By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
It’s great that former WBC bantamweight champ Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19 KOs), a Japanese hard-punching southpaw, will participate in a grudge fight with current WBC titlist Luis Nery (25-0, 19 KOs), Mexico, in Tokyo, Japan, on March 1. It was announced by Teiken Promotions, which also made public a supporting world title bout where newly crowned IBF 122-pound champ Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2 16 KOs) will put his belt on the line against #13 ranked Filipino Ernesto Saulong (21-2-1, 8 KOs) on the same bill at Ryogoku Sumo Arena.
Yamanaka, then making his thirteenth defense, forfeited his WBC belt by a fourth-round stoppage caused by a cornerman tossing in the towel in August of the previous year. Having been overly reacted by Nery’s opening attack, he (the trainer) had the towel fluttering in without the manager’s consent. Yamanaka himself insisted that he could go on, but there’s no crying over the already thrown towel. The fight was over. His belt was gone.
Problem happened when Nery tested positive after a VADA doping test—eleven days after the contest. Nery defended himself, claiming he had eaten contaminated meat that might eventually cause the positive test result. Various controversies and disputes including a possibility of stripping Nery of his belt continued for months, but the WBC finally made a decision on October 31 that Nery would remain champion with his obligation to defend his belt against Yamanaka in a direct rematch.
Yamanaka, twelve years his senior at 35, said at the conference, “I’ll regain my belt from Nery with my utmost motivation and dedication. This time I’m a challenger and will win back the WBC belt.”
People in Japan and Mexico as well look forward to watching their highly anticipated revancha (rematch) with our greatest attention. Who’s the winner? Time will tell.