The two best Bantamweights in the world were in action this morning across the globe in Osaka, Japan.
Shinsuke Yamanaka (26-0-2, 18 KOs) reclaimed his WBC bantamweight title after trading five knockdowns with Anselmo Moreno (36-5-1, 12 KO) in a rematch of their oft-debated first encounter last year.
Yamanaka left no room for debate this time with a Round 7 TKO of Moreno. Moreno is a crafty southpaw who had yet to be soundly defeated at 118 pounds in over 10 years.
The 31-year-old Panamanian opened the first round with venom, laying into Yamanaka. Stinging right hooks and sharp left hands repeatedly lifted the Japanese’s head from his shoulders.
Then, with less than 30 seconds to go in Round 1, a left hand from Yamanaka sent Moreno reeling to the canvas. After a lackadaisical second frame, the real action was underway in Round 3.
The two traded blow after blow. Where Moreno normally fences with his rangy jab, he was uncorking southpaw right hooks into his man.
And it was that right hook from Moreno that sent Yamanaka on his rear end in the fourth round. When the defending champion arose, he was met with a winging left hook that sent him stumbling.
The WBC’s open scoring revealed that Moreno was up on two of three scorecards after this.
Round 5 was another to remember. The action swelled. Yamanaka baited a more feverish Moreno than ever seen before into eating left hands while more perfectly-placed right hooks from the challenger left the Japanese stumbling to maintain his balance yet again.
Leading up to this bout, Moreno made it very clear this would be his last fight at 118 pounds. He was obviously looking to leave the division with a bang, turning in his most exciting performance ever.
But it came at a price.
Moreno was visibly slowing down by the sixth stanza. A minute into the round, Moreno tried catching a jab from Yamanaka only to be surprised by a searing left cross that sent a billow of sweat into the stands and dumped him onto the mat.
Photo by Naoki Fukada
Yamanaka scored two more knockdowns in the fateful Round 7, including a clinching left hand that crashed into the chin on Moreno who was pinned into the corner.
Moreno could only sit in disarray as the referee almost immediately called a halt to the bout.
The Panamanian has long been one of the most underrated boxers on the planet. His methodical southpaw style never appealed to the mainstream audience.
Nonetheless, he was the WBA bantamweight champion for six years and defended his crown 12 times—highlighted by a 12-round boxing exposition over the popular Vic Darchinyan.
Many felt Moreno deserved the nod over Yamanaka in their first go-around. But now the Japanese champion has closed the conversation with an impressive display of power, becoming the only man to truly defeat Moreno.
Unlike Moreno’s split decision loss from 2002 or when he lost his WBA strap to Juan Carlos Payano who merely slobbered on him for a round or two until a headbutt ended the show early.
Yamanaka is 33, undefeated in 28 fights and is now the lineal Bantamweight champion. With this win, he would seem to be a fixture on boxing’s pound-for-pound list.
Hozumi Hasegawa, Yamanaka’s countryman, was also once the premier Bantamweight in the world and he, too, was successful Friday morning.
Hasegawa defeated WBC super bantamweight champion Hugo Ruiz in another fun brawl to become a three-divisional titleholder.
Andre Berto enthusiast | Bylines at Bleacher Report and Today's Knockout | Follow me on Twitter for live boxing streams