Seven years and six months.
That's how long it's been since WBC junior featherweight titleholder Toshiaki Nishioka, of Tokyo, has tasted defeat.
RingTV.com conducted this Q&A with Nishioka, whose 35th birthday in July puts him in a similar category as 34-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr., 36-year-old Sergio Martinez and 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins when it comes to longevity and staying power.
Nishioka (38-4-3, 24 KOs) has a not lost since being out-pointed by long-reigning WBC bantamweight titleholder and Thai legend Veeraphol Sahaprom in March of 2004.
He has a 15-bout winning streak that includes 10 knockouts and a 12th-round stoppage of Genaro Garcia in January of 2009 that was the first defense of the belt he earned with a unanimous decision over Napapol Sor Rungvisai in September of 2008.
Nishioka is the last man to defeat WBC featherweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez (50-7, 44 KOs), of Mexico City, who scored his 10th straight knockout against Rogers Matagwa on Sept. 15. Nishioka rose from a first-round knockdown to both drop and stop Gonzalez in the third round of their fight in May of 2009.
He would consider it a crowning achievement to retire after defeating WBA and WBO bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs), who scored his 25th straight win and his 10th stoppage during that run with a second-round knockout of three-division beltholder Fernando Montiel (46-3-2, 36 KOs).
On Saturday night, Nishioka aims to become the first man from Japan to successfully defend his crown on American soil in the seventh defense of his belt against former champ Rafael Marquez (40-6, 36 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Nishioka will be making only his third appearance in the United States against the 36-year-old Mexican veteran, who is coming off of a sixth-round knockout of Eduardo Becerril in July. That stoppage helped Marquez rebound from an eighth-round stoppage loss to Juan Manuel Lopez in a failed bid to win the WBO featherweight belt.
Two previous appearances in Las Vegas were at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino respectively, where Nishioka stopped Evangelio Perez in the first round in December of 2002, and Jose Alonso in the fourth round in November of 2006.
RingTV.com: How many hours was your flight from Japan, and is there any jet lag?
But I arrived in good sprits in to McCarran [in Las Vegas] last week. Jet lag is not so bad once I started working out. It seems to adjust my body clock to the local time.
TN: My concern, first and foremost, is concentrating on fighting Rafael Marquez, and anything else is secondary. I have stated that I will be the first Japanese fighter to successfully defend the world title on U.S. soil.
RingTV.com: How do you account for your 15 straight victories?
TN: After the second Veeraphol fight, I had an injury to my Achilles tendon.
Deciding to continue my boxing career after surgery and dedicating myself to recover from the injury has made me a stronger fighter, both physically and mentally.
RingTV.com: Being 35 years old, how do you account for your youth and vigor and the ability to achieve uncommon success such as that by Mayweather, Martinez and Hopkins?
TN: I feel that it has made me a smarter and more intelligent fighter both in and out the ring. Losing a fight is always frustrating, especially on a close decision. I have learned to fight and prepare smarter.
RingTV.com: Looking back, how rewarding is the fact that you were the last man to defeat Gonzalez, who hasn't lost since then?
TN: I have a great respect for Jhonny Gonzalez. Having a win over Jhonny is one of the great moments in my career.
TN: If the opportunity arises again, I would like to fight in the United States again. I feel very comfortable fighting in the U.S.
TN: Being at 122 pounds, that is a comfortable weight class for me. I have no thoughts at the moment in moving up in weight. I want to beat Donaire at 122 pounds, and maybe to retire after that.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com