When Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) [井上 尚弥] turned professional his team spoke as if he was a special talent. Soon after his debut he proved it, beating the talented Yuki Sano essentially one handed in just his third bout. He then claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout by defeating Ryoichi Taguchi. In just his 6th professional bout he claimed his first world title, stopping Adrian Hernandez for the WBC Light Flyweight title. Less than 9 months later he moved up 2 divisions and destroyed Omar Narvaez for the WBO Super Flyweight title.
Today he impressed again as he ripped the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title from Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-3-1-1, 13) in less than 2 minutes.
Inoue had stated he was looking to stop McDonnell before the fight, with the Englishman having never previous been stopped. It seemed a brash comment, but given how Inoue, dubbed the "Monster" has fought his career so far it was one few were doubting.
What no one, and we doubt even Inoue was expecting, was the performance he had. He was dwarfed when the fighters met in center ring for the final instructions from the referee but that seemed to be the only thing going against him. Within seconds he had McDonnell, the bigger fighter, circling the ring, and firing off a few jabs. Inoue just walked his man down and landed a huge shot up top that seemed to hurt the Englishman. Inoue smell blood and went for the kill and dropped McDonnell with a body shot.
To his credit McDonnell got back to his feet, but Inoue could see his wounded prey and went back on the offensive, unloading bombs on McDonnell who went down for the second time. The referee had seen enough and instantly waved the fight off.
Although the WBA “regular” title may not be highly regarded a win like this really launches Inoue into the stratosphere at 118lbs, and should secure him a place in the World Boxing Super Series, as well as a place on every fight fans Pound-for-Pound list, not just that of the real hardcore fans.
For McDonnell the future is certainly going to see him moving up in weight, but to have been blitzed in this manner may well end his career. He was beaten up, not just beaten, in 112 seconds by a man he out weighed by 13lbs on the day of the fight and boasted significant size advantages over. When he moves up those size advantages aren't going to be there, and this loss will be in the memory of every future opponent he faces.
In boxing it's hard to think of a persona non-gratis, but that certainly seems to describe former WBC Bantamweight champion Luis Nery (26-0, 20) in regards to Japan. Last year he defeated Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-2-2, 19) [山中慎介] to claim the WBC Bantamweight title, but would fail a drugs tests. A rematch was planned for the title, though yesterday Nery came in massively over-weight and even with a 2 hour grace period still couldn't make the Bantamweight limit causing him to be stripped of the title on the scales.
Despite failing to make weight the rematch went ahead today, and unfortunately for Yamanaka he was stopped again. This time in 2 rounds in what looks likely to be his final bout.
The Japanese fighter looked good, for the first minute, as he landed several body shots but as soon as Nery landed anything it seemed like Yamanaka was troubled, his punch resistance seemingly gone. A jab sent Yamanaka's knees to jelly and he was dropped, though it was incorrectly ruled a slip. Not long after that he was down, and it ruled a knockdown.
Yamanaka saw out the first round but Nery smelled blood. Yamanaka was down again very early in round 2. When he got up his looked all wrong with his balance gone. He was down again moments later, before a third knockdown of the round saw the referee stop the bout.
Given how easily he went down, and his age, this is almost certainly it for Yamanaka who had a great career before the first bout with Nery. He managed to record 12 defense and will go down as one of Japan's greatest world champions. Sadly though his career will be finished with back to back losses, both in tainted bouts.
For Nery it's hard to know what's next. His failed drug's test and inability to make weight has seriously tainted his two best wins. He's a very good fighter, but we really don't know how good he actually is. Had he not failed a drugs test or failed to make weight he would likely be regarded as one of the top Bantamweights on the planet. Now however he looks like someone who can't score a world class win cleanly. He looks like a fighter who needs unfair advantages and will likely have that sort of reputation going forward. He may well struggle to get big fights after the weight fiasco and will almost certainly have to be fighting at 122lbs, if not 126lbs going forward, where his natural size will be less effective.
It's a real shame to see Yamanaka bow out on back-to-back losses to someone who has essentially cheated in both fights but it's really time he walked away and spent time with his kids, his family and looked for future ventures, including potentially become a gym owner or a trainer.
It's worth noting that the title will remain vacant, and could well be on the line for a bout between Petch Sor Chitpattana and Emmanuel Rodriguez, who had previously been ordered to fight in an eliminator.
Over the last 12 months or so we have seen the long established guard of Japan fall, piece by piece, with fighters like former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama, former WBC Super Featherweight champion Takashi Miura, former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono and former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi all lose in major bouts, and the two Takashi have since announced their retirement. The one member of the old guard left standing was Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19) [山中慎介],a long term WBC Bantamweight champion who had racked up 12 defenses and had ruled the roost for around 7 years, proving to be the king of the division. Today however he became the latest veteran champion of Japan to be beaten by a younger, fresher fighter, as he was stopped in 4 rounds unbeaten Mexican Luis Nery (24-0, 18).
The Japanese champion, known as "God's Left" was looking to tie the long standing Japanese record of 13 world title defenses, a record set back in the early 1980's by Yoko Gushiken. It was a big ask at the age of 34, but with Yamanaka's reign having been so long it was hard to see past him, especially with Nery having never really faced a top flight Bantamweight prior to this bout.
The opening round went almost perfectly for Yamanaka, who controlled the tempo well with his jab, movement and occassional straight. It was as if Nery was was in awe of his opponent, and only launched one of attack of any note during the opening round. The second round was similar, though their was more from Nery who was beginning to show signs of warming to the task, but did get forced to eat some solid left hands.
Nery continued to warm to the task, and in round 3 he began to hold his own in a close round. His moments of success from the first two rounds had been multiplied and he was beginning to show what he was capable of. The early respect was slowly going and he was beginning to move through the gears.
Whilst Nery was building up his steam no one expected him to go from 3rd gear to 5th to begin round 4, but he really came out swinging and rocked Yamanaka very early in the round. He knew Yamanaka was hurt and swarmed him like a hungry lion trying to take out it's prey. Yamanaka seemed to see off the first wave of the attack, but was rocked again soon afterwards, and this time he wasn't able to get away, with Nery refusing to stop throwing until the bout was stopped, with Yamanaka's team coming in to save him. Some how he had stayed on his feet what felt like a 90 second pounding, but he did look out of it and and in tears as the bout was stopped.
The arena fell silent except for the Mexican's team, who now have a potential lower-weight mega star on their hands. The fans were in shock at one of their hero's being dethroned, though they did show respect soon afterwards, applauding the new champion, and chanting their hero out of the arena soon afterwards.
Whilst Japanese boxing has seen a lot of it's veterans coming up short, it's clear that the sport it's self is still red hot in Japan and that we've almost seen the new generation of fighters over-take the old generation, with only Kazuto Ioka bridging the likes of Yamanaka, Hozumi Hasegawa, Uchiyama and Yaegashi, whilst other sensational talents have come through, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, with others, like Hinata Maruta, are just beginning to move into the international title scene. This might be the end of Yamanaka, but it's certainly not the end of Japanese boxing, or even the Teiken gym, who have fighters like Hayate Kaji and Shuya Masaki breaking through the ranks, and looking fantastic doing so.
If, as we suspect, this will be Yamanaka's final outing, we want to thank him for helping establish the old era of Japanese boxing, and wish Nery the best luck as a champion. And we expect we'll see him back in Japan sooner, rather than later.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
In late 2015 Filipino slugger Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13) travelled to Japan and blitzed the fast rising Shohei Omori (18-2, 13) [大森 将平] in two thoroughly one sided rounds. Following that win Tapales went on to win the WBO Bantamweight title in a thriller with Pungluang Sor Singyu in Thailand.
A return bout between Tapales and Omori was made as Tapales' first defense of the title, though unfortunately the Filipino was unable to make weight, forcing the title to become vacant, though the bout went ahead as planned early today. A win for Omori would have seen him become the new champion, with any other result leaving the title vacant.
