By Nick Skok
The end of the New Years brought a wave of championship fights from Japan, none more impressive than the return of undisputed super featherweight champion, Takashi Uchiyama. His team, entourage and thousands of fans inside Ota City General Gymnasium sported shirts that read: “King of Kings” – a reference to Uchiyama’s dominance of his division.
Uchiyama had been out of the ring since last May after suffering an elbow injury that required surgical repair. He both looked 100% healthy in the ring and said as much afterwards. Uchiyama felt out his overmatched opponent over the first two rounds and got reacquainted with the ring. It was seemingly the calm before the storm as you could see the advantage he possessed with superior ring intelligence over Oliver Flores.
Suddenly, in round three, a snake bite of a punch struck Flores with authority and Flores retreated to the corner. It was all over a short time later at 1:47 as a stinging hook to the body dropped Flores and had him reeling in pain. Uchiyama would say afterwards that he knew as soon as he connected that the fight was over.
Fans and media alike have been salivating at the possibility of a matchup between Uchiyama and super featherweight newcomer, Nicholas Walters. Mr. Watanabe, the president of the Watanabe gym whom Uchiyama belongs was sitting next to the defending champ and said their message for Walters is this: “Don’t run. Don’t hide.” Uchiyama laughed at this as if to show incredible confidence that Walters or anyone else at 130lbs is no match for him. He may be right.
Uchiyama and Mr. Watanabe said they’d be ready to get back in the ring in April. One possibility I threw out was the undercard of the April 9th Manny Pacquiao – Timothy Bradley fight, as Top Rank will be promoting that card and handle Nicholas Walters as well, but Mr. Watanabe threw cold water at the notion. Though they would like to be on the card, they worry about ticket availability for their fans and media, as Manny Pacquiao’s shows are often sold out and Uchiyama has a massive following in Tokyo and throughout Japan.
One thing is for sure: Takashi Uchiyama is back and he’s ready and very willing to fight anyone in the super featherweight division.