• Kyodo

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Shinsuke Yamanaka won a split decision against Anselmo Moreno of Panama to successfully defend his WBC bantamweight title for the ninth time on Tuesday.

Yamanaka, who beat Diego Santillan of Argentina in his last title defense in April, struggled to find an effective attack against the defensive Moreno at Tokyo’s Ota City General Gymnasium.

But the 32-year-old fought aggressively in the final rounds to earn points and won it 115-113, 115-113, 113-115 on the judges’ scorecards.

“It was a tough fight,” Yamanaka said. “I felt I could go all the way after the fourth round. Moreno upped his tempo at the halfway mark and that made things a little difficult.

“I wasn’t landing any good punches, but I think my spirit carried me to victory. For the time being I am relieved to win.”

Yamanaka improved to 24-0-2 (17 knockouts).

The 30-year-old Moreno, who defended his WBA title 12 times between 2008 and 2014, fell to 35-4-1 (12 KOs).

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