By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Sumio Yamada
Fast-rising 18-year-old youngster, WBO#1 Riku Kano (10-1-1, 5 KOs), will make a very ambitious participation in a WBO world 105-pound title bout for the vacant championship against formerly four-time titlist, WBO#2 Katsunari Takayama (30-8, 12 KOs), 33, tomorrow (Saturday) in Sanda city, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Their fifteen-year age difference is shown by a fact that when Takayama made a pro debut in October 2000, Kano was still less than three years of age. Also, should Kano be victorious, he will renew the Japanese record of the youngest world champion, now held by Hiroki Ioka who won the belt at 18 years nine months and ten days, by six days. We realize we are so curious people that love a new thing, especially a new record, even if it might be a source of renovation or invention.
Kano, an aggressive southpaw, had a unique career. Despite no amateur experience he made a pro debut in the Philippines, losing a split nod at the age of sixteen and three weeks in December 2013, since the JBC then ruled that a professional boxer should be at least 17 years of age (now from sixteen). Kano went on fighting twice more in the Philippines and four times in Thailand to be 5-1-1, 3 KOs before he made his first appearance in his native Japan in June 2015.
Kano, in December 2015, defeated world-rated Thailander Pigmy Kokietgym and then WBO#2 Merlito Sabillo this May to jump up to the WBO’s top rank. Kano is truly an up-and-coming prospect and incessant fighting machine. What he lacks may be ring experience.
Takayama, the very first Japanese that acquired four belts of as many major organizations, is, of course, a prefight favorite due to his vast experience, but he has a serious flaw, that is, his vulnerability to cut. Takayama, like Vito Antuofermo, is very apt to bleed from his scar tissues, as shown by his last defeat and forfeiture of the IBF 105-pound belt on New Year Eve of the previous year, when he yielded the title to Mexican Jose Argumedo via technical decision because of his bad laceration in Osaka.
The much more experienced Takayama is a prefight favorite, but he has lately been fighting with a hand grenade at the eyebrows. Should he bleed, Kano may deteriorate the gash with his continual attack to score a TKO victory. Time will tell.
On the undercard, unbeaten Japanese southpaw girl Kei Takenaka (11-0, 3 KOs) will cope with also unbeaten Australian Louisa Hawton (6-0, 3 KOs) over ten rounds (two-minute session) in quest of the vacant WBO female 108-pound championship. It will also be a competitive confrontation.
Today we watched a weigh-in ceremony, where Takayama and Kano both tipped the beam at 105-pound class limit, while Takenaka scaled in at 107.5 to 106.75 for Hawton.
The officials are as follows: referee Danrex Tapdasan (Philippines); judges Lynne Carter (US), Waleska Roldan (US), Salven Lagumbay (Philippines); supervisor Leon Panoncillo (US)—for both title contests.
This WBO doubleheader will be presented by former OPBF welter champ Taisei Marumoto of Taisei Promotions that is located in his native Sanda city. [See image gallery at www.fightnews.com]
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