Yamanaka romps to fourth title defense


WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka made this one look so easy, he had to apologize to fans afterwards for them not getting their money’s worth.

Yamanaka stunned Jose Nieves of Puerto Rico with a flurry of punches before sending the eighth-ranked challenger crashing to the canvas in the first round with a lightning quick left to successfully defend the crown for the fourth time on Monday night.

Almost immediately after the opening bell, Nieves looked out of his element. The Japanese champion, who has an incredible 74 percent knockout rate, taunted the challenger with flashes of his left before closing the gap and unleashing the knockout blow at Ota Gymnasium.

The referee waved the fight over after 2 minutes, 40 seconds as Nieves sat huddled in a corner against the ropes pressing his glove against the right eye that had been hit with “God’s Left,” aptly named by Yamanaka’s adoring fans.

Yamanaka, who beat former champions in his first three title bouts, improved to 19-0 (14 KOs) with two draws.

“To be honest, I really wanted to fight a little longer. I know you fans wanted to see more as well. I’m sorry it ended so quickly, but that’s how boxing goes sometimes,” said Yamanaka.

Looking on from the crowd was newly crowned WBO bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda, the youngest of the three Kameda brothers. Koki, the eldest brother, is the WBA bantamweight champion. Yamanaka did not mince words when asked afterwards about a possible world unification bout with one of the two.

“To determine who is the strongest we should have a unification bout; I want to show that I am the strongest. (Tomoki) Kameda-kun, let’s give the Japanese fans what they want,” he said, drawing applause from the crowd.

Nieves, who was making his first challenge at a world title, said, “I am really disappointed. I’m not sure what to think since I couldn’t get the title. I didn’t see that last punch coming.”

Earlier, WBC flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi beat Oscar Blanquet of Mexico in a unanimous decision to successfully defend his first title in the weight class. Yaegashi improved to 18-3 (9 KOs).

Blanquet was running scared for most of the bout, often complaining for clean hits landed by Yaegashi and antagonizing the champion with roughhouse tactics.

Yaegashi stunned him with a hard left uppercut at the end of the eighth round, sending his Mexican opponent staggering back for a standing eight count. The champion finished off the 12-rounder with a clear victory on the judges’ scorecards.