Champion Takashi Uchiyama of Japan managed to retain his WBA super featherweight title despite a knockdown to remain undefeated with an unanimous decision over compatriot Daiki Kaneko in the early hours yesterday in Tokyo.
Uchiyama, taken the distance for the first time since winning the title four years ago, improved to 20-0 (17 knockouts) with one draw. Kaneko dropped to 19-3 (17 knockouts) with three draws.
Earlier in the evening, in the opening bout of a title doubleheader at the Ota City Gym, Uchiyama’s compatriot Takashi Miura successfully defended his WBC super featherweight belt for the second time, stopping Mexico’s Dante Jardon by a technical knockout in the ninth round.
Uchiyama, fighting on New Year’s Eve for the third straight year, gave more than he got against Kaneko in a wide-open bout between two hard hitters, opening a cut near the challenger’s right eye and leaving his left eye nearly swollen shut.
The three Japanese judges all scored the fight 117-110 in Uchiyama’s favor.
“Kaneko was strong,” Uchiyama told the crowd in a post-fight interview in the ring. “He’s the man. I’m the world champion, but he provided me with a good experience.”
The 34-year-old, nicknamed “Knockout Dynamite,” wrested the title with a 12th-round technical knockout of Mexico’s Juan Carlos Salgado in January 2010, then won all seven of his previous title defenses inside the distance. His lone draw came in July 2012, when his fight against the Philippines’ Michael Farenas was stopped after Uchiyama was head-butted in the third round.
The outcome of the two title fights has inevitably led to calls for a unification fight between the two Japanese champions. The pair met in January 2011 for Uchiyama’s WBA belt, with Uchiyama winning when the fight was stopped in the eighth round due to a severe cut near Miura’s eye — and after Uchiyama had been knocked down.
“The last time, I barely won and in these three years he’s really made progress,” Uchiyama said of a rematch with Miura. “If it happens, I’ll look forward to it.”