fukuhara-finger2  By David Finger –

Anyone who saw Tatsuya Fukuhara’s gritty twelve round split decision victory over Moises Calleros February 26 would be forgiven if they assumed that the toughest part of being a world champion was now behind him. After all, his fight with Calleros was a fight of the year candidate and one of the grittiest brawls in recent memory. It was made all the more memorable considering it came in Fukuhara’s backyard, a city that had suffered one of the worst natural disasters in recent history when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the city of Kumamoto. Fukuhara (19-4-6, 7 KOs) won the interim WBO mini flyweight and passed what was undoubtedly his toughest test to date. But for Fukuhara, it’s not about to get any easier.

He is now mandated to fight the WBO mini flyweight champion in recess: the cagy 33-year old Katsunari Takayama (31-8, 12 KOs). 

Takayama may not be old as Bernard Hopkins, but in a division that rarely sees careers that span over ten years Takayama has done the unthinkable: he has remained the top dog for the better part of a dozen years. After turning professional in 2000 Takayama won his first world title in 2005 and although he has dropped the title several times since then, he has nonetheless been a consistent powerhouse in the division, winning a version of the world title of six times since 2005.

It’s not an easy draw for your first title defense, but as Fukuhara showed us against Moises Calleros, he is more than up for the challenge.

Fukuhara took time to speak with the Fightnews after his victory with Moises Calleros, speaking about his new status as a world champion, his fight of the year with Moises Calleros, and what he sees the future holding for him.

Fightnews: Right off the bat let me say congratulations on your victory!

Fukyhara: Thank you.

Fightnews: How do you feel now that you are a champion holding that belt?

Fukuhara: It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

Fightnews: Have you had a chance to talk to some of your fans here in Kumamoto since the fight?

Fukuhara: Just a little time to talk to both friends and family and they said that it was a good fight.

Fightnews: This was undoubtedly a very important fight for you but also for the city of Kumamoto, which suffered a tremendous earthquake last year that left many of its citizens, including you, homeless for a period of time. How did that inspire you during the fight, hearing your fans cheering you on and knowing how much this meant to Kumamoto?

Fukuhara: It was very important. I just felt there was so much support that no matter what happened in the ring I would never give up and I would keep fighting.

Fightnews: In the West there is a view of boxing in Japan that fans seldom get loud during a championship fight. This was clearly not the case with you during your fight with Calleros. How much of an inspiration was it hearing two thousand fans loudly chanting your name in between rounds?

Fukuhara: That’s why I was able to win.

Fightnews: In the middle rounds all three judges had Calleros winning the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds. Did you feel like you were in trouble at that point?

Fukuhara: I couldn’t see (due to a cut inside his left eye) and Calleros was such a hard puncher. Because I couldn’t see I lost my sense of distance. I couldn’t calculate the distance. I felt a sense of danger that I might be losing the fight.

Fightnews: How did you turn it around from that point to come back and win the fight when it looked like the fight was going away from you?

Fukuhara: At that point Mr. Honda told me I needed to put my energy and dig deep down into my primal life energy if I wanted to win this fight. When I heard that I tapped into that energy and was able to turn it around.

Fightnews: I described Calleros as a “Mexican Tank” in my report. He seemed like he would not take a backward step for the better part of the fight until the eleventh round when it looked like you finally were able to get to him. In the twelfth I thought you did very well against Calleros and seemed to be in control in that final round. How did you feel knowing that the fight was so close in the final two rounds and that whoever won those rounds would probably win the fight? Did you think you needed to win the last round to win the fight and did you sense Calleros was in trouble in that round?

Fukuhara: I could tell that I hurt him with body shots in the eleventh round and so when I saw that it gave me more energy to attack him. So I kept the pressure on him in the last round knowing that it was the last round and that I could see that I hurt him. I kept the body attack on him.

Fightnews: Were you worried at the end of the fight when the first judge awarded the fight to Calleros?

Fukuhara: (Laughing) Yeah, I was worried.

Fightnews: In the second round Calleros hit you with a shot that looked like it hurt you. Did that shot hurt you and how did you come back from it?

Fukuhara: Yeah, it hurt me. It hurt me but it didn’t hurt me all the way to my legs because I ran a lot to prepare for this fight so I was able to hold on. I thought it really looked bad to the judges that I went down like that so I knew I had to get it back and I was able to land some blows.

Fightnews: This was one of the most exciting championship fights I’ve seen in some time. Did you expect this fight to be such a war and how do you feel knowing you had to dig deep to win this fight?

Fukuhara: I knew Calleros would come at me and wouldn’t back down so I was anticipating a hard contest.

Fightnews: What’s next for you?

