Last September we saw a huge, and highly controversial, Bantamweight fight in Japan as Shinsuke Yamanaka (25-0-2, 17) retained his WBC title with a split decision win over Panama's Anselmo Moreno (36-4-1, 12). The bout, a mandatory defence for Yamanaka, saw many suggest Yamanaka had gotten a gift and soon lead to Moreno getting a world title eliminator for a rematch. The Panamanian won the eliminator, defeating Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, and put us where we are today.
In their first bout Yamanaka really struggled to land clean on Moreno. His much vaunted power was neutralised and he was made to look slow and old, like a man struggling to give 100% of himself at the weight. Since then he has fought once, over-coming Liborio Solis in a a bout that saw both men being dropped, twice. For Moreno he's also fought just once since the first bout, scoring the aforementioned win over Suriyan.
At his best Yamanaka was a destructive fighter with a vicious left hand, under-rated skills, and a good boxing mind. He wasn't the quickest or the most defensively sound but he was a big puncher who could take a shot and set them up. As he's gotten older however he's fallen in love with the power, and has become predictable with everyone knowing he's always looking to land the dynamite left hand.
At his best Yamanaka was a real sensation and his resume is incredibly impressive with wins against the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Tomas Rojas, Malcolm Tunacao, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Moreno and Solis. The last 3 of those wins however have made Yamanaka look more and more human and not like the force he once was.
At the age of 33 Yamanaka is old for a Bantamweight and he has been making the weight since 2006. It's fair to say the the weight is becoming harder and harder for him to make and at 5'7” he is a big Bantamweight. The age and struggles with weight have likely been plaguing Yamanaka in recent bouts, but he has continued to fight at the weight, a choice that has perhaps cost him in terms of performance.
Whilst Yamanaka is a true puncher the way we'd describe Moreno is as a pure boxer. He's tricky, he's smart and he's technically excellent with a lovely array of punches, intelligent movement, excellent defense and an amazing ability to read distance. In many ways he's an old school fighter with old school skills, and uses those skills, and his freakishly long arms, to neutralise opponents and get his own shots off.
Aged 30 Moreno is still in his prime and his resume is exceptional, with victories over the likes of Tomas Rojas, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Rolly Lunas, Mahyar Monshipour, Nehomar Cermeno, Lorenzo Parra, Vic Darchinyan and Suriyan. It may be noted that he has lost his last two bouts but both were in questionable circumstances and there is little doubting his claim to be one of the truly elite Bantamweights.
With 4 losses to his record the ignorant fan may well see him as a poor fighters but one of those losses was early in his career, one was to Abner Mares at a weight that Moreno looked poor at, and the other two were the questionable defeats, to Yamanaka and Juan Carlos Payano. He's far from a fighter coming to the end of his career and although he hasn't always looked fantastic he usually raises the bar when he's fighting a top opponent, like Yamanaka.
Whilst Yamanaka will be a confident fighter coming in to this fight. It is worth noting however that Panamanian fighters appears to have the number of Japanese fighters this year and we've already seen Jezreel Corrales stop Takashi Uchiyama and Luis Concepcion over-come Kohei Kono in Japan. A win for Moreno would complete a remarkable year for Panamanian fighters in Japan and would continue a great rivalry between the two countries, who have had a rivalry dating back decades.
We suspect that Moreno will come out on top here, with Yamanaka's poor recent performances coming to haunt him against a very skilled fighter. Yamanaka has a chance, a puncher always does, but we suspect he'll struggle again to land on the brilliant visitor, losing a clear cut decision.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.