Right now we're less than 12 hours away from Shinsuke Yamanaka's (22-0-2, 16) next defense of the WBC Bantamweight title, though already talk has turned to the future. That's despite the fact that Akihiko Honda, the chairman of Teiken. was quoted in the media as saying that Yamanka's upcoming bout, a contest with Diego Ricardo Santillan (23-0, 15) isn't an easy fight and will be the focus for now.
This morning saw several Japanese news outlets mentioning that Yamanaka and his team are hoping to get unification bouts later in the year. That currently leaves 3 notable options.
The one considered the most likely by one source was a bout with Dominican fighter Juan Carlos Payano, who currently holds the WBA "super" title. It's seen as likely due to the WBC and WBA working together in recent times and due to the recognition of the WBA in Japan, despite the fact the organiation has taken a hit in recent times. Notably however there is a growing rumour that a deal has been done for Payano to fight Ryo Matsumoto in the summer on a card being put together by the Ohashi gym. It's known that Matsumoto wants to fight at the world level and it's viewed that this would be the best option for him.
The second most likely option according to the source is an IBF clash with Randy Caballero. Unfortunately however Caballero has been injured in recent times and the IBF have moved towards organising an IBF interim title fight between Ryosuke Iwasa and Lee Haskins. In theory Caballero could vacate the title leaving the winner of the Iwasa/Haskins bout as the new champion and, if Iwasa wins, we really could be on the verge of a highly anticipated rematch between the two Japanese fighters who were involved in a Japanese FOTY in 2011. If Haskins was to win then solid money would likely be put to him to make him travel for a unification bout.
Sadly the source has indicated that a bout with WBO champion, and fellow Japanese fighter, Tomoki Kameda is incredibly unlikely. First Kameda is banned from Japan, a real stumbling block, secondly Kameda looks like he is set to be stripped of the WBO title ahead of his WBA "regular" title bout with Jamie McDonnell, thirdly the WBA "regular" title isn't really accepted in Japan if there is a "super" champion. There are numerous other reasons as to why the fight is unlikely though the only thing we really need to say is that we're disappointed that it seems to be a bout that we simply won't be getting.
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