Fukuhara: I’ll be fighting Katsunari Takayama to determine the unified WBO champion. If not I would like to fight one of the Japanese ranked fighters.

Date:   Saturday, August 20, 2016


Location:   Komagatani Gym, Sanda Hyogo, Japan

Promoter:  Taisei Marumoto / Taisei Promotions

Supervisor: Leon Panoncillo

Referee:  Danrex Tapdasan

Judges:    Salven Lugumbay (58-56);   Waleska Roldan  (59-56);  Lynne Carter (59-55)

Results:   The vacant WBO Mini-Flyweight Championship was adquired by Katsunari Takayama over Riku Kano. Takayama was awarded a Unanimous Technical Decision


By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Sumio Yamada –

Japanese veteran speedster Katsunari Takayama (31-8-1NC, 12 KOs), 105, acquired the vacant WBO 105-pound belt as he was awarded a unanimous technical decision over 18-year-old prospect Riku Kano (10-2-1, 5 KOs), 105, due to Takayama’s deteriorated laceration at 0:58 of the sixth round on Saturday in Sanda, Japan. Salven Lagumbay (Philippines) scored the competitive fight 58-56, Waleska Roldan (US) and Lynne Carter (US) had it 59-56 and 59-55 respectively, all for the 33-yer-old ex-titlist. As expected, the notorious bleeder Takayama bled from a gash over the left eyebrow due to an accidental butt from the third on, but not as expected, the victor wasn’t his opponent but Takayama. When the referee Danrex Tapdasan of the Philippines halted the affair midway in round six, some 3,000 spectators, most of whom were Kano adherents, believed Kano was a winner by a TKO. But the fact was a technical decision, which resulted in a victory for Takayama against Sanda citizens’ earnest expectations.

People wanted to see the fight until the end, because they realized Takayama’s tendency of slowing down in later rounds and the much younger Kano would display his superior stamina therein. But the technical decision shuttered Kano’s ambition as well as Sanda people’s expectations.

Kano, a southpaw youngster, made a good start by connecting with southpaw right hooks to the onrushing veteran Takayama in the opening session. The second saw Takayama start to show his trademark quick combinations upstairs and downstairs regardless of precision. Since then, Kano occasionally caught the veteran with southpaw lefts followed by right hooks, but Takayama proved busier in mixing up by pinning Kano to the ropes. Kano, in round four, was so aggressive that he kept stalking the older foe, but Takayama landed a solid right to shake him up in the middle of the session.

People realized Kano could punch harder, but he punched at a time, while Takayama threw punches in combination to the face and the body. The audience was stunned to see the bout abruptly stopped midway in the sixth, when the ringside physician advised the third man to halt the affair against people’s expectations.

Takayama thus acquired the world belt on five occasions to his credit, while Kano tasted a bitter setback despite a warm support by his manager/promoter/trainer Taisei Marumoto, ex-OPBF welter champ. But it may be true that Kano needs more experience and this defeat might be a good lesson for his future surge.

Takayama said, “I wished to fight until the end to win the world belt. I feel sorry to the ambitious Kano, who is talented and will zoom up in the near future. We may have to fight again.”

The upcoming promoter Marumoto was crestfallen, but said, “People here might feel indigestion at such a termination, but I’ll promote a rematch at our earliest convenience to show them the unseen second half of the bout.”

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Katsunari Takayama (left) exchanges punches with Shin Ono during his IBF 105-pound title defense at the Bodymaker Colosseum on May 7 in Osaka, Japan. Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

IBF strawweight titleholder Katsunari Takayama enters the lion’s den on Saturday when he takes on Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in the WBO beltholder’s native Monterrey, Mexico, but fighting on the road is nothing new to the Japanese veteran who has fought in South Africa, the Philippines and other parts of Mexico.

He had no hesitation about dusting off his passport for a 105-pound title unification bout.

“I feel really comfortable with fighting on the enemy field,” Takayama told RingTV.com through his interpreter Maio Ryohei when asked about returning to Mexico.

The 31-year old Takayama (27-6, 10 knockouts) is keen to test himself against his Mexican rival who’s 10 years his junior.

“He is a powerful puncher and seems to have lots of stamina,” he said “I have watched video of him, and still I couldn’t find his weakness.”

Rodriguez-Takayama will be only the fifth strawweight title unification bout in history following Ricardo Lopez vs. Alex Sanchez and then two meetings with Rosendo Alvarez, and most recently the Kazuta Ioka-Akira Yaegashi fight.

Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on this unification fight?

Katsunari Takayama – It thrills me a lot to fight this unification match of the IBF and WBO titles because for a long time I’ve wanted the opportunity of becoming undisputed champion of four organizations.

