By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten Japanese southpaw, WBC bantamweight champ Shinsuke Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15 KOs), 118, impressively retained his belt as he sent Mexican footworker Alberto Guevara (18-2, 6 KOs), 117.5, sprawling to the deck twice in the eighth and finally dropped him again with a vicious left for the count at 0:25 into the ninth round on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan. Yamanaka, making his fifth defense, thus registered latest four defenses within the distance to his credit. His initial defense was scored by a unanimous decision over Vic Darchinyan in April of the previous year.
It was a nearly lopsided affair before the trick happened as tallied 79-71 by all the judges: Burt Clements, Dave Moretti and David Sutherland (all from US). The referee was Hector Afu (Panama) who controlled the fast-moving bantams very well.
Guevara, 23, had suffered only a setback by Leo Santa Cruz in a bid for the IBF 118-pound belt in December of the previous year, when he went the distance, withstanding the busy-punching champ’s onslaught with his defensive skills. But Yamanaka patiently maintained the pressure and finally caught the Fancy Dan with his pulverizing lefts.
The eighth saw Yamanaka throw a long southpaw left that seemingly touched the left side of the head rather than accurately hit the target like Mike Tyson barely caught Bruce Seldon with a vicious right to the side of the forehead. Guevara fell like Seldon. Probably the shot produced a light concussion of the brain. The Mexican forfeited his previously effective footwork and barely averted the champ’s accelerated attack, and hit the deck again with the champ’s combination. The bell sounded and Guevara had a narrow escape despite a couple of visits to the deck.
Yamanaka’s southpaw left was the haymaker midway in round nine, when he landed a long and powerful left to the retreating challenger. It had Guevara staggering to the ropes and badly down to the canvas. He obviously seemed unable to beat the count due to his physical and mental damage he had absorbed in a Tom-and-Jerry game. The ref tolled a fatal ten over the still fallen loser.
Yamanaka, 30, jubilantly said, “I kept stalking the fast-moving Guevara patiently. As he gradually became slowing down, I could connect with my solid left hand. I believe I’m the strongest bantamweight champion in the world, and wish to prove it before fight fans.”
In Japan we have no less than three champs in the 118-pound category—Yamanaka, WBA titlist Koki Kameda and WBO ruler Tomoki Kameda. Will it be possible to see a unification bout of the compatriots?
Unbeaten WBA super champ in the light-fly category, Roman Gonzalez (37-0, 31 KOs), 113, from Nicaragua, exploded his powerful punches and lopsidedly battered world-rated Mexican Oscar Blanquet (32-7-1, 23 KOs), 113, en route to a well-received stoppage at 0:27 into the second session in a scheduled ten. People watched Chocolatito’s superior power and precision with which he overwhelmed the Mexican from the outset. Gonzalez floored the game but less skillful opponent with a solid combination in the first round, and his follow-up in the next session prompted the referee Fukuchi to wisely call a halt.
Formerly two-division champ, Japan-based Venezuelan Jorge Linares (35-3, 23 KOs), 136, displayed a beautiful one-punch demolition of Francisco Contreras (21-4, 16 KOs), 135.75, Dominican Republic, at 3:08 of the opening session in a scheduled ten. Linares looked patient against the aggressive opponent, covering up well and looking for openings to score an effective counter. It landed at the button of the taller rival, who fell prone for the full count. Linares had been scheduled to have a shot at the WBA lightweight belt against Richard Abril of Cuba, who suffered a leg injury to cancel his defense here in Japan. Contreras was a late substitute for Abril, but he fought very aggressively from the start before going to the dreamland.
The first ten-rounder witnessed former two-time world champ Takahiro Ao (25-3-1, 12 KOs), 137, score a fine knockout over Mexican Edgar Lomeli (14-4-2, 8 KOs), 136.5, by badly dropping him twice with a southpaw left at first and then with a vicious right hook at 3:03 of the first round.
WBC supervisor: Frank Quill from Australia.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.