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Yamanaka defends bantamweight title for 12th time, moves within win of matching Gushiken record

Veteran fighter triumphs with seventh-round TKO

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

As everyone had predicted, Carlos Carlson was no match for “God’s Left.”

Shinsuke Yamanaka mauled the Mexican challenger and retained his WBC bantamweight title with a seventh-round technical knockout victory at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Thursday night.

Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19 KOs) defended his title for the 12th consecutive time, breaking a tie with ex-WBA super featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama for the second-most title defenses by a Japanese boxer. The 34-year-old is now one win away from equaling former WBA light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken’s national record.

“I’ve repeatedly said this, but I’m not dwelling on the record,” Yamanaka said after the bout. “I’d just be pleased if my fans have fun with my fights.”

Yamanaka controlled the pace from the beginning and sent Carlson to the canvas five times, all of the knockdowns coming in the fifth round or later. But Carlson was tough and kept landing back on his feet. He desperately delivered some blows on Yamanaka in the fifth round, but the champion regrouped, relying on his effective jab.

Referee Ian John Lewis stopped the fight 57 seconds into the seventh round when Yamanaka knocked Carlson down for the second time in the frame.

It might have taken a little longer for Yamanaka to end the match than people had expected. In fact, Yamanaka said that he did some things he would have to reflect on while he displayed some positive things.

“I wasn’t really able to put the full strength on my blows early on,” Yamanaka said. “But I made adjustments to it as the fight wore on.”

Yamanaka added that he need to do better in clinching Carlson (22-2-2) when the challenger came at him aggressively.

Yamanaka’s trainer Shin Yamato praised his boxer for not letting Carlson seize the momentum when he landed some punches by smartly changing his game plan in the middle of the fight.

“‘(Carlson) was tough, came back up every time he took knockdowns, and attacked on (Yamanaka),” Yamato said. “But (Yamanaka) changed his boxing and ended up beating him. He wouldn’t let him have the pace. It’s really incredible that he switched his style of fighting during the fight.”

One of the biggest changes Yamanaka made during the fight was starting to use his right fist more frequently, not his signature, devastating left.

“My corner told me to go more with my right, so I did it,” Yamanaka recalled. “And it led to the finish (with my left). In the seventh round, my right was good from the beginning, and when I use my right better, it usually leads me to land my left.”

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