Dan Rafael: Shinsuke Yamanaka

Japan's fighter of year: Yamanaka

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
Bantamweight titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka has never fought outside of his home country of Japan and certainly isn't a well-known figure to American boxing fans, but he is one of the best 118-pounders in the world.

The 31-year-old Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15 KOs), a southpaw, has made five title defenses since knocking out Mexico's Christian Esquivel in the 11th round in November 2011. In 2012, in his first two defenses, Yamanaka outpointed Vic Darchinyan and knocked out Tomas Rojas, both former junior bantamweight titleholders.

Yamanaka made three more defenses in 2013, knockouts of Malcolm Tunacao, Jose Nieves and Alberto Guevara. It was a strong year for Yamanaka, who this week was selected jointly by the Japan Boxing Commission and the Japanese boxing writers as the Japanese Boxer of the Year for 2013. He received 21 of the 34 total votes for the award.

Junior lightweight titlist Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17 KOs), who made two of his eight defenses in 2013, was the runner-up (11 votes). He knocked out Jaider Parra in the fifth round in May and then survived a 10th-round knockout to easily outpoint Daiki Kanenko on New Year's Eve in Tokyo.

Kazuto Ioka (14-0, 9 KOs), the outstanding junior flyweight titlist, was third (2 votes), coming off a 2013 in which he made three successful defenses after winning his belt in late 2012.

Several other awards were handed out, including rookie of the year, which went to middleweight Ryota Murata (2-0, 2 KOs), the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, who turned pro in August. We should see him in the United States at some point because he is co-promoted by Top Rank.
The Japanese fight of the year award went to Uchiyama-Kaneko.

Three title bouts set for Japan

August, 24, 2012
The fight schedule slowed over the summer but heats back up in the fall -- and not only here and in Europe, but also in Japan.

On Friday, three world title bouts were announced:

• Japan's Takahiro Ao (23-2-1, 10 KOs), who won a junior lightweight belt in 2010 by outpointing Vitali Tajbert, will make his fourth title defense against Gamaliel Diaz (36-9-2, 17 KOs) of Mexico on Oct. 27 in Tokyo. Diaz, who handed Robert Guerrero his only defeat in a 2005 featherweight bout (and got knocked out in the immediate rematch in 2006), has lost his two previous world title bouts. He got knocked out by Jorge Linares in the eighth round of a featherweight title bout in 2007 and was stopped in the 11th round of a junior lightweight interim title bout by Humberto Soto in 2008.

Ao said he is hopeful that after a win against Diaz he will be able to meet countryman Takashi Uchiyama in a 130-pound title unification bout.

• Bantamweight titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka (16-0-2, 11 KOs) of Japan will make his second defense against former junior bantamweight titleholder Tomas Rojas (39-13-1, 26 KOs) of Mexico in Sendai, Japan, on Nov. 3.

On the same card, flyweight titleholder Toshiyuki Igarashi (16-1-1, 10 KOs) of Japan will make his first defense against Nestor Narvaes (19-0-2, 9 KOs) of Argentina.