Today he was facing off against the unbeaten Diego Ricardo Santillan (23-1, 15), a man who had come to Japan with a confident attitude though also some arrogance. Although he was unbeaten he had never faced a foe even nearing the world level and worst of all he had seemingly not done his research n the champion, not even knowing that Yamanaka's left hand was dubbed "God's Left" due to it's power. Instead Santillan had said that the only "hand of God" was that of soccer player Diego Maradonna, referring to a controversial goal of Maradonna's against England in a world cup back in the 1980's.
Although Yamanka's southpaw straight left hand is his danger punch he actually showed some restraint today as he made the most of his often under utilised jab, pecking away at Santillan with the lead hand from the opening round. To his credit Santillan tried to fight back but it seemed obvious from the first 3 minutes that these two were in completely different leagues in terms of skills and power.
Although the jabs were the key to a lot of Yamanaka's success it was still the left hand that was the danger punch of the champion and having felt it's power early on the challenger seemed to think it wise to not fight fire with fire. Unfortunately for Santillan he lacked the ability to come forward and push the action with any type of efficiency, instead he was left chasing or forced to eat one of Yamanaka's incredibly accurate shots that rarely seemed to miss. Those shots really began to take their toll in round 5 as Santillan began to bust up the challenger's face.
With blood coming from Santillan and Yamanaka looking completely in charge it was little wonder that Yamanaka's corner seemed happier to wipe his foes's blood from their man gloves than offer much in terms of advice. It was clear however that Yamanaka merely had to continue doing what he was doing. And that's what he did.
In round 6 the continued success of Yamanaka with his 1-2's, his sharp jab and his counter straight, were all it took to further control the fight with a monster left hand putting the challenger down onto the seat of his pants. Were it not for the toughness and game Latino spirit that would likely have been the end of the fight. Instead Santillan did all he could to see out the round, which included a very deliberate spitting out of the gum shield.
The stalling tactics did little for the challenger who managed to make it to round 7 but failed to survive it. Instead he was left on his backside after a thunderbolt left caught him bang on the chin, sending him to the canvas in eye catching fashion. That was it, the fight was over and Yamanaka's "God Left" was again responsible for the demis of another challenger.
After the fight the champion stated he wanted to fight in a bigger bout next time around. Whilst we all hope he faces a notable name it does seem like he'll be forced to wait whilst others play games around him. We know that a bout with Tomoki Kameda is attractive for fans but politics makes that unlikely, the IBF champion is currently injured, and a bout with Juan Carlos Payano is unlikely with Payano rumoured to be fighting with Ryo Matsumoto. There are still some attractive options out there but unification would likely have been what Yamanaka would have been wanting for his next bout.