Another man who can render opponents unconscious on a whim is Japanese southpaw Shinsuke Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15). The reigning WBC Bantamweight champion might "only" have a 68% KO record but he is a fearsome puncher and he knows it. The stats, suggesting he stops less than 7 in every 10 opponents, don't take into account the fact he has gone the distance just once in his last 15 contests. This is a man whose power, or rather the ability to use it, wasn't natural but was something he learned to deliver and has managed to really deliver.
This coming Wednesday sees Yamanaka returning to the ring in an attempt to score his 5th straight stoppage and his 6th successive world title defence as he takes on the popular and fun to watch Stephane Jamoye (25-4, 15) of Belgium. Interestingly Jamoye has faced other reigning and former world champions. The two current world champions he has faced are WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda and WBC Super Bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, both men that Yamanaka has suggest he'd like to fight.
In his bouts against Kameda and Santa Cruz we saw Jamoye come up short. Against Kameda is a narrow and controversial defeat to then Mexican based Japanese fighter, against Santa Cruz however Jamoye was stopped in 6 following a vicious body shot. For Yamanaka a win isn't what he wants, what he wants is a better win than either Santa Cruz or Kamda managed against the Belgian.
Those two losses for Jamoye both came more than 3 years ago but will serve as a marker for Yamanaka who is hell bent on prove that he is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters out there right now.
Yamanaka is one of the jewels in Japanese boxing. He combines not only thunderous power, from his left hand, but an understanding of the ring, an ability to go to war, lethal finishing instincts, under-rated speed and a genuine calmness to work. If he wants to box he can do it, if he wants to brawl he'll do that, if he wants to patiently wait for his opportunity he can do that. He's amazingly versatile in the ring though knows that he need only connect once with his straight left hand to have an opponent completely void of their senses.
The one complaint with Yamanaka is that he can be a bit one handed. His right hand is rarely used as well as it should be and instead of using his hooks and jabs to set up his work he tends to depend on his footwork and cleaver ability to control the distance whilst his left hand is cocked ready to be uncoiled. If you enjoy the mastery behind Guillermo Ringondeaux or Floyd Mayweather Jr then Yamanaka should be your type of guy when he's deciding to box. When he's looking to fight however he's a whole different animal, just ask Ryosuke Iwasa who went toe-to-toe with Yamanaka in a thriller before finally being stopped in a Japanese title fight.
We're expecting to see Yamanaka the fighter when he gets in the ring with Jamoye. Not only do we expect to see Yamanaka turn fighter in an attempt to beat Kameda and Santa Cruz but also because of Jamoye's style. The Belgian is an in your face pressure fighter with a love of a good old fashioned tear up.
Jamoye can be out boxed, he was recently by Karim Guerfi, but he loves a tear up and if an opponent doesn't decide to pot shot him they are usually in for a hard fight. This was seen in Jamoye's bouts with Lee Haskins and Jamie McDonnell, both of which were thrilling contests from start to end. We expect Yamanaka to be willing to have a tear up here and we expecting him to look for the right hook that he's been spending time practising in the US and of course his destructive straight left hand.
With Santa Cruz taking 6 rounds we think Yamanaka will be looking for a finish in round 4. He may not get it but we can't see this one going much further. Our prediction is Yamanaka TKO5 with Jamoye just making it out of the 4th to be met by an almost psychotic Yamanaka in the 5th who will march out with nasty intentions and make sure he punishes the Belgian.
After the fight we almost certain that Yamanaka will mention either the US or Leo Santa Cruz. We know that's the fight he wants though we do expect him to have to wait with Santa Cruz likely to face Carl Frampton first some time this year. That would, in theory, open the door for Yamanaka to fight on a US show to raise his profile there before fighting Santa Cruz in early 2015.
-This bout is one of 2 world title on the same show, the other will feature Hozumi Hasegawa fighting Kiko Martinez in an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob)