Shinsuke Yamanaka suffered his first pro defeat on Tuesday, losing his WBC bantamweight crown in a fourth-round technical knockout to Mexico’s Luis Nery.
Yamanaka, making his 13th title defense, was staggered in the fourth round, and his trainer threw in the towel with 29 seconds left in the round at Shimadzu Arena Kyoto.
“When we first started, I didn’t think he was such a tough opponent, and I was able to land some lefts,” Yamanaka said.
In a battle of southpaws, the 22-year-old Nery, the top-ranked challenger, appeared to have the slight edge after two rounds. Yamanaka launched some serious forays in the third, but could not do any meaningful damage. When the 34-year-old champ went on the attack in the fourth, he walked into a couple of Nery lefts.
The blows appeared to stun Yamanaka, who stopped offering up any defense, and Nery unleashed one combination after another until the fight was stopped.
“In the fourth round, I thought I was OK, but I was getting hit a lot and that worried my corner,” Yamanaka said.
“I want to apologize for not being able to meet expectations.”
Yamanaka’s record fell to 27-1-2, while the new champ improved to 24-0 with 18 wins by knockout.
“I was successful in dodging his left,” Nery said. “But his jabs were stronger than I expected.”
“Now I’ve realized my dream of becoming world champion, and I’m overjoyed. This was the toughest fight of my career.”
Had Yamanaka won his 13th world title fight, he would have moved into a tie for the Japanese record with Yoko Gushiken and current WBA flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka.
“He fell one short,” Gushiken said. “I so wanted him to win. Yamanaka is such a wonderful human being, and all along, he’s been having good fights.”