A look at the Transnational Boxing Rankings shows that Takashi Uchiyama of Japan reigns as the #1 ranked Junior Lightweight fighter in the world today. Uchiyama has long held the number one spot, and this past New Year's Eve, he stopped challenger Oliver Flores in the third round to further entrench himself as the top gun in the weight class.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been working to set up a 2016 match-up for Uchiyama against Nicholas Walters, and it was revealed that talks for Uchiyama to fight outside of Japan for the first time are underway.
Walters is currently ranked 9th at 130 lbs. by the TBR but he is undefeated at (26-0-1) and is a former world champion at 126 lbs. The match-up with Walters is certainly one that would present Uchiyama with a challenge.
Uchiyama is already 36 years old, and his record of (24-0-1) has been built up over 10 years fighting exclusively in Japan. Fighting at home, he has faced a high level of competition, both homegrown and imported, and he has held the WBA World title at Super Featherweight for more than five years. Uchiyama has grown into a star, headlining the prestigious New Year's Eve events for the last five years in a row.
Bob Arum is trying to make Uchiyama's debut in the United States happen, and betting against the Top Rank chief is hard to do. The Japanese boxing scene is robust and self-supporting and stars rarely leave to fight abroad. Last year, the Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon, made big news by signing the trio of Kameda brothers (Daiki, Koki and Tomoki) to a promotional agreement and featuring them in fights in the United States. You can be sure Arum, who is embroiled in a lawsuit with Haymon and the PBC took notice and Arum has reportedly been working overtime to bring Uchiyama into the fold.
When the Kameda brothers came to the US with Haymon, them and their controversial father broke ties with Japanese boxing, and they may never fight in Japan again. A veteran like Uchiyama will want to avoid that type of friction with his ties to Japanese boxing. If Arum can overcome those types of issues, you can look for Uchiyama to accept the challenge of Walters sometime in the spring.