By Jake Donovan
A long-reigning titlist proudly defended his crown while another belt change hands in atitle fight doubleheader Monday evening in Tokyo, Japan. Both bouts pitted Japanese fighters against visiting Venezuelans, with each nation claming victory.
Takashi Uchiyama continued his dominance atop the 130 lb. division with a 5th round stoppage of visiting Jaider Parra in the evening's main event.
The unbeaten Uchiyama seems to have rediscovered some of the swagger that was rumored to have disappeared around this time last year. The 33-year old looked spectacular in a Knockout-of-the-Year worthy 11th round stoppage of Jorge Solis on the very last evening of 2011, but struggled against Michael Farenas last summer.
While victorious, Uchiyama did not appear himself against the visiting Filipino, seemingly going through the motions in an inconclusive technical draw after the fight was stopped midway through the third round.
He has since been lights out, stopping Bryan Vasquez in eight rounds last New Year's Eve and dominating Parra on Monday evening.
Uchiyama never allowed the unbeaten challenger to believe he had a shot in returning to Venezuela as a champion. Parra has a familial connection to the title stage; his brother is Lorenzo Parra, a former flyweight king who took tremendous pride in serving as one of the sport's road warriors.
Fittingly, Tokyo served as the location for the end of the elder Parra's title reign back in 2007, as well as the harsh reality for the younger Parra on Monday evening. The visiting challenger was dominated early before being dropped and stopped. A body shot was enough to force the stoppage, coming at 2:15 of round five.
Uchiyama rolls to 20-0-1 (17KO), racking up the seventh successful defense of the title he won three years ago. All of his bouts have taken place in his native Japan, though it stands to reason that he's the best in the world at 130 lb. regardless of where his fights take place.
A fighter willing to contest that is recently crowned 130 lb. titlist Argenis Mendez. Both share a common opponent - Juan Carlos Salgado, whose two career defeats directly ignited the title reigns of each fighter. Uchiyama stopped Salgado in the 12th round of their January 2010 bout; Mendez gained revenge in a dominant 4th round stoppage of the two-time titilist this past March after having suffered a disputed points loss on the road in Mexico 18 month prior.
Whomever the opponent, Uchiyama once again looks like a fighter ready for anyone in the world. Such was the harsh lesson learned by Parra, who suffers his first career defeat in falling to 20-1-1 (10KO).
In a co-feature war that easily stole the show, Liborio Solis lifted the 115 lb. title with a stirring majority decision win over Kohei Kono.
Both fighters traded knockdowns - Solis dropped early in the bout, but roaring back to drop and nearly stop Kono in the eighth round. Momentum swayed back and forth throughout the 12-round war, with the action close enough for one judge to score it even at 113-113.
The tie was overruled by scores of 114-112 and 115-111 in favor of the 31-year old Solis, who improves to 15-3 (7KO) in what is easily the biggest win of his career.
Kono falls to 28-8 (11KO), conceding the crown in his first attempted title defense. The 32-year old scored one of the biggest upsets of 2012, stopping Tepparith Kokeitgym in four rounds last New Year's Eve in his Tokyo hometown, on the same card as Uchiyama's aforementioned win over Vazquez.
Both of Monday's title bouts aired via same-delay tape delay on TV Tokyo.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox