The first of two world title fights today at the Saitama Super Arena saw the WBC Bantamweight title up for grabs, as "interim" champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上 拓真] challenged "regular" champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12), in a mouth watering clash of unbeaten Bantamweights.
The fight started slowly, with both men trying to figure the other out, it was a lot of posturing, measuring and feinting, and not much quality from either seemed to land. It was one where the judges could have gone either way, with Oubaali throwing more, but not really connecting, and arguably the most eye catching single with an Inoue right hand. The pace from Oubaali slowly increased towards the end of round 2, when he seemed hurt Inoue, and Oubaali's power showed again in round 3, as he visibly rocked the Japanese fighter, who had to move away to regain his composure. The power of the French-Moroccan continued to be a different maker, and in round 4 Inoue was caught by a huge counter on the side of the face that sent him to the seat of his pants.
After 4 rounds it was clear that Oubaali was winning, with the open scoring favouring the champion 38-37, 39-36 and 40-36.
The middle rounds saw Inoue seemingly bouncing back with some success but that wasn't reflected in the eyes of the judges, who preferred the heavier shots of Oubaali over the more consistent of Inoue. It wasn't that it was wrong to score that way, but it did feel a touch hard that, after 8 rounds, one judge had it 80-71 whilst another had it 79-72, whilst the third had it 77-74. Really not reflecting the competitive nature of the fight, which had been hotly contested. Oubaali typically looked the boss, but he had missed a lot, and was clearly slowing down in the 7th and 8th round. Just unfortunately for Inoue his low output style, did little to impress the judges.
Knowing he was a long way behind Inoue finally put his foot on the gas in the final 4 rounds, amping up his work and trying to break down the champion. This was what he had needed to do earlier, rather than waiting so late, and it really did look like a different fight. Oubaali was still live, with enough energy in the tank to fight back, but it was a completely different game plan from Inoue.
With time ticking down Inoue put it all on the line in the final round and, for the first time, really hurt Oubaali, but the champion showed his heart and toughness to see out some really tough moments. It seemed like he had done enough, given the open scoring after round 8, but it felt like the late rally of Inoue had really done something to make the bout look as competitive as it felt.
In the end however the scores were read out as 120-107, 117-110 and 115-112. With only the final really being reflective of what happened. The 120-107 is one of the legitimate worst cards we've seen this year and Alejandro Rochin should never be allowed near a scorecard in his life. The guy simply hasn't got a clue. A win for Oubaali doesn't get an any disagreement from us, but a shut out? No Rochin needs shutting out off the sport.
Interestingly this goes down as the first loss by any of the fighting Inoue trio.
The Bantamweight division has been dominated over the last 12 months by the WBSS, and the destruction left by Naoya Inoue. Outside the WBSS however we've seen the WBC Bantamweight picture become a mess, with Takuma Inoue claiming the interim title, Luis Nery being in the mix and the crowning of Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12) as the champion.
Today Oubaali made his first defense of the the title, and did so in easy and dominant fashion, stopping over-matched Filipino challenger Arthur Villanueva (32-4-1, 18) in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
From the opening seconds Oubaali looked in a different class to Villanueva, who looked like a man who wasn't sure he deserved to be in the ring with the champion. The opening round was all Oubaali, even though he was only fighting in first gear he looked in a class of his own. From there on Oubaali chipped away at the Filipino, breaking him down with clean, accurate shots in rounds 2 and 3. There was very, very little coming back from Villanueva, who did enough to look like he was trying, but not enough to get Oubaali's respect.
By the end of round 3 Oubaali was starting to beat up Villanueva who realised he had to fight back. Sadly for Villanueva fighting back lead to him being tagged cleaner, and in round 4 the Filipino was rocked again.The following round the challenger began to look scared once again whilst Oubaali changed tactics. The champion had gone from landing combinations to looking for more hurtful single shots, trying to actually hurt the challenger with every shot. Those shots were doing damage and by the end of the right the challenge's right eye was nearly closed.
In round 6 the continued beating resumes, with Oubaali scoring a knockdown after a combination. It wasn't a combination of hard shots, but they were clean and the Filipino took a knee. Following that Oubaali went for the kill, with Villanueva managing to do just enough to convince the referee not to step in, but he was now a beaten man.
Knowing that he was out classed, out boxed, out punched and being dominated Villanueva took the decision to retire to retire between rounds 6 and 7, making a wise choice.
Whilst this was an unexpected opportunity for Villanueva it was also an undeserved one, and it's hard to see him getting any more opportunities at world level. As for Oubaali he has an interesting future. His next defense if expected to come against Takuma Inoue, though he will also have eyes on the winner of the WBSS, which will be either Naoya Inoue or Nonito Donaire, and will also have the controversial Luis Nery as possible future foe. This was an easy first defense, but hopefully we'll find out how good Oubaali really is in the near future.
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)
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.
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)
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)
When a fighter fights at home they do tend to get the rub of the green. It's a world wide issue and one that has seen some countries given a harder time than others. We've seen countries like Germany, Thailand, Britain and Argentina in particular come under heavy criticism for home fighters getting the decision in very close bouts. Today it was the turn of Japan as local star Shinsuke Yamanaka (24-0-2, 17) got the rub of the green against Anselmo Moreno (35-4-1, 12) in a WBC Bantamweight title defense for Yamanaka.
Early on the bout was a battle of high level boxing with both men trying to establish their jabs. The better shots were from the challenger who seemed to land at a notably higher rate though it was during these early stages that Yamanaka was landing the heavier shots. For 4 rounds the two men were essentially cancelling each other out with high level boxing and trading of jabs.
The WBC rules, that were in effect, had the bout edge to Yamanaka after 4 rounds with the champion leading by a score of 39-37 on two of the cards whilst the third had the bout even. At this point it was relatively difficult to argue either way with the bout being incredibly close up to that point, though perhaps having 10-10 rounds would have reflected things a little bit more accurately than the typical 10-9 rounds.
The open scoring seemed to spur on Moreno who came on strong in round 5 as the bout picked up pace. It was another highly competitive round but one that seemed to be in Moreno's favour with the slipper Panamanian managing to avoid the bigger shots from Yamanaka whilst landing his left hand. The round saw both men change their tactic with Yamanaka getting on the move whilst Moreno became more aggressive. The success in round 5 was built on by Moreno who seemed to clearly with round 6 with the same tactic of pushing Yamanaka back and forcing the action in what was another good round for the challenger.
The challengers success was halted in round 7 as Yamanaka began to actually land his much vaunted left hand. It was another round that could have gone either way, with Moreno landing plenty of shots himself, but it seemed like Yamanaka could have made enough of a case to get, especially at home. Despite the respite of some success in round 7 Yamanaka really struggled in round 8 and showed some clear frustration, at one point pushing Moreno down. It was clear that whilst a lot of the action was close it was Moreno who was in the ascendency and was managing to get into the head of the local fighter.
The scorecards after 8 rounds were again read out and this time they had changed notably with Moreno leading on one cards, 77-75, and level on the other two, with a score of 76-76.
Moreno's success continued in round 9, his most dominant round of the fight. The challenger rocked Yamanaka and seemed to be looking for the finish before he got caught by a left hand and started to show more respect to the still dangerous champion. Despite Yamanaka earning Moreno's respect it was a very clear round for the challenger, who seemed to have gone into the lead on all 3 cards.
Yamanaka, knowing he was down, went out for round 10 with the intention of getting a KO and he was very left hand happy, almost “spamming” the punch. It was a successful tactic for the champion who seemed to hurt Moreno for the first time in the fight. The challenger, realising the danger that was still in front of him, was happy to hold and see out the storm. The same storm however came again in round 11 as Yamanaka continued to hunt the KO, and almost got dropped himself during a wild exchange that saw his knees buckle but his hands and ass stay off the canvas, had a knockdown been scored that would likely have swung a 10-9 Yamanaka round to a 10-8 Moreno round and made the bout Moreno's almost by default.
With Yamanaka having seemingly got his nose in the lead on two of the scorecards it was all to play for in round 12. The round was a tricky one with both men looking tired though it seemed that Yamanaka, who had put a lot into the previous 6 minutes, was the more tired and it seemed that Moreno just managed to take the round, which was mired in clinches.
Looking at the open scoring from round 8 it seemed that the cards were likely to be declared a majority draw with with 114-114, 114-114 and 116-112. The judges however saw something different and seemingly gave Yamanaka the all important 12th round to give him a split decision with scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 113-115, all from American judges.
The decision was met with some anger online and Chemito also seemed to feel disgusted with the result. Given the result we wouldn't be shocked to hear talk of a rematch, possibly in 2016, though we could see Moreno declining the fight if it was to be held in Japan again.
For Moreno this is a second set back, and one that will hurt just as bad as his previous loss, a controversial technical decision to Juan Carlos Payano. For Yamanaka it was a headache and easily the toughest bout of his career. The next step for both will be interesting and could either see a rematch, to “right the wrong”, it could see both men go their own way, with a move to Super Bantamweight for Yamanaka being one that seems to make sense even if it's not been spoken about too much recently.
Over the last 12 months or so we've seen the Bantamweight division heat up and go from a division that few cared about to a division that is really looking like one of the strongest in the sport. Although deep it does have one stand out fighter, a fighter who perhaps belongs on the verges of the mythical pound-for-pound lists. That standout fighter is WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (23-0-2, 17) who recorded the 7th defence of his title earlier today and showed off his much vaunted and thoroughly destructive power once again.
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.
We love mid-week fights, especially when they are significant fights between well matched fighters each looking to prove themselves and move on to bigger things in their careers. We had one such bout this earlier today when WBC Bantamweight king Shinsuke Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16) successfully defended his belt against mandatory challenger Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (37-6-1, 16), a former WBC Super Flyweight champion.
Stylistically this always looked like an interesting fight. Yamanaka is a born puncher, dubbed the “God of Left” due to his ferocious and missile like left hand which carries insane power for a Bantamweight. Suriyan is however your fearless pressure fighter, a Thai tough guy who keeps coming and never knows when he is beaten. In some ways it looked like the irresistible force against the immovable object.
Early on it was certainly Suriyan who came out with a winners mentality, despite once being completely written off by the bookies who were taking bets on the fight. Suriyan managed to fight the early rounds with a lot of energy, a hyper-aggressive mentality and a game plan that was based around landing his shots, cutting the distance and neutralising the much vaunted straight left of Yamanaka. It was a game plan that that served the challenger very well as he took several of the early rounds and made Yamanaka struggle in some ways, although the champion never really look all that uncomfortable despite not shining himself. After 4 rounds the open scoring showed appreciation for Suriyan's work with the scorecards reading 38-38, 38-38 and 39-37, to Suriyan.
Unfortunately for Suriyan he early work, whilst good enough to win some of the rounds, did come at a cost in some ways. Notably he was using a lot of energy to get inside and smother the work of Yamanaka, he was also forced to feel the power of the champion who landed some stunning shots at the end of round 2 that may have seen the Japanese fighter steal the round.
In round 5 we started to see Yamanaka beginning to settle a bit more and although Suriyan had notable success with his own right hand the shots just bounced off the champion who returned the shots with interest towards the end of the round. By now Yamanaka was starting to find his groove, he had seen what Suriyan was bringing to the fight and began to loosen up himself, this resulted in Yamanaka establishing in the lead by the time open scoring kicked in again after round 8. What had turned the fight in the favour of the Japanese fighter was a pair of 10-8 rounds courtesy of a late knockdown in both rounds 7 and 8. The knockdowns had proven that Yamanaka had serious power in his shots though they also proved that Suriyan had guts and heart as he got up to continue the fight with no real sign of distress.
The knockdowns hadn't extinguished the fire from the Thai but they had reversed the scorecards which read 78-72, 77-73 and 76-74 after 8 rounds.
The cards became even wider in round 9 as Suriyan was first deducted a point for some rough house moves before being put down for a third time, this resulted in a 10-7 round for the Japanese fighter who now knew he just had to remain upright to retain his title. He also know however that he had the power to hurt Suriyan, if and when an opportunity to unload arose. The Thai on the other hand knew he now needed a KO to win.
With the fight finished on he scorecards Yamanaka became more cautious, fighting at a distance and forcing Suriyan to work harder to get close to him. This gave us a chance to see Yamanaka using his often neglected boxing skills to win round 's 10 and 11 and it seemed clear he was happy to just take the decision win rather than hunt a stoppage. As for Suriyan he hunted the KO, at least in round 12 as he went all out, almost clocking referee Lawrence Cole in the process after being given a warning for not stopping when told to break. At the end however it was difficult to give Suriyan the round as he continue to struggle cutting the distance off against the taller, stronger Yamanaka.
By the time we got the final scores they were relatively meaningless with the judges all delivering clear cut scores of 116-108, 115-109 and 114-110, none of which really told the tale of the fight which was a tough one for Yamanaka that was made to look easy as a result of the knockdowns.
After the fight Yamanaka stated he wanted a unification bout next so we're looking forward to that though the bout did see Yamanaka's 5 fight stoppage streak come to an end despite the fact the he made his 7th title defense. As for Suriyan this loss ends a 17 fight winning streak dating back to his WBC Super Flyweight title defeat to Yota Sato last time he fought in Japan. Strangely Suriyan is now 0-4-1 in the road whilst sitting at 37-2 whilst fighting in Thailand.
At 32 years old we understand Yamanaka's dreams of a unification bout, regardless of which champion it comes against. He didn't look at his best here but he still looked head and shoulders above many in the division and Suriyan would have given any Bantamweight nightmares on this performance. As for the 25 year old Suriyan, his time will come again and we wouldn't bet against him winning a world title at Bantamweight one day in the future, especially with a performance like this against one of the sports hardest punchers, p4p, in the sport today.
(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.