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Unbeaten Yamanaka outpoints Solis to retain world bantamweight title

Kyodo

Shinsuke Yamanaka escaped a wild WBC world bantamweight title fight against Venezuelan Liborio Solis on Friday in Kyoto, extending his unbeaten streak to 27 fights with a unanimous decision.

The 33-year-old southpaw from nearby Konan, Shiga Prefecture, survived two knockdowns to take the win 117-107 on all three judge’s scorecards.

“I was down twice and couldn’t show you my best and I’m sorry,” Yamanaka, who made his 10th title defense, told the crowd after the fight.

“I didn’t dwell on the knockdowns and began to use my footwork from midway through to display my boxing.”

The bout was fast-paced from the outset with both fighters on the attack from the opening bell, but it was Solis who got the better of the early rounds.

The Venezuelan’s lunging forays were regularly catching Yamanaka, and early in the third round the Japanese fighter found himself on his back after being struck with a thunderbolt of a straight right.

Solis (23-4) immediately looked to capitalize, wildly chasing Yamanaka for the final two minutes of the round, and with just 20 seconds remaining he landed a right counterpunch that sent Yamanaka down again.

Yamanaka (25-0-2) eventually solved Solis, managing to avoid his right-hand bomb while catching his opponent on his many attacks. By the sixth round, the Japanese was on top, but still had to overcome the two early knockdowns in the eyes of the judges, which he did, ending the fight clearly on top of the Venezuelan who was bleeding heavily from a deep cut on the bridge of his nose.

On the undercard Yu Kimura lost his WBC world light flyweight title, going down to Mexico’s Ganigan Lopez on a majority decision (119-109, 118-110, 114-114). The 34-year-old southpaw from Mexico City showed his quality in sending Kimura to his third-career loss.

“Maybe I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the first defense,” said Kimura.

“I couldn’t fight with my preferred space and couldn’t reclaim the initiative. I’ll take time to think about my future.”