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Luis Nery vs. Shinsuke Yamanaka – Results

By Jim Dower: The 6-year title reign for previously Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19 KOs) came to an end on Tuesday night with him getting stopped by the much younger 22-year-old Mexican knockout artist Luis “Pantera” Nery (24-0, 18 KOs) in a 4th round TKO at the Shimazu Arena, in Kyoto, Japan.

This was the 13th title defense for Yamanaka, who captured the WBC title in November 2011 with an 11th round knockout win over Christian Esquivel. Few would have guessed it at the time that Yamanaka would hold onto his WBC title for as long as he did.

The shorter 5’5” Nery pounced on the 5’7” Yamanaka in the 4th round, nailing him with repeated left hands to the head. Yamanaka backed up against the ropes and tried to exchange, but he was nailed by several head-jarring shots that him looking in bad shape. Yamanaka’s corner rushed into the ring to have the fight stopped when it was clear that the 22-year Nery was on the verge of badly hurting the groggy looking Yamanaka.


The official time of the stoppage by referee Michael Griffin was at 2:29 of round 4. Yamanaka might have been able to take a little more punishment from Nery, but he wouldn’t have made it out of the round on his feet if his corner hadn’t stepped in to save him. Nery was clocking Yamanaka with repeated left hands to the head and he could do nothing to stop them.

In round 1, Yamanaka looked good, standing tall and jabbing Nery from then outside with stiff punches. Nery was patient, biding his time and not throwing a lot of punches. It looked like Nery was studying Yamanaka, and waiting for the right time to launch his explosive attacks. Towards the end of the round, Nery landed several jarring shots to the head of Yamanaka that got his attention. Yamanaka looked shocked after taking the shots. Yamanaka was confident up until that point in the round, but those punches seemed to take the confidence away from him. Nery was so calm during the round. He didn’t have the look of someone that was worried about Yamanaka at all. He’d beaten a lot of good fighters going into the fight, and he tons of experience fighting in his home in Tijuana, Mexico. There was nothing that Yamanaka was showing him that had Nery the least bothered.

In round 2, Yamanaka started off well, jabbing and receiving a lot of cheering from his boxing fans at ringside. Suddenly, Nery landed 2 big right hands followed by a left to the head of Yamanaka that quieted the crowd. Moments later, Nery landed another tremendous left to the head of Yamanaka that twisted his head sideways from the impact of the blow. Yamanaka continued to jab effectively after that. However, in the last seconds of the round, both fighters exchanged some big shots with Nery getting the better of it. He landed 2 solid left hands to the head of Yamanaka during that brief toe-to-toe action. Yamanaka landed a hard left at the bell. If there was more time left in the round, Nery would have likely continued to unload on Yamanaka. Nery looked like he wanted to finish Yamanaka off right then and there in that round. He showed that he was the much faster guy, stronger and superior fighter during their exchanges. Yamanaka should have known better to get in an exchange with a guy like Nery. That was an issue of pride with Yamanaka that didn’t work out too well for him. What Yamanaka needed most of all was to fight smart, use his ring IQ and play to his strengths, which was his boxing ability and not his slugging.

After the 2nd round, Yamanaka’s corner was looking worried as they gave him instructions. It’s unclear what they told him, but he was a lot more disciplined when he came out for round 3. Yamanaka exclusively used his jab in the round, hitting Nery hard with it repeatedly. That round showed why the southpaw Yamanaka has been such a great champion. When he’s fighting smart and staying on the outside, he’s very hard to hit because of his 5’7” height, long reach and his top-notch jab. Nery was hit frequently by Yamanaka’s jab when he was coming forward looking to engage. However, near the end of the round, Nery landed a big right-hand jab that looked like a power punch. His jab was incredibly powerful, and it snapped Yamanaka’s head back violently. Nery then followed up with a hard left-right combination to the head of Yamanaka. At the bell, Nery connected with a left hand to the head of the champion Yamanaka. The crowd was stone silent. They weren’t cheering Yamanaka, and they appeared to sense that things were not going to go Yamanaka’s way tonight.

Nery was a much different fighter at the start of round 4, as he immediately went on the attack and nailed Yamanaka with 2 big lefts to the head. Nery seemed to be fully warmed up at that point, and he was no longer going to fight at the slow pace that he’d been doing in the first 3 rounds. Unfortunately for Yamanaka, he was not prepared mentally for that kind of an attack from the faster, younger and more powerful Nery. Yamanaka tried to slow down the action with clinches, but that didn’t work, as Nery continued to land blistering shots as soon as the two fighters were separated. Early in the round, Nery staggered Yamanaka with a 4-punch combination to the head. Yamanaka ducked and tried to move away, but Nery stayed on top of him, hitting him with chopping shots to the head as he backed away. It’s surprising that Yamanaka could stay upright because he was hit with some big punches while he was off balance. Yamanaka went back to jabbing once he was on the outside once again. However, Nery landed a big punch to the head of Yamanaka, causing him to back up to the ropes. Nery then unloaded some devastating combinations that resulted in Yamanaka’s corner stepping in to stop the fight. Nery missed with a lot of power shots in the final sequence of the fight, but the ones that he did land were brutal. Yamanaka was hurt and he couldn’t take too much more punishment without hitting the deck.
Nery came into the fight with an impressive unbeaten record and a No.1 ranking with the World Boxing Council.

Despite Nery’s impressive resume, few people would have predicted that he would obliterate the experienced and quite talented Yamanaka, who is rated highly in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound ranking. Coming into tonight’s fight with Nery, many in the boxing world believed Yamanaka to be the best fighter in the bantamweight division. He may well have been the best technical fighter, but he clearly wasn’t in the same league as Nery when it came to punching power, hand speed and explosive energy. That was the main difference between the two fighters tonight. Yamanaka looked like the more technical of the two fighters, but Nery’s hand speed and explosive offense was more than what the Japanese fighter could bargain for. As good as Yamanaka has been during his 11-year pro career, he had never fought anyone with the blistering fast explosive energy that we saw from Nery tonight. That’s the main reason why Yamanaka lost. He could not deal with Nery’s fast combinations when he would go on the attack.

During Yamanaka’s 6-year stint as the WBC 118 lb. champion, he defeated the likes of Carlos Carlson, Anselmo Moreno [twice], Liborio Solis, Diego Ricardo Santillan, Stephane Jamoye, Jose Nieves, Malcolm Tunacao and Vic Darchinyan. All good things must come to an end though, and Yamanaka was fortunate to hold onto his WBC title for as long as he did, as he’s not young any longer.

Yamanaka still has the talent to be a world champion. I would favor Yamanaka to beat WBA champion Jamie McDonnell. However, Yamanaka would have problems beating WBO champion Zolani Tete, IBF belt holder Ryan Burnett and WBA champ Zhanat Zhakiyanov. Those are good fighters, and they’re young.

With Nery’s impressive win tonight over Yamanaka, we may have a new star in the bantamweight division. Nery looks very hard to beat right now, and he’s got the Golovkin-like way of knocking out his opponents. If Nery can continue to score stoppages the way he’s been doing, he’ll be a star in the future in boxing.


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