The bad year for the Watanabe Gym, and on a personal level for Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志], continued today with the veteran suffering a second successive loss to Panama's Jezreel Corrales (21-1-0-1, 8), though unlike the first bout this time things were very competitive and Uchiyama had more than a few moments of success.
Uchiyama tried to take control of the pace here by using his deliberate jab to slow the pace of the champion, who simply overwhelmed him with speed when the two fighters faced off back in April. Feeling more confident Uchiyama started to apply some pressure in round 2 but Corrales moved well to neutralise the pressure and landed a powerful left. Uchiyama withstood the blow, which made a surprisingly loud noise, and continued to try and apply pressure.
By round 4 Corrales was switching up his stance and Uchiyama seemed to realise that Corrales' feet could prove problematic. A counter in round 5 gave Uchiyama some worries but the Japanese favourite withstood it before dropping Corrales later in the round, scoring the fights sole knock down. Despite the knockdown Corrales was back to showing his ability in round 6 and seemed to win the round.
The action following was close but it seemed like Corrales flashier shots and movement impressed the judges more than Uchiyama's heavier and more controlled approach, despite the crowd clearly being behind the local veteran. Those close and competitive rounds were ones that the locals would have felt Uchiyama deserved but the judges, who were split on a number of them, seemed to favour the champion in, despite a very good round 10 from Uchiyama where he had real success to the body. Interestingly that was the only round, other than round 5, that one judge actually gave to Uchiyama
Coming in to the final round it seemed the bout was up for grabs, and was going to be decided by what the judges preferred. Sadly though Uchiyama couldn't do enough to impress the judges enough, and came up on the wrong end of a split decision, a decision in which one judge, somehow, gave him only 2 rounds, including the 10-8 round. That lead to cards that read 117-110, a very questionable card, and 115-112 in favour of Guzman whilst the third judge had the bout 113-114 to Uchiyama.
It's worth noting that the judge with the widest card was Belgian Philippe Verbeke, who has frequently judged bouts in Japan but may not be invited again given his scorecard here.
Whether Uchiyama now retires, or looks to continue seems to be an interesting question, though the view from fans seems to be that retirement is looming for the popular puncher. For Corrales the reality is that the first bout flattered him, and he was run razor thin by a post-prime 37 year old Uchiyama here. He'll likely be able to keep the title for a while but would be well advised to avoid a fight with someone like Vasyl Lomachneko who would take care of him relatively easily on this performance.
Every so often boxing gives us a major upset, a shock, a earth shattering shock. That happened today when long reigning WBA Super Featherweight “super” champion Takashi Uchiyama's (24-1-1, 20) [内山 高志] was stopped, inside 2 rounds, by Panama's Jezreel Corrales (20-1-0-1, 8), who dethroned Uchiyama after 11 successful defenses.
The fight with Uchiyama looking to use his 1-2 to ease way into the bout and get a read of the tricky Panamanian. Corrales however seemed to have the edge in speed and ended looked aggressive towards the end of the round with his speed clearly bothering Uchiyama.
In the second round Uchiyama decided to change tact and brought pressure early on. That however played into the hands of Corrales who found a home for his straight left hand which dropped Uchiyama. After recovering to his feet the champion was quickly sent down for a second time and Corrales smelled blood rushing in for the finish. A finish that came moment later when Uchiyama was put down for a third time, following an assault with Uchiyama on the ropes.
The official time was 2:59 of round 2
The shock of the result, which had hit twitter before the bout was aired, sent shock waves through Japanese boxing with a number of fans suggesting that those in the venue had lied about the result though quickly it emerged that those fans at the venue weren't on the wind up and that the long reigning champion had indeed been beaten.
Given the manner of the result Corrales has sent a statement though the boxing world and potentially set himself up for a very long reign in the 130lb division as well as potentially securing the 2016 Upset of the Year. His confidence, speed and skill will make him a handful for almost anyone. For Uchiyama however this bout could well be the end. It's been a frustrating career at times, with injuries and problems securing big name opponents but this isn't the way he'd have wanted to end things.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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