Monday, 1 April 2013

Mario Rodriguez v Katsunari Takayama

Wow, that's all I can say. Not only did we have the bout between Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios on Saturday but we also had the hidden classic of Mario Rodriguez v Katsunari Takayama for the IBF Minimumweight title the same night. Although I may be in the minority saying this the Rodriguez v Takayama fight was arguable better than Rios v Alvarado II.

Japanese challenger Takayama (25-6-0-1, 10) fighting his fifth successive bout outside of his native Japan traveled to Rodriguez's (15-7-4, 11) homeland of Mexican and despite being the notable betting under-dog put on a performance for the ages as he annexed the world title to become a 2-time world champion.

The bout started fast as Takayama set an incredible pace with none stop work and movement. He wasn't just throwing relentlessly but he was bouncing about using his legs and feet just as much as his arms and hands as he got in, unloaded with fast shots and got out. It was an incredible start by the challenger who was impressive from the off.

Rodriguez wasn't to be totally over-whelmed however and managed to score a knockdown in round 3 in what was certainly his stand out moment of success as Takayama's confidence really grew and grew. The challenger's speed and combinations were amazing to see as he really just worked over the champion to head and body with wonderful eye catching flurries that bagged him round after round.

After having an almost unassailable lead Takayama went from a fighter dominating a world champion to a fighter making a point as he started to show boat in front Rodriguez's home fans, a move that must have infuriated an outclassed champion who's reign came to an end in just his first defense.

As the new champion Takayama is in a very select group of Japanese fighters to have claimed an IBF belt interestingly on his third attempt (after having a No Contest and a loss to South African Nkosinathi Joyi). It'll be interesting to see if the JCB allows him to defend his title at home or forces him to continue his road journey.

For Rodriguez this was a pretty humbling loss after scoring a huge upset victory over Joyi last year. A rematch between the two would not go amiss however I would imagine Takayama may himself want Joyi for a 3rd bout.

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