By David Finger
For WBO interim 105-pound champion Tatsuya Fukuhara, his eagerly anticipated all-Japan unification bout against WBO 105-pound champion in recess Katsunari Takayama won’t be moving forward as planned. The 33-year old Takayama, 31-8, 12 KOs, notified the WBO of his retirement from the sport of boxing last week, prompting the WBO to name Fukuhara the WBO mini flyweight champion.
“As soon as we received official notice of retirement of (Takayama) we elevated the interim champion to champion,” WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said of the move.
But Japanese fight fans still have an exciting all-Japan bout featuring the all-action Fukuhara to look forward to. Fukuhara, 19-4-6, 7 KOs, has been ordered to defend his title against #1 contender Ryuya Yamanaka, 14-2, 4 KOs, in 90 days.
“He has 90 days to defend against the #1 contender,” Valcarcel added. “And he has 30 days to negotiate the fight.”
Fukuhara has emerged as one of the sport’s most exciting champions after his gritty decision victory over Moises Calleros for the interim title back in February. The fight was a back and forth brawl that emerged as an early candidate for fight of the year after Fukuhara overcame a cut and the bone-crushing power of Calleros to secure a split decision victory and the WBO belt. Yamanaka is perhaps best known for his impressive decision victory over Merlito Sabillo back in November for the vacant OPBF minimumweight title.