It has been a fantastic career for Shinsuke Yamanaka 25-0-2(17KO’s), culminating in seeing himself into the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters with The Ring Magazine.
But at 33-years old that illustrious ranking may well be dropping very soon.
Yamanaka has held the WBC Bantamweight title since 2011, but came away as a very fortunate victor last September when he won via split decision against Anselmo Moreno 36-4-1(12KO’s).
If the former WBA Bantamweight champion owned the same power that his Japanese counterpart has then one would imagine that the Panama fighter would have forced a stoppage considering the vast amount of punches landed flush on Yamanaka’s chin.
On that night, Moreno was fresh off a year lay-off following the loss of his WBA crown. Juan Carlos Payano was marginally ahead when the fight was called to a halt in round 6 through a clash of heads – declaring Payano as the new WBA ruler.
Yamanaka’s poor performance was enough however in his home country – where they fight again on Friday night – to hand Moreno his 4th career loss – the other two coming against Abner Mares (L UD 12) – at Super Bantam – and Richard Molina (L SD 4) in just his 8th pro fight – a defeat he later avenged twice (TKO 9 & UD 10). His only draw came in fight number 6.
But while Yamanaka performed poorly against Moreno – being caught far too open by the southpaw left hand – he also struggled defensively early on in his most recent contest. The far shorter Liborio Solis was outboxed for much of the contest, but dropped Yamanaka twice in the third round.
It seems that victories over Vic Darchinyan (UD 12), Alberto Guevara (KO 9) and Stephane Jamoye (TKO 9) are getting further and further behind the champion, and in spite of a longer career, it may be Moreno who is feeling the fresher when they meet in Osaka.
On the contrary, Yamanaka may have needed his last two performances to wake himself up, after years of domination.
He has now seen exactly what Moreno is capable of, and may put right the wrongs of last year and score a dominant win, maybe even a stoppage later on.
But the feeling is that prior to a year ago, Yamanaka had not been tested at the highest level.
He has never fought outside of Japan, and in spite of some notable names on his resume, there are more than a few that may have brought an end to Yamanaka’s reign.
(Yamanaka and Moreno’s first fight via wowmanzana YouTube):
Moreno may be on the wrong end of another bad decision, but the feeling is that justice will prevail as Moreno becomes a two-time world champion on the scorecards.
Recently crowned WBC Super Bantamweight world champion Hugo Ruiz 36-3(32KO’s) will also defend on his opponents’ turf as he faces Hozumi Hasegawa 35-5(15KO’s)
A potential fight of the year candidate between two offensively dangerous but highly vulnerable operators.
Hasegawa was a long time holder of the WBC Bantamweight title, defeating the likes of Veeraphol Sahaprom (UD 12 & TKO 9), Simpiwe Vetyeka (UD 12) and Vusi Malinga (TKO 1). But that and a brief reign as WBC Featherweight champion all came before the start of 2011.
He has two early career defeats to his name as well as stoppage loses to Fernando Montiel (L TKO 4), Jhonny Gonzalez (L TKO 4) and most recently Kiko Martinez (L TKO 7).
And like Yamanaka in the main event, Hasegawa has never fought outside of Japan, but that has not stopped three world class punchers taking him out inside the championship distance.
Hasegawa remains dangerous at 35-years old, but his erratic style leaves him heavily vulnerable against hard hitting opposition.
Ruiz’s 82% knockout ratio shows how hard he hits, but a 2015 loss in 4 rounds to Julio Ceja put on display how little he uses his height and reach advantages – he stands at an above average 5’9” with a 69½” reach.
Ruiz was in control before he opted to hook with a hooker, resulting in a heavy knockdown before he was halted moments later.
The rematch in February this year didn’t escape the opening round. Ruiz went to work early and this time got the job done, dropping Ceja heavily before unleashing hell until the referee had seen enough.
Last time the Mexican came to Japan, he was beaten on a split decision by Koki Kameda.
But that 2012 version of the former WBC and WBA Bantamweight champion was far better than this current version of Hasegawa.
The contest will live long in the memory for those who watch it, but Ruiz will come out victorious with a notable knockout win. After several eye-catching exchanges and knockdowns, the end will come between rounds 5-7.
(Image source and credit: Lockerdome.com)
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