Having been blasted out in 2 rounds last time, and dropped 3 times in the opening round, it was clear that Omori would be more catious this time and that showed as he looked to establish his jab and keep himself away from Tapales' power. Despite the intelligent game plan it didn't prevent Tapales from applying pressure, which he did excellently in rounds 2 and 3.
Given Tapales struggled to make weight it was clear that Omori was trying to see off the early storm without taking much in terms of damaging shots. In round 4, with Tapales slowing, Omori began to up his own output and upped it again in round 5 as he clearly hurt the Filipino with a series of body shots, clearly aware that body shots had twice dropped Tapales against Pungluang. The Filipino however saw off the storm and came back in round 6, with Omori backing up through the round.
Omori tried to take control in round 7, launching a huge assault at the start of the round. He had Tapales in all sorts of trouble but the tough Filipino rode out the storm and ended the round the better fighter, with both men looking like they had taken a huge amount out of each other.
In round 8 and 9 both men looked physically exhausted and neither had more the flashes of success, with both visibly worn out from the war that they'd had. From then on it seemed like a case that we were either going to the judges, or the fight would change on a single moment. That moment came late in round 10, when Tapales landed a thunderbolt of an uppercut that dropped Omori. The Japanese fighter recovered to his feet but looked gone, with the referee seemingly buying him a few extra seconds to recover. Those few extra seconds helped Omori get through the round, just, but didn't give him nearly enough time to get his wits.
At the start of round 11 Tapales rushed out to a still shaken Omori and unloaded, forcing the referee to end the bout just 16 seconds into the round.
For now the the title is technically vacant, however Zolani Tete won the interim title yesterday, beating Filipino Arthur Villanueva, an dis likely to be upgraded as the whole WBO Bantamweight title scene gets a weekend of huge shake ups. The champion lost his belt, the #1 and #6 ranked fighters both lost and the previously #2 ranked Tete becomes the champion. In theory it opens the door for #3 ranked Omar Narvaez to get a shot, and potentially for Naoya Inoue to move up later in the year for a shot at becoming a 3-weight champion.
On Saturday morning we saw the WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) being stripped of his title due to a failure to make weight ahead of his first defense, a bout against Shohei Omori (18-1, 13) [大森 将平] on Sunday.
Due to the stripping of Tapales, and the potential long term vacancy, the WBO seemingly upgraded the status of the bout between Zolani Tete (25-3, 20) and Arthur Villanueva (30-2, 16), which was originally a world title eliminator but later became an interim title fight.
Sadly for Filipino fighter Villanueva the change in status of the bout didn't do him any favours, in fact if anything it may have inspired an even better performance from the South African, with Tete putting on a dominant and one-sided performance.
Villanueva came to win, don't get us wrong, but from the opening seconds it was clear he was out matched with the Filipino being shut down offensively from very early on.
The slippery Tete managed to find a home for his jab early on and chose when to come forward and press the action, with the Filipino only have very rare moments of success, which were almost instwntly forgotten as Tete tagged him soon afterwards.
Villanueva's toughness served him well, but he was dropped in round 11, a flash knockdown, and never really looked capable of having a big final round to turn things around. Instead he seemed to settle for a 12 round decision loss, with cards of 119-108, twice, and 120-107.
If Omori wins tomorrow the signs are that his first defense will have to be against Tete whilst a loss for the Japanese fighter would see Tete being promoted to the status of full champion.
Today we had the second world title bout in as many days as long reigning WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19) [山中慎介] notched his 12th defense and stopped Carlos Carlson (22-2, 13) in 7 rounds, with a dominant but flawed display.
The challenger had been regarded as a no hoper by fans but came to the ring exuding some real confidence and that showed as he looked to press Yamanaka with an aggressive pressure style. Unfortunately for the challenger it was a style that Yamanaka had seen before and gave him real openings for his vaunted left hands. Those left hands landed with regularity during the first 3 minutes, but they never seemed like full blooded shots and they never really seemed to hurt the challenger.
It was more of the same, for the most part, in round 2, though Carlson did seem to be visibly hurt for the first time by a left hand, an also suffered a cut from one of those left hands. Although looking worse for wear Carlson did seem to get inside a few times, and neutralised the left hand of the champion every so often, but paid the price when he wasn't quick enough.
Carlson began to be visibly broken down in round 3 as Yamanaka moved out of first gear and hurt the Mexican several times, landing some really hurtful body shots that seemed to take the wind out of Carlson. It was a slow but progressive beat down from the champion who looked several levels above the challenger. Despite being battered Carlson showed grit and came out for round 4 with his now standard aggressive march, and for once he had some real notable success landing a right hand. It was his best round, but one that he again failed to win having taken several big lefts himself.
In Japan the WBC open scoring is used and unsurprisingly Yamanaka was leading on all 3 cards, up 40-36 on two of them and surprisingly 39-36 on the other, leaving some to wonder which judge needed to see an optician.
Yamanaka seemed to take the fact that Carlson had been awarded a round personally and dominated round 5, dropping Carlson twice in close succession. It seemed like Carlson was there for the taking but instead of close the show Yamanaka backed off. Carlson then showed solid recuperative powers as he not only got his senses back but went on to buckle Yamanaka with right hands, twice. It seemed as if the wild desperate swings were a danger for the champion who shouldn't have taken his foot off the gas, and suffered a small graze around his left eye as a result.
It seemed even the champion realised he had to take this more seriously and dropped Carlson again in round 6, before Carlson came back at him and again landed a big right hand that seemed to show there was still danger in the Mexican if Yamanaka was going to carry him. Thankfully in round 7 the champion had had enough and went for the finish, dropping Carlson early in the round and this time he jumped on his man, seeking the finish. A 5th knockdown, just moments later, forced the referee to wave off the bout and saved the game but totally out matched challenger.
As a huge favourite Yamanaka did what he had to, and stopped Carlson to put the expected cherry on the result, but the performance it's self left some questions and would have left some wondering if he's fading as a fighter, or if he just didn't take Carlson seriously. The wild right hands he took in round 5 did seem to wobble him and against a world class puncher he may well have been decked. His lack of urgency when he had Carlson hurt in round 5 was disappointing, and the power in his left hand looked less destructive than it had in the past. Again they are minor flaws with his performance, a performance that saw him end a 22 fight winning streak from Carlson by dropping the Mexican 5 times, but they are flaws that may need correcting if defense #13 is set to be a big one as some suspect.
For Carlson it's likely he will return to the lower leagues, racking up wins in the US and Mexico against relative no hopes as he had previous to this bout.
So far this year we've not seen many title changes but late on Friday we did see one title change, as 3-time American Olympian Rau'shee Warren (14-2-0-1, 4) suffered a shock loss to Kazakh pressure fighter Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1, 18), and claimed the WBA Bantamweight Super title.
The start of the fight was a nightmare for Zhakiyanov, who was dropped twice in the opening round giving Warren a 10-7 opening round. It seemed like Warren's speed and skills would be too much for the relatively basic Zhakiyanov. Amazingly though Warren failed to build on the good start as Zhakiyanov managed to regroup and have a solid second round, though, again, it was a round that Warren took.
From round 3 onwards the bout seemed to turn, with Zhakiyanov applying intense and breaking through the guard of Warren with regularity. The pressure seemed to have immediate effect and he was unlucky to not to have a KD scored in his favour late in the round.
Warren was again roughed up in rounds 4, 5 and 6 as Zhakiyanov continued to force the action and and really trouble Warren, who continually backed up and invited the pressure from the challenger. It was easy to forget the 10-7 first round and by the end of round 6 it was almost impossible to make a case for Warren being in the lead. Despite being in the lead ZZ seemed to be slowing down and in round 8 Warren began to take advantage of Zhakiyanov's slowing down and stood his ground in the opening minute. Despite the moments of success Warren failed to build on it and quickly let Zhakiyanov push him backwards.
Warren managed to have his moments in the final rounds, though began to look more and more tired with Zhakiyanov seemingly aware that he may need to have a huge finish to impress the judges. He was tired, as would be expected given the huge amount of work he had put in, but his desire continued to show through as he continued to apply the pressure.
With both men standing at the end of 12 rounds the bout went to the scorecards and given the amazing start for Warren it was clear the cards would be close, with Zhakiyanov needing to make up for the 10-7 opening round. The judges were split though thankfully they made the right decision with two of them favouring the Kazakh, who's desire and will to win earned him the victory on two of the cards.
Last September we saw Shinsuke Yamanaka (26-0-2, 18) [山中慎介] retain his WBC Bantamweight title with a narrow and controversial split Anselmo Moreno (36-5-1, 12). Today the two men had a rematch and there was no controversy about this one which had a very conclusive ending. A 7th round KO by Yamanaka, who scored his 11th defense of the title.
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)
This past weekend we all turned out attention to the US for a fight between the #1 and #2 Light Welterweights. It was billed as a special fight, and although no one expected a war, everyone expected something memorable. What we got was a bout that resembled a sparring session with Terence Crawford simply being too good for Viktor Postol in every single way.
Today, just a few days later, we had a war as Pungluang Sor Singyu (52-4, 35) [ผึ้งหลวง ส.สิงห์อยู่] battled under-rated Filipino Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12), in what was a thrilling WBO Bantamweight title fight. The Thai champion was looking to make the second defense of his title, whilst the unheralded Filipino was looking to make the most of his opportunity.
The fight started relatively evenly, and through 4 rounds there was little to separate the fighters. A judge could have had it 40-36 one way, or the other and no complaints would have been had. The two men each had their moments, and each could have impressed the judges with their particular style. For Pungluang it was as the pressure fighter attacking the body whilst Tapales was showing the better pure boxing and seemed to be landing the flashier head shots.
In round 5 the bout took a major shift with Pungluang having a break through with his body attack, sending Tapales down twice, with Tapales taking much of the count to get up. It was guts and bravery in the extreme from the Filipino who ended the round being beaten up and was very lucky the referee didn't wave the bout off. He looked spent and with another referee that would have been it.
Amazingly Tapales came out for round 6 and ended up turning the bout around in his favour hurting the Thai with a left hand before dropping him with a right hook. Although Pungluang got up from the shot he seemed to be in survivor mode and didn't seem to recover as the bell went.
Notably Pungluang didn't ever seem to fully recover, either physically or mentally, and his pressure style, with the body shots,never returned after the knockdown with the Thai preferring to try and counter punch the Filipino who was growing in confidence after the knockdown. Round 7, 8 and 9, seemed to see a hungry looking Tapales back up Pungluang, who only had select moments of success whilst the Filipino had more sustained and more notable work. It was a strange twist but it seemed like the effort to finish Tapales off at the end of round 5, and the subsequent knockdown in round 6, had left Pungluang short on confidence,
In round 10 we saw more of the same, but by now the work of Tapales was taking a growing physical effect on the Thai who seemed to try everything he could to get the juices going again. Everything he tried however failed and although he had a little bit of success in the round it seemed that his time as champion was whittling away
With in seconds of the 11th round starting Tapales had his next break through, dropping Pungluang, who failed to beat the count. The crowd silent, whilst the realisation that Tapales had become the new champion saw the Filipino and his team celebrate.
For Pungluang this loss was a painful one. He had come incredibly close to winning in round 5, he could likely taste his celebration meal, but to see Tapales pull through the torrid round seemed to mentally break the Thai who never looked the same fighter. For Tapales the heart he showed and the aggression, as well as the way he had coped with being messed around in Thailand was incredible and his will to win will make him an incredibly hard fighter to dethrone.
Dramatic fights are why we all watch boxing, and that's exactly what fans who tuned into NTV today got as we were treat to an intriguing WBC Bantamweight title fight between Shinsuke Yamanaka (25-0-2, 17) [山中 慎介] and Venezuelan challenger Liborio Solis (23-4-1, 10).
Solis, fighting in Japan for the third time, had talked the big talk before the fight. He had spoken about Yamanaka having a glass jaw and about how he was going to stop the champion, who was seeking his 10th defense of the title.
