With less than 10 days left until a fight in which he’ll try to avenge the only loss of his professional career, Shinsuke Yamanaka didn’t show any signs of despair, only confidence.

Yamanaka, who will face Luis Nery (25-0, 19 knockouts) in a March 1 rematch at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, insisted his training has gone extremely well, maybe even better than previously during his career.

“Ever since I’ve declared I would continue to box, I’ve only been thinking of getting revenge against Nery,” said Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19 KOs), whose unbeaten record came to an end via a fourth-round TKO against the Mexican last August in Kyoto, during Tuesday’s practice at the Teiken Gym.

Conventional wisdom says athletes get better following losses more than wins because they learn more. Ex-WBC bantamweight champion Yamanaka, his trainers and gym officials said that sole, but devastating defeat has led to improvement from the 35-year-old fighter, who is known as “God’s Left” for his signature finishing blow.

“Previously, he’d emphasize improving his strengths,” said former WBC super lightweight champion Tsuyoshi Hamada, who currently serves as the Teiken Promotions president. “But now he’s had things he needed to reflect on (from the first fight against Nery). He’s shown a different motivation than in his previous fights. I think Yamanaka might show us some extra power.”

For the first time in almost seven years, Yamanaka will compete out of the blue corner as the challenger in his upcoming bout.

Although he said that he has always fought with a challenger’s spirit even while defending his belt 12 consecutive times, Yamanaka feels he doesn’t have to focus on anything other than avenging the loss while carrying less pressure on his shoulders.

“So I’ve been practicing pretty comfortably,” the Shiga Prefecture native said.

But Yamanaka does not think he can get his wish so easily. “God’s Left” expects a tough fight against Nery, who is much younger at age 23 and has an aggressive style of boxing.

“I would like to showcase what I’ve practiced,” said Yamanaka, who had a two-round sparring session with the WBC’s 12th-ranked boxer Michael Dasmarinas of the Philippines on Tuesday. “And hopefully, I’ll be the winner and get off the ring with a smile, not in tears.”

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