By Jake Donovan
Takashi Uchiyama extended his run as the de facto leader of the 130 lb. division, surviving a 10th round knockdown and a late surge from challenger Daiki Kaneko to take a 12-round decision Tuesday evening in Tokyo, Japan.
Scores were 117-110 (three times) in favor of Uchiyama, who has now won title fights on New Year's Eve in three straight years.
For nine rounds, the 34-year old defending titlist resembled his scouting report as the de facto leader in a suddenly loaded 130 lb. division. The bout moved at a brisk pace but momentum remained with Uchiyama as he continued to pile up points.
The early lead certainly helped, as the final three rounds nearly proved disastrous.
Kaneko came on like gangbusters in the double-digit rounds, beginning with a 10th round knockdown. Uchiyama was dropped hard and forced to fight for his championship life in a wild round 11 that became the final entry for 2013 year-end awards season. The crowd was brought to its feet as Kaneko saw a championship and major upset well within sight.
Alas, the moment came to pass as Uchiyama averted disaster just long to hear the final bell. Once that moment arrived, victory was all but assured, with matching scores on all three cards in his favor advancing his record to 21-0-1 (17KO).
Plans call for Uchiyama and Takashi Miura - who knocked out Dante Jardon in nine rounds in the evening'a co-feature - to meet in a unification bout in 2014. Such a contest would mark the second time in Japan's boxing history in which two of its fighter met in a unification bout. The other occasion came in June 2012, when Kazuto Ioka- who scored a 12-round win over Felix Alvarado earlier this evening in Osaka, Japan - outlasted Akira Yaegashi over 12 blood-soaked rounds to unify two belts at strawweight.
Uchiyama and Miura previously fought in 2011, with Uchiyama scoring a 9th round stoppage for the second successful defense of his 130 lb. title. Tuesday's win marked his 8th overall defense of a title reign now approaching four years, beginning with his 12th round stoppage of Juan Carlos Salgado in Jan. 2010.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox