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)