SAN DIEGO, August 14, 2017 – The world’s longest reigning world champion in boxing is someone most fans have never heard of, much less seen.
You have a rare opportunity to watch WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka in his 13th title defense against Luis Nery of Mexico on Tuesday. The fight will air in the United States on BeinSports – Espanol at 7 a.m. Eastern, 4 a.m. Pacific on Tuesday, with a replay at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT, and an evening repeat. (Yes, this is AM, not PM).
If you subscribe to a major satellite or cable provider, chances are good you’ve got BeinSports Espanol available. Check here for your local listings.
The undefeated Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19 KOs), age 34, is showing no sign of slowing down at a time when some of his peers have recently retired, including countrymen Takashi Miura and Takashi Uchiyama. Yamanaka faces an opponent a dozen years younger in Luis Nery of Tijuana, Mexico (23-0, 17 KOs). Nery is ranked among the top ten in the division, but no matter where he’s placed, this is a major step up and fighting on the champion’s home turf in Tokyo.
Yamanaka can tie the Japanese record for consecutive title defenses in any division with a win Tuesday. He’s heading for the all-time title defense record in the bantamweight division, which is 16 consecutive bouts currently held by Orlando Canizales from the 1990s.
Of the record, Yamanaka says, “I do not feel the pressure to pass Gushiken’s title defenses record. I’m just grateful for my opportunity to defend my crown against a great rival.” Yamanaka predicted a knockout win for himself to retain his title and extend the streak.
On paper, Yamanaka would appear to be an overwhelming favorite. He is ranked among the top ten pound for pound boxers in the world today, with his name alongside the likes of Alvarez, Golovkin, Ward, and Crawford. It’s a challenge for the smaller weight division athletes to get the attention they deserve. But with a critical mass of talent including Yamanaka, Zolani Tete, Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and countryman Naoya Inoue on the scene today, fans are waking up to the fun and excitement the smaller men bring to boxing.
Although undefeated with a solid knockout percentage, Nery has never faced an opponent with the pedigree of Yamanaka. He’s also never fought outside Mexico. The experience of fighting in Japan in front of an enthusiastic, partisan crowd could be overwhelming. What Nery has on his side is a sense of calmness in the ring, a good sign in a young and still developing talent.
“My physical condition seems better than ever,” said Nery at his recent media workout. “I could fight Yamanaka today. Each morning I run and in the afternoon I do my physical exercises. I feel very strong here in Japan. Your daily temperatures and humidity have made it easy for me to control my weight. I’m more and more motivated to win.”
Both fighters weighed in at the 118 pound limit. They are both southpaws. Yamanaka has a 2.5 inch height advantage, 5-foot-7.5 to Nery’s 5-foot-5, and a 1.5 inch reach advantage. But the significant advantage in the numbers is in rounds fought: Yamanaka has 202 rounds, Nery just 96 rounds.
As a role model, Nery should look to Panama’s Jezreel Corrales, who fought in Japan and defeated Uchiyama by second round knockout in April 2016. Uchiyama was the longest reigning champion at six years when Corrales took him down. Corrales repeated the victory last December, and Uchiyama announced his retirement two weeks ago.
Count on a thrilling, action packed fight from both men. Yamanaka sometimes wades into deep waters in his fights. He can be so intent on his offensive output, he leaves himself open. He has been knocked down three times in two of his last three fights, twice against Liborio Solis in March 2016, and four times in his career. Nery has suffered a single knockdown in his career in December to Raymond Tabugon of the Philippines, though Nery came back to score a fourth round TKO win.
Yamanaka has so far been fortunate to have a tough constitution. But as he gets older, he may not be able to count on his chin and his legs holding him up or getting him back off the canvas. With a younger man in front of him like Nery, Yamanaka could be in danger of wearing out, or growing old overnight as sometimes happens with veterans.
This bout has potential to be a Fight of the Year candidate, especially if Nery plays it smart and successfully pounces on any openings Yamanaka allows. Without a doubt, whoever loses is going out on his shield. So make sure the coffee is on and your alarm rings nice and early so you are in your seat for this tasty breakfast boxing treat. But set your DVR just in case.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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