Though he didn't need the knockout, Takashi Uchiyama wanted it.
With less than 20 seconds to go in a fight he had largely dominated, Uchiyama finished off WBA junior lightweight titleholder Juan Carlos Salgado with a blitz of punches. Having decked Salgado moments earlier, Uchiyama went in for the kill, and the referee eventually had no choice but to stop the fight, giving Uchiyama the title he would have won within seconds by decision.
Uchiyama (14-0, 11 KO) was ahead 107-102 on two cards and 106-103 on a third. Bad Left Hook had him leading 108-101 when he finished off the young Mexican ex-titlist.
For Salgado, it's the first loss on his sheet, and it also says a whole lot more about where he's really at in his career than the stunning first round stoppage of Jorge Linares did last October. Salgado (21-1-1, 15 KO) was badly outclassed from a technical standpoint by Uchiyama, who was far better defensively and always seemed to be at least one step ahead of Salgado mentally.
It doesn't mean Salgado is a bad fighter, nor does this mean Uchiyama is a great one. By virtue of winning a title and the general overrating of first round knockouts, the Salgado hype train might have gotten a bit ahead of itself. Watching this fight and having seeing Jorge Linares plenty, I feel confident in saying that if Linares and Salgado fight ten times -- and they should at least rematch -- Linares is going to win 8 or 9 of them.
Salgado certainly has talent, and he showed heart, trying to come back into the fight late. That's what got him knocked out, really. He was still trying to win. But he's still a bit rough around the edges, and showed massive defensive flaws in his first title defense, flaws which Uchiyama used liberally to his advantage.
For Uchiyama, it's a major title and the chance to become a pretty big star in Japan. He's not at all boring, which you might expect of a guy with a long amateur career, and he has some real thud in his punches. If Linares wants his title back, the road to get it now ends at a tougher proposition than Salgado. Uchiyama is a far more complete boxer.
In the co-feature, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (40-1, 28 KO) retained his WBA junior featherweight title with a rugged majority decision win over Satoshi Hosono (16-1, 12 KO). I missed rounds seven through nine, but what I did see was a fight that could have taken place in a 10x10 ring for the most part. These guys were right there with each other. I had Poonsawat winning four of the first six rounds, but all of them were pretty competitive. Official scores were 114-114, 117-113 and 115-113.
I would truly love to see Poonsawat get himself on American TV against one of the other top fighters at 122, and I still think Poonsawat-Caballero would be an incredibly interesting fight given Poonsawat's fearlessness and Caballero's freakish height. It won't happen, but it'd be fun.