his fourth bout at home, he claimed the “interim” OPBF Minimumweight title, with a split decision win against former world champion Merlito Sabillo. That win was a serious coming of age performance by Kano who showed his skills, energy, toughness. Those traits will have to be seen again here for him to have any chance against the ultra-aggressive Takayama.
Although he already has 12 bouts to his record his upcoming bout is potentially an historic one. If Kano wins he will become the youngest ever world champion from Japan, beating a very old record of Hiroki Ioka who set it back in 1987 when he beat Mai Thomburifarm. The pressure is all on him to break that record and set himself on to the world title picture. That is the sort of pressure than can break lesser fighters and is something incredibly important for Kano to cope with.
At his best this would almost certainly be a win for Takayama. However he's not at his best, his skin is so fragile that he could cut any moment and unfortunately we think that will be the issue here with Kano cutting Takayama and claiming a stoppage as a result, probably in the middle rounds with Takayama starting slowly due to spending the last 8 months away from the ring. We wouldn't be shocked by a Takayama win, but we do suspect Kano will be the man coming out on top.
Sadly for fight fans hoping to see this bout, it will only be aired live in Osaka,and no international streams are expected to be available.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.