Former champ Uchiyama awaits return to ring on New Year’s Eve

Former champ Uchiyama awaits return to ring on New Year’s Eve

first_img Ex-WBA super featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama poses for a photo holding a picture of Jazreel Corrales, his Dec. 31 opponent, during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA Ryoichi Taguchi (left) and Takashi Uchiyama are scheduled to fight on New Year’s Eve at Oita City General Gymnasium. | KYODO Takashi Uchiyama, Ryoichi Taguchi, Watanabe Gym, Jezreel Corrales, Carlos Canizales, Hitoshi Watanabe KEYWORDS When he took a defeat against ferocious challenger Jezreel Corrales in April, Takashi Uchiyama lost multiple things at once, not just the WBA super featherweight belt.It marked the first “L” for Uchiyama in his professional career, and his consecutive world title defenses was snapped (at 11, two shy of Yoko Gushiken’s Japanese record). RELATED PHOTOS GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES But now Uchiyama, 36, actually feels relieved, because he doesn’t have to think of different burdens he’s shouldered any more but focus on just one thing: to avenge the man who humiliated him.Uchiyama’s Watanabe Gym announced on Friday that the ex-champ would challenge Corrales while his gym mate and WBA light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi would take on Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales on New Year’s Eve at Ota City General Gymnasium.In their previous fight, Corrales overwhelmed Uchiyama and knocked him out in the second round. Despite that one-sided contest, Uchiyama said that he doesn’t fear facing the 25-year-old Panamanian, because he knew he just fought in a wrong way.“I’m actually looking forward to how I’ll be able to repay him,” Uchiyama said at a Tokyo news conference. “I don’t think I was a little off guard, but I was overwhelmed by his momentum early and continued to fight at his pace. Next time, I will prepare firm strategies to get in the ring.”Uchiyama added that he doesn’t have a monkey on his back for the bout because he will fight as a challenger for the first time in a long time.“I’ll just do my best against him,” said Uchiyama, a career 24-1-1 fighter. “But I’m fighting against the same guy and I can’t afford to lose to him twice, and I should not let it show (to my fans).”He probably denies it himself, but people thought that a lack of motivation was another reason that factored into the April loss.Although he once was considered one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Uchiyama has always fought in Japan and expressed the hope of taking on a competitive opponent overseas, such as in Las Vegas. And his gym negotiated to make that happen for him, but it didn’t work out before he fought against Corrales, who was an unknown fighter, in Tokyo.“(My motivation) perhaps is as high as in my first world-title shot,” said Uchiyama, referring to a bout in January 2010, when he defeated Mexico’s Juan Carlos Salgado.Uchiyama, a native of Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, has hinted at the possibility of retirement, but is focused on preparation for his upcoming bout.Hitoshi Watanabe, the Watanabe Gym president, said: “Uchiyama’s had a chip on his shoulder in this past half a year. And we’ve got this match because the media and his fans wouldn’t be satisfied with a fight with others. Reflecting on (April’s fight), we would like to present a competitive Uchiyama.”Corrales has a 24-0-1 record as a pro.Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Taguchi, who’s defended his belt four times, will receive a genuine challenge from Canizales.Canizales, 23, has a 16-0 record (13 knockouts) as a pro, including a split-decision triumph over Colombia’s Roberto Barrera, who’s ranked No. 1 by the WBA in the weight class, to earn the WBA Latin America light flyweight title last year.Taguchi could have selected another opponent from some available options he was offered, but chose the strongest one.“I wanted to fight a tough opponent,” said Taguchi, a Tokyo native. “I don’t think I have been given enough credit, so I begged my gym president. I want to show that I’ve gotten even stronger and get the credit I deserve.” IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5last_img

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