Much like countryman Takashi Uchiyama, we saw Shinsuke Yamanaka enter the decade as a virtual unknown outside of his homeland, yet go on to make a a huge statement, and become the man who many regarded as the best in his division. Unlike Uchiyama however Yamanaka did it from an even lesser stand point, and scored more wins that resonated internationally.
At the start of the decade Yamanaka was still fighting in 8 rounders, blasting out Kazuharu Morimoto inside a round in his first bout of the decade. A fight later and he was the Japanese champion, stopping Mikio Yasuda for the title. His reign was a short one, but included a tremendous 2011 win over future world champion Ryosuke Iwasa. Just 8 months after making his sole defense of the Japanese title Yamanaka would get his first world title bout, and would stop Christian Esquivel in 11 rounds to claim the WBC title, and begin a legendary reign.
Going through the early part of Yamanaka's reign reads like a who's who of the lower weights from the turn of the decade. His first defense saw him out point Vis Darchinyan, before scoring a KO of the Year contender of Tomas Rojas. In his third defense he stopped former WBO Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao, giving the Filipino only his second ever stoppage loss.
Sadly his reign then took a nose dive, and opponents like Jose Nieves, Alberto Guevara and Stephane Jamoye did little for Yamanaka's legacy.
Thankfully his reign picked up again towards the end with really solid wins over Suriyan Por Chokchai, Anselmo Moreno, twice, and Liborio Solis. Those wins were big, career enhancing victories with the second Yamanaka fight and the Solis one, being particularly exciting bouts with both men being dropped.
Sadly Yamanaka's great reign came to an end in 2017 when he lost to Luis Nery, who had failed a pre-fight drugs test. A rematch with an over-weight Nery in 2018 saw Yamanaka lose again, to end his career with back to back losses to the same man, a lot like Uchiyama did with Jezreel Corrales.
Although technically a very flawed fighter, and a very basic one, Yamanaka's success and wins over notable fighters earns him a high ranking here. He wasn't a true pound-for-pound boxer, he was far too limited for that, but what he did was fight to his strengths, make the most of his dynamite left hand and had great success despite his technical limitations. Although it's harsh to say it, Yamanaka was a genuine over-achiever, and legitimately became one of the biggest Asian stars of the decade.
For those who haven't seen much of Yamanaka, we've included his wins over
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features