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Luis Nery vs. Shinsuke Yamanaka 2 on March 1

By Jim Dower: Luis Nery (25-0, 19 KOs) will be facing Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19 KOs) in a rematch on March 1 at the Kokugikan, in Tokyo, Japan. Nery, 23, will be defending his WBC World bantamweight title against the 35-year-old Yamanaka, who he knocked out in the 4th round last year on August 15 in Kyoto, Japan.

Yamanaka was the favorite going into that fight, but Nery’s youth, speed and combination punching was too much for the Japanese fighter. Nery ended Yamanaka’s streak of 12 consecutive successful title defenses of his WBC 118 lb. title. The streak lasted 6 years for Yamanaka. However, he never fought anyone with the speed and combination punching ability that Nery brought to the table in their fight last year. That was the real difference. It didn’t matter that Yamanaka had been the WBC champion for 6 years, and that he was the favorite. Nery was all wrong for him. It was the wrong fighter at the wrong time of Yamanaka’s career to be facing that kind of guy.

Nery was popped on a VADA administered drug test after the fight with Yamanaka. Nery tested positive for the banned drug zilpaterol. Nery said that he ingested the drug by eating contaminated meat in Mexico. The World Boxing Council subsequently gave Nery the benefit of the doubt, but they still ordered the rematch between him and Yamanaka.

The 5’7” Yamanaka thinks he’ the better fighter than the 5’5” Nery, and he can’t wait to get inside the ring to prove it. Nery was ahead on the scorecards at the time he stopped Yamanaka in round 4. It didn’t look like a fluke win. It appeared that Nery was the better fighter of the two, but the better technical fighter. Yamanaka had the superior boxing skills, but he couldn’t deal with Nery’s speed, power and combination punching.

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Yamanaka, 35, will have been out of the ring for 7 months by the time he faces Nery on March 1. That’s not the ideal situation for an aging fighter like Yamanaka, but that was his decision. Nery fought on November 4 n stopping the hard hitting Filipino Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17 KOs0 in the 6th round in Tijuana, Mexico. Nery was knocked down in the 4th round of that fight. However, he got up and wore Villanueva down and stopped him 2 rounds later in the 6th.

Yamanaka will be the challenger against Nery. He’s going to need to fight a lot better in the rematch if he doesn’t want to get knocked out again, because Nery looked like he was going to KO Yamanaka from the earliest moments of the fight.

“To be honest, I’ve been training thinking that I want to avenge the loss to (Nery),” said Yamanaka to Japan Times. “I couldn’t end my career that way.”

Yamanaka was going to retire from boxing following his loss to Nery, but he changed his mind and decided to continue. The WBC giving Yamanaka a rematch with Nery was a factor in his decision to continue his career. But if Yamanaka loses again, it’s likely he’ll hang up his gloves and walk away from the sport. There are guys that Yamanaka would have a good chance of beating like IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett. But getting a title shot against Burnett might prove to be impossible.

On the undercard of the Nery vs. Yamanaka 2 rematch, IBF super bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2, 16 KO) will be facing Ernesto Saulong (21-2-1, 8 KO).

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