Whilst the opponents for those bouts certainly aren't etched in stone it does look like he's going to be keeping a very close eye on the IBF situation which appears set to unfold in the coming months. From what we understand we're weeks away from finding out the date and venue of the upcoming IBF Interim title bout between Ryosuke Iwasa (19-1, 12) and Lee Haskins (31-3, 13). If Randy Caballero's (22-0, 13) injury does keep him out of the ring for a prolonged period he'll be stripped and the winner of the Iwasa/Haskins bout will be upgraded.
If Iwasa ends up being the man who comes out on top of the IBF situation then it's likely we will see Yamanaka Vs Iwasa II in a unification bout, with that bout possibly being the December bout.
Another possibility extends from the growing rumour that Ryo Matsumoto (14-0, 12) will be fighting Juan Carlos Payano (16-0, 8) in a bout for the WBA "super" title. If that happens in the summer, as expected, then a possible match up between the winner of that bout and Yamanaka could be made for December.
There are a few options we can rule out. It seems clear that a bout with the unbeaten Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19) is off the table, it'd be a bout that would be almost impossible to make at the moment due to the politics of the sport and the promotional situation of Kameda.We'd also rule out a bout between Yamanaka and the sensational Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7), despite some forum users wanting that bout. Firstly we don't expect to see Inoue move to 118lbs this year, secondly the two men have contracts with TV companies, Yamanaka is with NTV whilst Inoue is with Fuji TV.
If Yamanaka does fit another 2 fights in before the year is out it would be only the second time since 2010, following 2013, where he has fought 3 times in a year.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)