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Takashi Uchiyama had his first bout of 2014 on the very final day of the year. In fact, it was his first fight in exactly a year, since last New Year’s Eve.

That long layoff didn’t bother the 35-year-old champion, however.

Uchiyama defended his WBA super featherweight belt for the ninth time with a technical knockout victory over Israel Perez on Wednesday night at Ota City General Gymnasium.

Uchiyama calmly continued to land a variety of blows to pile up the damage on the challenger from Argentina, and referee Rafael Ramos stopped the fight before the 10th round began as Perez could no longer fight. Officially, it was a TKO win at the end of the ninth round for Uchiyama.

“(Perez) had good defense and I had a tough time from early in the fight until midway through,” Uchiyama said. “But I inflicted a lot of damage (in the ninth) and I thought I could take him down toward the end of it.

“I wish I could have fought a better fight so the fans would gotten even more excited, though.”

Uchiyama, who stayed undefeated with a 22-0-1 record, added that he was able to maintain his cool from the beginning despite his long absence from the ring.

“I was able to fight as I’d always done, leading with jabs,” said Uchiyama, who is nicknamed “the Knockout Dynamite.”

In the WBA super flyweight championship, Kohei Kono defended his belt for the first time with a draw against Norberto Jimenez of the Dominican Republic.

Kono maintained his bullfighting style throughout the 12 rounds, but struggled to catch the quick-footed Jimenez, who avoided serious blows by stepping back and running around the ring.

Kono seemed to be favored in the decision, but one judge gave it to Jimenez and another ruled a draw.

“I wanted to showcase my own boxing a little bit more,” said the 34-year-old Kono, whose pro record is now 30 wins, eight losses and a draw.

Kono was satisfied with the fact that he retained his belt, nevertheless.

“If I’d lost this, I’d have lost my belt,” said Kono, who won the belt in March. “I boldly fought with my retirement on the line. And the belt is still here with me, that means I still can box.”

Ryoichi Taguchi defeated 36-year-old veteran champion Alberto Rossel in an unanimous decision in their WBA light flyweight title match to claim the first world championship of his 24-bout pro career.

Taguchi took advantage of his height and reach over the 158-cm Peruvian. He sent Rossel to the canvas twice, in the eighth and ninth apiece, yet wasn’t able to finish him with a KO.

“I can’t believe this. I’m just so happy,” said the 28-year-old Taguchi. “I wanted to finish him with a KO. I still need to get stronger.”

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