By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten Japanese lefty Shinsuke Yamanaka (19-0-2, 14 KOs), 118, impressively retained his WBC bantamweight belt as he very quickly finished Puerto Rican challenger Jose Nieves (22-3-2, 11 KOs), 117.5, with a single pulvertizing southpaw left to the button at 2:40 of the opening round on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. It was a contest of southpaws.
Yamanaka was a prohibitive favorite but we didn’t expect such a short affair since Nieves was said to be durable and skillful. But the champ’s aggression and a single left blasted out Nieves’ ambition to be newly crowned here, as he had predicted at the press conference. His dream lasted just 160 seconds.
Nieves, two years his senior at 32, kept circling from the outset to probe the champ’s fight plan. The first effective shot in the game was thrown by Nieves, who landed a good southpaw jab to the face of Yamanaka. The champ kept his cool and maintained the pressure to the challenger on the bicycle.
The taller Japanese, making his fourth defense, connected with sharp combinations to the retreating challenger. Yamanaka threw a very long and solid left that accurately caught Nieves and had him staggering to the ropes. Down he went. It was apparent that the Puerto Rican was so badly hurt to stand up and resume fighting positively. Referee Bruce McTavish, from the Philippines, coolly tolled the fatal ten against the loser who, however, protested against his stoppage. The crowd also claimed that they wished to see it longer, but the champ’s left, dubbed “God’s Left”, might have sent Nieves back to the canvas should he have been allowed to go on.
Yamanaka jubilantly said, “I thank for your people’s great support. I am happy to show what I have been training hard.”
The challenger looked crestfallen with such a quick defeat without showing anything. He said, “Yamanaka’s last shot was too fast to avert. I feel very sorry to lose so early.”
In the bantamweight category, Japan has had three world champs out of the four major organizations. They are: WBC Yamanaka, WBA Koki Kameda and WBO his younger brother Tomoki Kameda who lately wrested the belt in the Philippines. The victorious Yamanaka loudly said, “Let’s fight in a unification bout, Kameda.” It may be unlikely that such a unification bout between the compatriots will materialize so soon. It is said that Yamanaka, the quick victor, will appear again in Osaka in November—hopefully, against a name and game opposition.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions.
WBC supervisor: Mauricio Sulaiman