Yamanaka Blasts Out Moreno’ In previewing Shinsuke Yamanaka’s rematch with Anselmo Moreno, fought in Osaka, Japan today, I repeated the truism that the man who best adapted themselves to the details that emerged from their first fight would be victorious and in picking Yamanaka to be that man I was correct; the decisive manner of that victory after their desperately close first encounter certainly surprised me, however.
That this fight would be different was left in no doubt by the savage exchanges we saw in the very first round. This was not entirely unexpected. Yamanaka (the world’s #1 bantamweight) learned in the first fight that when he boxed fluidly and freely, Moreno (#4) wasn’t quite equal to his speed, while Moreno must have taken note of the vulnerability that crept into his opponent’s boxing when he was placed under unorthodox pressure.
What Yamanaka did well early was establish a range only barely out of Moreno’s reach, which called for him to commit more completely to any attack. Jabbing to the body, hanging to his left, Moreno seemed equal to this, landing a beautiful straight backed up by a thudding combination that had the Japanese hurt and retreating, albeit in an organized fashion. Moreno looked to capitalize but got caught by a crackling short left hand as he looked to land his own, wider punch. Yamanaka had surged inside and Moreno was very suddenly and unexpectedly on the ground looking up, his good work in the first all for naught on the scorecards.
Naturally, the Panamanian approached the second more conservatively in terms of punching but he problematically positioned himself for aggressive boxing without backing it up with the punches that looked to be winning him the first. This allowed Yamanaka to score reasonably consistently, but two good punches in the closing seconds, a left uppercut to the gut and a straight right over the top, might have bought Moreno the round. These punches signalled that he once again had his feet under him, and the third was well contested, Moreno sometimes swinging for air with a wild left and getting caught on the type of pre-counter that left him on his backside in the first, but also having his own success.
Things became untidy in the fourth with both men spilling into one-another’s territory, untidy holding, some rabbit punching and pushing the result. Iron-faced, Yamanaka edged forward with jabs, a left over to the top and a left to the body while Moreno, feinting with his head, found a lovely right hook forcing Yamanaka back untidily. Yamanaka was confident in his ability to hurt Moreno, however, and this brought him back to front and center with focused aggression, only for Moreno to find him with that southpaw jab, a half formed straight and then a beautiful hook turned through the hips and landed just in front of the ear. Yamanaka was barrelled onto his back, feet in the air.
He was up quickly and Moreno immediately set himself to find the Japanese, sending him stumbling off a right hook as the bell approached.
The balance in the fifth was intriguing. Both men were now confident in their ability to genuinely hurt one another for the first time in their sixteen rounds together, Moreno trying to peck forwards, head movement slightly forgotten, a certain wildness infusing his work as he tried to score without being scored upon. Straight lefts reddened Moreno’s face even as he came back with cuffing hooks, one of which left Yamanaka looking for his legs.
The contest was reasonably even but there was a sense that these quick-handed exchanges were favoring the faster Yamanaka and in the sixth he heralded the end. He began by re-establishing his jab to the head as Moreno looked to land the same punch to the body; feinting in with his right, Yamanaka landed a booming straight left that left Moreno stumbling back, down and onto his right side. Hand over the third rope, he found himself standing again but he was genuinely hurt with two minutes remaining in the round. Now Yamanaka began to hunt as Moreno sought to survive on pure smarts, ducking, weaving, and grabbing his way through perhaps the toughest two minutes of his career. Manhandled to the canvas he remained uncertain, stamping in punches on appendages that he could not fully trust in a desperate attempt to keep his tormentor off.
Coming out for the seventh, Moreno still looked unsure and bereft of his foundation; his gameplan wilted. Yamanaka feinted once more with the jab and once more landed a crushing straight and once more Moreno was sprawled before him, looking in vain for the rope before pushing himself bravely to his feet through what was left in his knees. Giving ground, fighting back, finding himself again on the ropes with the guile that normally saw him skip out entrapped in the messages of disaster spinning in his brain, his inability to defend himself was betrayed in the departure of his hand speed. A blade to a steer, Yamanaka’s right hand beat him back and Moreno’s legs departed him in the corner, depositing him neatly on his behind. The referee decreed no more.
This was impressive from Yamanaka, who moves to 26-0-2. He was aggressive, poised, determined and merciless. Moreno’s quality means he didn’t have it all his own way and birthed a fascinating, violent contest that pleased as much as it surprised. Yamanaka is not unopposed at 118lbs, but his most pronounced threats are probably American Rau’shee Warren, a fine boxer devoid of power whose record stands at 14-1, and Dominican Juan Carlos Payano who is a sliver more experienced at 17-1. This tells me that Yamanaka has now seen off his own generation of boxers and that he is now preparing to feast upon any fighters from the next who dare to invade his Japanese stronghold.
Moreno, now 36-5-1, will of course be disappointed to have suffered the first knockout loss of his career, but he has indicated he will depart for super-bantamweight, probably the right course of action and one that will hopefully breathe new life into his thirty-one year old legs. When the dust has settled he can remind himself too that there is no shame in losing to a fighter who must now be named one of the best in the world.
Yamanaka Blasts Out Moreno – Check out more details and highlights on Yamanaka versus Moreno at The Sweet Science.