The talk of Solis wasn't backed up in the opening round as the visitor showed a lot of respect for Yamanaka and threw very little. The best punches of the round were both left hands from the champion and in all honesty the round wasn't a great opener. The pace however did pick up and in the opening stages of round Solis was down, although it looked like a slip-come-push the referee ruled it a legitimate knockdown. It secured Yamanaka a 10-8 round but seemed to fire up solis who let rip with some solid right hands and got into Yamanaka's face.
Although the “knockdown” in round 2 was a messy one there no doubting either of the knockdowns in round 3, with them both being scored by Solis who found a home for his powerful right hand. The first knockdown was a hard one with Yamanaka put onto the seat of his pants and when he recovered Solis smelled blood, forcing the second knockdown soon afterwards. It was a nightmare round for Yamanaka and one that gave credence to Solis's “glass jaw” comments. It has also secured the challenger a 10-7 round and evened up the cards.
Sadly for the challenger he was was unable to replicate his success in round 4 with a recovered Yamanaka showing respect to his rival and not choosing to slug it out. Instead Yamanaka boxed and move, finding opportunities to let his shots go and get out of range before the counters came back at him. It was a much needed comeback round and one that left him 37-36 up on all 3 of the cards, which were announced after the round.
Yamanaka's tactic of using speed and movement continued to be success in round 5 with Solis often throwing shots at the air from outside of range, whilst Yamanaka was connecting with consistent left hands. It wasn't until round 6 that Solis could mount any series assault, but even that was blunted by Yamanaka who countered well and did enough, especially late in the round, to claim it.
Although Yamanaka had waited late to win round 6 he started round 7 with bad intentions and cracked the challenger in the mid-section with a number of very solid left hands. It seemed to lead to the challenger slowing down with his dangerous right hands looking much less potent than they had in round 3. He was still looking to land them, but they were far less frequent than they had been earlier in the bout.
Solis, know he was slipping further behind, came out for round 8 swinging and he quickly looked to land bombs. They were however misfired and rarely came close to the champion who landed the best punch of the round then thwarted many of Solis' attacks by clinching. It seemed as if the fight was starting to wane on a bit, with both men showing a lot of respect to the other and neither really letting combinations go. Sadly for Solis inactivity wasn't an option and the open scoring had him 77-72 behind after 8 rounds.
The 9th saw another dubious call in favour of Yamanaka who was adjudged to have dropped Solis, though it hardly seemed a knockdown and another messy bundling over of the Venezuelan. The knockdown seem to get in cruise control somewhat and the round was a poor one with a lot of holding. It seemed the champion knew the bout was safe on the cards and he didn't need to take any risks, especially given the scare in round 3.
Despite the relatively dull 9th round Yamanaka did come out firing in round 10 and the pace suddenly warmed up with both landing solid bombs on each other. It was the best round for a while with Solis landing several hard right hands whilst Yamanaka's left hand was, as ever, consistently landing. The round seemed to set the stage for a couple of great championship rounds, though the reality was that those final two rounds intrigued more than excited, with the most memorable moment of round 11 being when the two men almost spilled through the ropes.
In round 12 it seemed that Yamanaka was looking for a finish, and opened up a very nasty cut on Solis's nose, but the challenger didn't seem to care about the cut and the two finished the round slugging it out. Solis knew he'd need a knockout, in fact he knew that after round 9, and his failure to get it essentially sealed his fate.
After the final bell the fighters embraced though both knew who the winner was, with the cards all reading 117-107 to Yamanaka.
There is now talk about Yamanaka unifying with IBF champion Lee Haskins, though we suspect he'll actually return to the ring in Summer for a rematch with either Suriyan Sor Rungvisai or Anselmo Moreno, in what will be a mandatory title defense for the hard hitting southpaw.
Whilst looking back the third round was a major scare for the champion the fact he had had to dig deep early on and recovered in the way he did was impressive and he deserves full credit for that. For Solis his effort, especially early, was commendable but in the end he did look like a man relying on landing a big right hand, with out setting it up properly. Had the challenger shown more nous there is a good chance this would have been much close than the cards suggest.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.