Of course the ending is only part of our story and how we get to the ending is often more interesting, and boy was this interesting with multiple momentum swings and both fighters being hurt multiple times.
The first started not with round 1 of fight 2 but with round 13 of the Yamanak Vs Moreno rivalry. Moreno came out fast and we had real highlight moments from both, with Yamanaka being clearly hurt from a series of solid left hands from the challenger, before landing his own left late and letting Moreno taste his power. You'd have assumed both would have though twice about about trading but they continued and Moreno was dropped late in the round. Despite both trading neither looked particularly reckless for the most part, instead trying to set things up with the jab, feinting and looking to draw counter opportunities. It was high speed chess with shot guns.
Moreno adjusted in round 2 and the pace started slower, though Moreno did pick things up mad with through the round with both standing fairly centrally and trading technically sound shots. There wasn't the drama of the opening round, but it always felt like we were on the verge of something big happening. The following round something big did happen with with both men being staggered and taking heavy but technically well thrown leather, for the most part.
In round 4 we saw Yamanaka have great success in the middle of the round, backing up the challenger and rocking him, it was a brilliant start but the round spun completely when Yamanaka had a left hand countered and was dropped hard himself. Although he got back to his feet he was clearly hurt and Moreno knew it as the two each swung in big shots. Those big shots resulted in Yamanaka being rocked again on the bell.
The open scoring favoured Yamanaka, just, with two scorecards reading 38-37 to Yamanka, twice, and the third card had the bout 37-37.
Round 5 again saw both men show of their best traits. Moreno was finding a way to land his left hand, he had all but neutralised Yamanaka's jab, which had been a key punch in his arsenal in the early rounds. With the jab gone Yamanaka managed to have some success in the middle of the round with the straight left hand and even landed a solid uppercut. The champions success was over-shadowed though when he was rocked big time, almost going down again, with a massive counter from Moreno. How Yamanaka stayed up was a mystery but it had saved him from a 10-8 round.
In the opening moments of round 6 the fight totally changed. Yamanaka landed what could only be described as a monstrous left hand which detonated clean on Moreno's jaw. Moreno fell hard from the shot and it seemed like the bout could be over there and then. Moreno's champion's spirit showed as he somehow got to his feet. Despite getting up he was clearly hurt and spent the round surviving, holding, moving and did next to nothing offensively in a round that seemed to spell the end.
Moreno managed to come out for round 7 but never looked like a man who had recovered and Yamanaka stalked him from the off, dropping him again with a humongous left hand. Again Moreno showed insurmountable courage to beat the count, some how. The referee allowed him to continue, though could easily have waved it off there and then. A follow up attack sent Moreno down again and that was it with the referee immediately calling a halt to the bout.
For Yamanaka the win clears up the doubts of the first bout. They show that at 33 he's learning, or re-learning, new things, he used his jab here more than he has in years. He scored a win that could well define his career, and cements his place as the premier Bantamweight on the planet.
The Panamanian, who had been really confident coming in to this one, had talked about moving up in weight and we suspect that'll be what he does now. This is however his first stoppage loss and it was a painful one, with the 4 knockdowns and other massive shots landing. His career isn't over but this was a damaging defeat and could have long term effects on his ability to take a shot.
With the WBC and Ring magazine titles around his waist Yamanaka will have several things in his sights. He is 2 defenses away from tying the Japanese defense record of 13 defenses, by Yoko Gushiken, and has long wanted a bout in the US. Perhaps, just maybe, a US bout will come in 2017 along with that Japanese record
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)