Back in November 1997 the massively popular Joichiro Tatsuyoshi reclaimed the WBC Bantamweight title in his thrilling fight with Thailand's Sirimongkol Singwancha. That victory, in the Castle Hall, Osaka, gave "Joe" a career revival and was also the fight that triggered many of the top current Japanese boxing stars to get into the sport.
One of the men genuinely inspired by "Joe's" win over Sirimongkol was Shinsuke Yamanaka who will be bringing the WBC Bantamweight title back to the Castle Hall as he hunts his 6th world title defence on Wednesday.
The historical aspect of all of this isn't lost on the current champion who was talking about his memories of watching Tasuyoshi's bout with Sirimongkol in the build up to his own bout with Stephane Jamoye.
Although style wise Yamanaka and Tatsuyoshi are completely different fighters it's fair to suggest that "The God of Left" will be hoping to inspire the next generation of Japanese boxers with an impressive victory over Jamoye just like Tatsuyoshi inspired much of the current, "golden generation" of Japanese fighters.
Whilst Tatsuyoshi's victory did give him a career revival and lead to a year long reign as the world champion it's fair to suggest that Yamanaka has different aspirations. For him this is about proving he's the top fighter at 118lbs and a man with a lot more to give the sport. The idea seems to be that after this fight he'll be making his US debut before pursuing a bout with popular Mexican-American Leo Santa Cruz, of course he'll need to beat Jamoye here to keep that dream alive.
(Image, of Yamanaka and Jamoye, courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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