He knows it sounded weird, but Takashi Uchiyama said he’s spent significant time in training since he took his first professional loss to Jezreel Corrales earlier this year.
Now it’s time for the 37-year-old to capitalize on that valuable time in a rematch against the Panamanian on New Year’s Eve at Ota City General Gymnasium.
“Since I lost to him, I’ve reflected on it, thinking of who I am and all that,” Uchiyama said at a signing ceremony for their world-title fight at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday.
Uchiyama lost the WBA super featherweight champion belt that he held for six years (11 consecutive title defenses) when he fell to Corrales via a second-round technical knockout in April.
Of course, for Uchiyama, the frustration of losing has been his driving force, his motivation to work as hard as he can. He confessed that when he was the champion, he’d think that he’d be able to win if he practiced and fought normally. But now, Uchiyama’s mentality for his upcoming bout is completely different.
“My mindset has been different and I’m excited to see what will happen,” said Uchiyama, who’s 24-1-1 (20 knockouts) in his professional career. “I don’t care how, I just want to win. I won’t look at anything but putting in all my power to win it.”
Corrales, meanwhile, doesn’t intend to let Uchiyama get revenge.
“I’m healthy, and my motivation is high, and I’m really looking forward to the fight,” said the 25-year-old boxer, who’s 20-1-0 as a pro, through an interpreter. “I think my mentality has gotten stronger and gotten even hungrier. So I want to be the winner again.”
In their previous fight, Uchiyama wasn’t able to adjust to Corrales’ athleticism and speed. The Japanese hard puncher, who’s nicknamed “Knockout Dynamite,” said he won’t let it happen again.
“As we’ve faced each other, I know he’s faster and got more reaction speed than me. I’ve got to acknowledge that,” said Uchiyama, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the division by the WBA. “One of the keys will be how I won’t let him capitalize on his own strengths. If I can do that, I believe I can own the pace.”
On the same fight card, WBA light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi will try to defend his title for the fifth time in a bout against Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales.
“This is my first fight since I turned 30 years old, but I don’t want to lose this one,” said the Tokyo native, who celebrated his birthday on Dec. 1.
Canizales, ranked No. 3 by the WBA, is an extremely tough opponent for Taguchi.
“I’ve done satisfactory training back in Venezuela, so I can showcase my (skills) 100 percent,” said the 23-year-old Canizales, who brings a 16-0 record as a pro into the fight. “Taguchi is a tough fighter, but I’m tough as well and it’ll be a good fight.”
Elsewhere, at the same hotel, there were weigh-ins for the boxers scheduled to fight in a Friday event at Ariake Colosseum.
WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0-0) and the challenger, ex-WBA super flyweight title holder Kohei Kono (32-9-1), both safely made their weight.
IBF light flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5-0), who aims to defend his title for the second time against challenger Wittawas Basapean, also stepped onto the scale without any problems.
London Olympic middleweight gold medalist Ryota Murata (11-0-0) will not fight in a title match, but there’s been speculation that he will have a legitimate shot at challenging WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders of Britain next spring if he beats Mexican Bruno Sandoval in this show and negotiations go well.
Murata didn’t make a fuss about the potential world-title shot, but wants to prove that he deserves a shot at fighting for a world championship.
“I’m focusing on displaying my own performance that I’ve practiced,” Murata, 30, said. “And hopefully, my performance will make people think that I can have a world-title shot.”
Bantamweight fighter Satoshi Shimizu, who earned a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games, is also on the undercard against Mexican Carlo Demecillo in his second pro bout on Friday night.