By Danrex Tapdasan
Benguet, Philippines - In a shocker, untested Handig Singwangcha of Catbalogan, Northern Samar, Philippines defeated former world champion Katsunari Takayama of Osaka, Japan via a narrow split decision. After the win, the "Waray Warrior" became the mandatory challenger to newly crowned IBF mini flyweight champ Mario "Dragoncito" Rodriguez of Mexico. Singwangcha also wrested the IBF Pan Pacific mini flyweight title after the decision victory.
It was a nip and tuck affair all the way as Singwangcha (13-5, 7 KOs) relied on his punching power while Takayama (24-6, 10 KOs) relying on his footwork and hand speed.
The first 2 rounds was won by the Filipino as he surprised the Japanese visitor with his tremendous power in both hands. In the third, Takayama adjusted and showed the young boxer his ring generalship but he was warned by the referee for repeatedly pushing Singwangcha. In the samw 3rd round, Takayama was cut in his right eyebrow as a result of a legal punch. Singwangcha took the 4th clearly hurting Takayama every time he touches him and in the same round Takayama was again warned for pushing. To make it a see-saw battle, Takayama recovered in the 5th showing his experience in frustrating the hometown kid by using his foot and hand speed.
Towards the end of the 5th, the referee gave Takayama his last warning for pushing and informed him that another infraction would result into a point deduction. The 6th and 7th round could have gone either way as the combatants engaged in back and forth action. The 6th round became the most important round of the fight as Takayama again pushed Singwangcha. The referee deducted a point due to the repeated infraction of the same rule. Round 8 was clearly won by Takayama while Singwangcha clearly won the 9th canto. In what could be his last stand, Singwancha won the 10th with a very slim margin showing his guts in pursuing his back-pedaling opponent. It was all Takayama in the 11th as Singwangcha appeared spent after exhausting all his energy in the 10th round. A cut was opened on the Filipino's right eyebrow in an accidental clash of heads. The 12th round was a war and a bloodbath not only by the opposing gladiators but also the ringside spectators as both fighters' blood sprinkled all the way outside the ring.
After 12 rounds of all-out action, the judges scored as follows: Two judges had it 114-113 for Singwangcha while the 3rd judge saw it 115-112 for Takayama. The fight would have been majority draw if not for the point deduction suffered by Takayama in the 6th for repeated pushing. The deduction became the deciding factor.
The boxing show dubbed as "Boxing For A Cause" was organized by Highland Boxing Promotions owned by Brico Santig in cooperation with the local government of the municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet headed by Mayor Gregorio Abalos, Jr. and support of Thai boxing patron Naris Singwangcha. The proceeds of the promotion will be donated to the kidney patients of La Trinidad and for the re-construction of the St. James High School in Besao, Mountain Province after it was destroyed by fire last June 2 this year.