Boxing on the international stage shines...
By Hector Franco
September 22, 2016
Last weekend the attention was put squarely on Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez scored a 9th round knockout over the previously undefeated Liam Smith to capture the WBO 154-pound title. While all the lights were shining in Texas on Cowboys Stadium they were more important and more entertaining match-ups across the globe.
In the country of Japan at the EDION Arena in Osaka, Shinsuke Yamanaka (26-0-2, 18 KOs) successfully defended his WBC 118-pound title against Anselmo Moreno (36-5-1, 12 KOs) in a highly anticipated rematch. The fight exceeded all expectations as both men produced a valiant effort in what was a fight of the year candidate. Only Salido-Vargas may have produced more sustained action. Moreno may be best remembered for being the WBA champion at 118 and facing the likes of Vic Darchinyan and Abner Mares. The Panamanian has been out of the spotlight for the last few years but has remained one of the top fighters at 118. The first fight in 2015 between Yamanaka and Moreno was a controversial bout that Yamanaka won via disputed split decision. There was no controversy in the rematch.
The fight started off with fireworks as Moreno landed hard combinations on Yamanaka that backed him up. The danger in exchanging with a fighter like Yamanaka is that it leaves you open to his biggest weapon. His straight left hand. Much like former Japanese 122-pound champion, Toshiaki Nishioka, Yamanaka’s straight left is one of the best punches that any fighter has in the sport. Yamanaka’s straight left at this current moment would make Manny Pacquiao blush.
With 20 seconds left in the first round, Yamanaka sends Moreno to the canvas with a left hand. Moreno fell face forward as if he was tripped. The round was dominated by Moreno up until this point. The next two rounds were close and could have gone either way. Both landed power punches on one another with neither having the advantage over the other. The momentum swung in Moreno’s favor in the fourth round.
Through another close round in the fourth, Yamanaka started to land his straight left more often and got over confident. In an exchange in the last minute of the round, Moreno landed a right hook that put Yamanaka on the seat of his pants. Moreno kept this advantage through the fifth round as he once against almost scored a knockdown with another right hook. Moreno sensed that if he kept pressing the action he could get a stoppage against Yamanaka. The straight left once again changed the tide.
With two minutes left in the sixth round, Yamanaka scored another knockdown with the straight left. Moreno survived the round but the end was near. Yamanaka scored another knockdown at the 2:30 mark of the seventh round. The end came when Yamanaka got Moreno into the corner and once again dropped him. The ref waived off the fight and Yamanaka had gained his 11th successful title defense.
Yamanaka will move on from the fight and possibly look at unifying the division with some of the other champions at 118. Moreno still serves as a great opponent for another champion in the division as well. While 122-pound kingpin Guillermo Rigondeaux continues his search for a great opponent to step in the ring with him, maybe looking down a weight to Shinsuke Yamanaka is the answer.
On the undercard, there was another notable fight as Hozumi Hasegawa (36-5, 16 KOs) defeated WBC 122-pound champion Hugo Ruiz (36-4, 32 KOs). The bout was a back and forth affair that saw both men land a fair share of power shots. The bout featured open scoring per the WBC. Two of the judges had Hasegawa ahead and the other had Ruiz ahead after nine rounds. Ruiz, however, did not come out after the 9th round giving Hasegawa the stoppage victory and his third world title in three different weight classes.
Hasegawa was seen to be on the last leg of his career after a loss to Kiko Martinez back in April of 2014. Hasegawa was a longtime champion at 118 and had made a brief stint at featherweight winning the WBC title in 2010. With the victory, Hasegawa joins Japanese fighters Akira Yaegashi, Kazuto Ioka, and Koki Kameda as Japan’s only three division champions.
Japan is often a forgotten market in the boxing landscape. This past weekend it showed that great fighters perform in Japan in great fights. The future for Yamanaka and Hasegawa could lead to a showdown between the two in one of Japan’s biggest fights in history.
(Featured Photo: Naoki Fukuda/RingTV)