Ryan Songalia

Yamanaka, Gonzalez score KOs in Japan

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Shinsuke Yamanaka showed why he is regarded as the hardest hitting bantamweight in the world today, knocking out Alberto Guevara in the ninth round to retain his WBC bantamweight title on Sunday afternoon in Tokyo.

Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15 knockouts) used his signature southpaw left cross to drop the tough contender from Mexico twice in the eighth round and once in the ninth, bringing the bout to a conclusion at the :25 mark.

It was the fifth defense of his title for Yamanaka, 31, who won the title in 2011 with a knockout of Christian Esquivel. The only man to go the distance with Yamanaka since he won the title is Vic Darchinyan, who lost a unanimous decision in 2011. Yamanaka is currently rated No. 2 by THE RING at 118 pounds.

The loss was Guevara’s (18-2, 6 KOs) first since dropping a decision to Leo Santa Cruz last year in a vie for the IBF bantamweight title.

In his third consecutive foray above the junior flyweight division, Roman Gonzalez (37-0, 31 KOs) seemed in a hurry to get rid of his opponent, recent title challenger Oscar Blanquet (32-7-1, 23 KOs) of Mexico City. It took the Nicaraguan slugger just three and a half minutes to make his presence felt in the 112-pound weight division.

altThe former strawweight and junior flyweight titleholder Gonzalez came out aggressively, landing sweeping left hooks on the straight-up Blanquet, who had gone 12 competitive rounds with RING/WBC flyweight titleholder Akira Yaegashi in August.

Blanquet fought back but appeared weary, and found himself on the canvas near the end of the first round from a leaping left hook. Blanquet rose up and survived, but was all but finished as the bell sounded.

Sensing that Blanquet had not recovered from the previous round’s thrashing, Gonzalez pounced on his wounded opponent, hurting him twice along the ropes with left hooks to force the referee’s hand. The time of stoppage was :27 of Round 2.

Gonzalez’s entrance into the flyweight division injects much needed firepower into the weight class, making several exciting fights possible. RING flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi, who like Gonzalez is an all-action banger, fights out of Japan too, making the fight a potential big hit domestically.

There’s also WBO/WBA titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, whom Gonzalez beat in a competitive fight last year at 108 pounds. Estrada has since moved up in weight, upsetting Brian Viloria to win a pair of belts.

Also on the card, a pair of former titleholders worked to reignite their careers with a pair of first-round knockout wins as they await another chance at capturing a belt.

Takahiro Ao won his second straight bout since losing the WBC junior lightweight title last year, knocking out Edgar Alejandro Lomeli in the first round.

Former featherweight and super featherweight titleholder Jorge Linares registered his fourth win in a row with a first round knockout of Francisco Contreras. Linares, 28, is a native of Barinas, Venezuela, but now lives and trains out of Tokyo.

 

Photos by Naoki Fukuda

 

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