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Thursday, August 7, 2014
Rare strawweight unification on Saturday

By Dan Rafael

Strawweight unification fights are rare.

Hall of Famer Ricardo Lopez of Mexico, the greatest strawweight of all time, fought two of them in his heyday, knocking out Alex "Nene" Sanchez in the fifth round in 1997 and then fighting to an eight-round technical draw in his next fight against Rosendo Alvarez in their classic in 1998 (the lone blemish on Lopez's record).
More recently, Japan's Kazuto Ioka unified two of the 105-pound titles by outpointing countryman Akira Yaegashi in June 2012.

Now, another strawweight unification match is on tap as Mexico's Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (14-2, 10 KOs) and Katsunari Takayama (27-6, 10 KOs) of Japan are set to meet on Saturday night in Monterrey, Mexico, in what could be a very entertaining fight.

Rodriguez, 21, will be making his first defense and Takayama, 31, will be making his third defense. And the good news for American fight fans is that the bout will air on beIN Sports Espanol (11 ET).

"We did a lot of preparation in Osaka for 70 intense days," Takayama said through a translator. "We are ready for everything this Mexican has. Rodriguez is very hungry, young and ambitious, and that makes it dangerous, but I have my experience and my intelligence to defeat him in his own house."

Said Rodriguez, “I look forward to being in the ring with Takayama and to me giving my people a historic victory."