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Takashi Uchiyama: “To this day, I strive to make myself a better boxer”

To many, the super featherweight division is one of the weaker divisions in boxing. A year or so ago, this may have been true but today, things are getting pretty exciting with the emergence of several younger fighters, notably the charismatic Adrien Broner, Las Vegas-based Diego Magdaleno and Mexican grinder Juan Carlos Burgos. However, don’t be fooled in thinking their respective promoters will pay bucketloads of cash to ship in WBA ruler Takashi Uchiyama from the land of the rising sun to merely hand over his trinket. He’s a very real threat to anybody at 130, especially with power he carries late into fights as evident in his penultimate round stoppage over grizzled veteran Jorge Solis,one of the most vicious knockouts of 2011. The 32-year-old has been a champion for two-and-a half years, having dethroned Juan Carlos Salgado. So far, all four of Uchiyama’s title defenses have ended inside the distance. Now it’s time for him to return to action on Monday when he meets WBA #7 Filipino southpaw Michael Farenas, 34-3-3 (26). Here’s what Uchiyama had to say.

Anson Wainwright - In your next fight, you meet Michael Farenas on 16 July in Saitama, Japan. What are your thoughts on that fight and what do you think of Farenas?
Takashi Uchiyama - As usual, my thought going into the fight is to show the people watching the fight a great performance. I will be facing an aggressive fighter with power so it is a dangerous fight for me. My motto is “not to fear, not to be arrogant and not to take lightly.” This is same for me for all my fights.
AW - In your last fight, you impressively stopped Jorge Solis in 11 rounds. Can you tell us about the fight and how happy you were with your performance?
TU - Prior to that fight, I had broken my right hand and it had been 11 months since I last fought. I had some ring rust. Throughout my boxing career, I had to battle with my hand injuries many times. Going into the Solis fight, I had to primarily train with my left hand and I was pleased that that training had paid off in the fight. In the 10th round, I was able to get in a good body shot and after that blow, Solis was protective of his body. Taking advantage of that situation, I was able to land a left hook to the head and finish him off.
AW - Who are the members of your team?
TU - In Japan, fighters sign with a gym and the gym will manage the fighter. The president of the gym, Hiroshi Watanabe, is my promoter. Shuhei Sasaki is my trainer and my second assists are Tomoko Takahashi and Yuta Ishihara, all of whom I rely on and trust.
AW – Where do you regularly train? What other pros train there or with you? Can you tell us a little about your training schedule going into a fight?
TU - I train at Watanabe Boxing Gym in Tokyo (Gotanda District). In the morning, I run and go through my physical training, about three hours or so. In the evening, I work out in the gym, usually some mitts, bags or sparring. My walk around weight is five kilograms (11 pounds) over the super featherweight limit.
I ask fighters in Japan who are similar to my opponent to be my sparring partners. I will usually spar six to 12 rounds. My running will change day to day. Sometimes I run 10 kilometres at a fast pace; sometimes slow. Run five kilometres, then run 20 sprints. Directed by the conditioning coach, I may ride a bicycle from time to time.
AW - You turned pro at the relatively advanced age of 26. Why did you wait so long before turning pro? Did you have an amateur boxing career?
TU - At 15, after getting into high school, I started boxing as an amateur. At 22, after becoming the All-Nippon Champion, I started looking to become an Olympian. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to Athens for the 2004 Olympics and I had stopped boxing. But after about a year, I could not bear not to box and chose to turn pro. After graduating from university, I worked as a salaryman (working professionally) but to be a professional boxer, I had to quit [my regular job].
AW – Recently, there was strawweight unification between Kazuta Ioka and Akira Yaegashi. It was a big fight in Japan. A fight with WBC champion Takahiro Aoh would be even bigger. What do you think of him and how possible is that fight?
TU - Yaegashi and I have gone to the same university, though he is younger. Even now, he and I work together on the physical training. Watching the fight between him and Ioka, I was able to feel appreciation for championship unification fights. I am close to Aoh too. I have wanted to do a unification fight with him for a while. I feel that it is possible for us to make that a reality.
AW - As well as Aoh, there is WBO champion Adrien Broner, who’s on his way up and becoming a big name is America. What do you think of him?
TU - Broner has an appealing boxing style and is aggressive. The impression I have of him is he’s a strong fighter. Of course, I would like to fight him but making the fight may be more difficult than making the Aoh fight.
AW - The IBF champion is Juan Carlos Salgado, who you beat for the WBA crown. Can you tell us about that fight and your opinion of him?
TU – The Salgado fight was little different than I imagined. I thought Salgado would be more aggressive and would fight inside and I had trained to fight on the inside. But it actually turned into a boxing match from the outside. This was a change for the better for me. This is very much a comfort zone for me and I was able to get him to fight my fight by using my jabs. Salgado has been successfully defending his title so I believe he is a better fighter now. If an opportunity arises, I would like to fight him again.
AW - Can you tell us about your early years growing up in Saitama and how you first became interested in boxing?
TU - When I was 13, I happened to watch [Joichiro] Tatsuyoshi’s fights on television and I wanted to start boxing once I got into high school. The high school I attended, Hanasaki Tokuharu High School, was well known for its high school boxing champions and when I got in, I was a mediocre boxer. There were boxers that were better than I was. Still to this day, I am striving to make myself a better boxer.
AW – Please tell us about your life away from boxing and what your interests and hobbies are.
TU - My hobbies…that is a tough question. I like to eat tasty things when I am not in training.
AW - Who do you consider to be your toughest opponent so far? What is your best win and what knockout do you think was your best?
TU - I think Solis was the toughest because he was so difficult to hit. I’ve been knocked down before [by other opponents] but that was due to lack of ability on my part. I hope to stay hungry and strive to make my next fight my best fight.
AW - What goals do you have left in boxing? Perhaps fight in America, move up to lightweight, unify titles, etc.?
TU - My dream is to fight in Las Vegas. I hope to put on fights that will have people come to see me fight there. I have no plans to go up in weight.
AW – Finally, do you have a message for the super featherweight division?
TU - I plan to remain a fighter that will be recognized by everyone as the best super featherweight.
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at and you can follow him at

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