AW – What do you think of Rodriguez as a fighter? 

KT – He is a powerful puncher and seems to have lots of stamina. I have watched video of him, and still I couldn’t find his weakness.

AW – It is very rare for a unification to take place at strawweight. Wow did this fight come about?

KT – The main reason why this fight was happened is simply because I am really eager to have four colors (of title) belts. My manager Hiroaki Nakade organized and negotiated this fight.

Moreover my idol is Orlando Canizales, and he had IBF bantamweight world championship.

In the lower weights, strawweight, junior flyweight and even at heavyweight, no one has never ever ruled the four organizations’ titles at once. Yes, Mr. (Bernard) Hopkins did (at middleweight). I mean at the heaviest class, at heavyweight, still, no one has achieved. So it is worth for me, Takayama, to challenge and achieve it.

AW – The fight takes place in Monterrey, Mexico. You beat Mario Rodriguez in Mexico for the title. How much confidence does that give you for this fight?

KT – That made me love to fight in foreign country and fight away. I feel really comfortable with fighting on the enemy field.

AW – In your most recent title defense you outpointed Shin Ono. Can you tell us about that fight?

That was the great fight. Ono studied and investigated me so deeply and widely from various perspectives. Ono especially interfered with me circling to the left (Ono is southpaw) so he landed some straight lefts. However, my stamina overwhelmed him finally.

AW – What was your youth like growing up in Osaka, Japan? How did you become interested in boxing?

KT – By 15 years old, I was fat like a sumo wrestler. My only fun was eating junk food (like chips and popcorn). My friend asked me to join the boxing gym. My friend quit after two weeks. I grew up like a normal child in Osaka, with no problems.

AW – Previously you were something of a pioneer for boxing in Japan. You handed in your JBC license and decided to head overseas and fight Nkosinathi Joyi for the IBF title. Though you lost to him you have since captured that title. Tell us about this? [Editor’s note: for many decades, the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) only recognized the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the World Boxing Association (WBA) sanctioning organizations.]

KT – I wanted to be a strongest strawweight, no matter what the cost. To fight in the enemy field brought me good and bad events. However, all these experiences make me strong and colorful fighter.

AW – You have fought many of the best strawweights of the past decade Eagle Kyowa, Yukaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez, and Joyi. What would you say of fighting those guys? Who was the best? 

KT – This is the one of the hardest questions to answer, to rank up them. I know this is the “nicey-nice” (sit on the fence) answer, but all of them made me who I am.

AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing? 

KT – Now I go to high school (even though I’m 31 years old). One of my plans after graduating high school is to go on to university and then to be a teacher. If possible, I’d like to specialize in physical education and be a PE teacher in high school. I would like it if I could pass down my experience which I have learned from many countries and people.

AW – In closing do you have a message for Rodriguez Jr. ahead of your fight?

KT – It’s really my honor and pleasure to face you. I look forward to making a legend together.



Credit: Photos: Ken Ishii/Getty Images AsiaPac) –

For the second day running we saw a small slice of history being created. Yesterday we saw Naoya Inoue becoming the quickest man to become a 2-weight world champion, setting a world record in his 8th fight when he stopped Omar Andres Narvaez in 2 rounds. Today the history was merely a bit of national history for Japanese fighters as Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) became the first ever Japanese fighter to win a version of all 4 major world titles.

Takayama did that earlier today by stopping light hitting compatriot Go Odaira (11-4-3, 1) in the 7th round of their meeting and claimed the IBF Minimumweight title, for a second time, as well as the elusive WBO Minimumweight crown, the one title he had never had in his illustrious career.

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On paper the bout promised excitement. Both men are volume punchers usually, both like to let their hands go and both are as reliant on their speed and movement as any other tool in their arsenal. As well as that there had been only a single stoppage defeat between the two men, and that was a more than 11 years ago when an immature Takayama was caught in the 9th round against Masato Hatakeyama in what was Takayama’s first title bout. It seemed to go 12 on paper, but of course fights aren’t fought on paper and when history is there for the taking sometimes a fighter can find something else in themselves.

The fight started well with both managing to find their range and timing, neither showed great fear of the other’s power but neither felt like taking too many risks. It was busy without being brutal, fast without being rushed and in fact Odaira managed to more than hold his own early on with round 4 being a particularly good one for the relatively unknown fighter. Unfortunately as we hit the middle of the bout things began to change and Takayama’s shots began to take their toll with Odaira being forced to take body shots, the like of which he had never tasted.

