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Yamanaka not focused on matching Gushiken's record

Kyodo

WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka insists attempting to match a 37-year-old Japanese record will not affect his performance when he fights Mexican challenger Luis Nery next month.

Yamanaka, 34, will be aiming to tie former WBA light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken’s record of 13 consecutive world title defenses when he takes on his 22-year-old top-ranked opponent at Shimadzu Arena in Kyoto on Aug. 15.

“It is not something that is playing on my mind,” Yamanaka told Kyodo News in an interview. “If I win the next one then tying the record is something that will naturally come with it.

“But there are people looking forward to the fight, and it’s nice that what I’ve built up over time has caught attention.

“The record is not my objective. Hopefully I can win by knockout and give the fans something to cheer about. Maybe then I will feel I have gotten the job done.”

Yamanaka also believes the heat will not be an impediment on his path to glory.

“I don’t have any concerns. It is hot at this time of the year and it will take its toll, but it’s something I have experienced before and I will be able to handle it.”

The contest will be a confrontation between two southpaws. Yamanaka’s signature straight left has been dubbed “God’s Left” by the Japanese media.

“People say that because all I’ve got is my left,” Yamanaka said. “But I’ve found a way to keep winning, so maybe that’s why they don’t hesitate to call me that.”

Yamanaka has a 27-0-2 record including 19 knockouts, while Nery has won all 23 of his bouts, 17 by knockout.

Yamanaka, who won the title back in November 2011, said he has been fortunate not to have suffered injuries that could have affected the milestone he is chasing.

“Once you hit 30 and lose a chunk of time because of an injury, you will feel it. But I haven’t had that, and it’s been huge,” he said. “If I’m tired, I can’t just sleep it off like I did in my 20s. I look after my body and think about my diet.

“Looking after yourself is crucial. I have been doing it for six years and stayed a champion, which is something I am proud of.”

Asked if he takes pride in fighting at bantamweight, Yamanaka said, “I wanted the belt after watching Joichiro Tatsuyoshi’s fights when I was in junior high school. The weight class has produced a lot of famous champions in Japan.

“(Masahiko) “Fighting” Harada, Tatsuyoshi, Hozumi Hasegawa, there are a lot of champions who fought well for a long time.”