The body shots began to slow Odaira in round 5 and, as we all know, when a fighter is feeling the effects of body shots they can slow quickly and in round 6 it all seemed to unravel for Odaira who suddenly looked like a tiring man, despite still managing to do enough to fight back. Unfortunately for the Hanagata promoted fighter this was the beginning of the end and in round 7 Takayama got his chance and took it, with the finish coming in the a typical Takayama fashion with the “Lightning Kid” unloading shot after shot after shot in a furious bombardment of leather. The shots themselves had a lack of pop but the sheer volume of them was insane and Odaira’s exhaustion was showing as the referee was forced to save Odaira who was being swallowed whole by a whirlwind of punches.

Whilst the win for Takayama was historic it also sees him achieving one of his two public aims. It seems him claiming all 4 titles in a career grandslam, the other aim he has spoken about is to become a multi-weight world champion and a move to 108lbs seems likely. Hopefully however he will look to defend his unified crown, possibly against talented teenage sensation Kosei Tanaka who is himself chasing Japanese boxing history as he chases the quickest rise to a world title.


Date:  Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Location:  Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan

Promoter:   Ioka Promotions / Kazunori Ioka

Supervisor:   Leon Panoncillo, Jr.

Referee:   Takeshi Shimakawa

Judges:    Katsuhiko Nakamura (57-57); Yongsak Na Songkha (57-57);  Takeo Harada (56-58)

Results:     Katsunari Takayama won the WBO Mini-Flyweight Title against Go Odaira by TKO in the 7th. round.


453422934Credit: Photo by Mario Ocampo/Getty Images/

By:  Ryan Songalia –

Though 2014 has proven to be a steady year in boxing, a solid frontrunner for Fight of the Year had yet to emerge. Until Saturday night, that is.

While American fans had to settle for the unpopular mismatches that were Danny Garcia-Rod Salka and Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana, a battle for supremacy at 105 pounds was taking place south of the border.

In the end, Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (15-2, 10 knockouts) had done enough to unify his WBO strawweight title with Katsunari Takayama’s IBF belt with a unanimous decision at the Arena Monterey in Monterey, Mexico. The scores didn’t tell the story of how close the action was, as Rodriguez won by the tallies of 115-112, 116-111 and 119-108.

The 21-year-old Rodriguez, who had won the title with a one-sided pounding of Merlito Sabillo in March, came out aggressively – as is his trademark – while Takayama, 31, was looking to box and counter.

The inventive angles of Rodriguez’s attack finally paid dividends in the third stanza with a left hook that put Takayama down, and after rising to his feet the Japanese titleholder clearly felt it imperative to make a return statement. Realizing how dire his situation was becoming, Takayama (27-7, 10 KOs) looked to put some hurt on the heavier-hitting Rodriguez, outthrowing and outlanding his foe in the fourth.

Takayama reverted to his original plan to box in the fifth but Rodriguez’s continuous pressure would not allow Takayama to remain comfortable for long stretches. The back and forth action continued along the same pattern for the remainder of the fight, with Rodriguez’s heavier shots going against Takayama’s lighter, more voluminous punches.

Both men seemed weary in the final round, and though the cards indicated that only a knockout could’ve won it for Takayama, both fought as if the fight was hanging in the balance. After roughhouse maneuvers drew a warning from the referee for Rodriguez, the Mexican banger stunned Takayama with another right hand.

The win marks the fourth straight for Rodriguez, who has emerged as a major player in the sport’s lightest divisions after being stopped in seven rounds by Roman Gonzalez last September. Heading into the fight, Takayama was rated no. 4 by THE RING at 105 pounds while Rodriguez was rated sixth.


Date:  Saturday, August 9, 2014

Unification IBF/WBO  Mini-Flyweight Championship Bout

Location:  Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Promoter:  Promociones Zanfer

Supervisor:   Rolando Marcos Hermoso

Referee:  Samuel Viruet

Judges:  Waleska Roldan, John Madfis, Glenn Trowbridge

Results:    WBO Mini-Flyweight Champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr., retained the title and won the unification IBF Minimumweight Title by Unanimous Decision over Katsunari Takayama.   Takayama was knocked down in the 3rd round.

TV:  Mexico Azteca


Photos: Zanfer Promotions

IBF mini-flyweight champion Katsunari Takayama (27-6, 10 KOs) and WBO champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (14-2, 10 KOs) met with the media Thursday for the final press conference in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Takayama will be fighting this Saturday in a 105lb unification clash against Rodriguez.

Takayama said “I’ve come to Monterrey willing to fight a war, to give everything in the ring. Rodriguez is a talented fighter, but as everyone has seen I am also talented.”

Rodriguez stated, “There is no human power that can remove me from victory before my people in the Arena Monterrey.”

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