Shinsuke Yamanaka’s bid to equal the Japan record for most consecutive title defenses ended with the champion on the ropes and his towel in the ring.
Mexican challenger Luis Nery dealt Yamanaka a fourth-round loss by technical knockout in their WBC bantamweight title fight on Tuesday night before a stunned crowd at Shimadzu Arena in Kyoto.
Yamanaka’s corner threw in the towel with the fighter pinned against the ropes and taking blows late in the fourth round, ending his hopes of a 13th straight title defense, which would have tied the Japan record held by former WBA light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken that has stood for 37 years.
The 34-year-old Yamanaka, who turned pro in 2006, suffered the first loss of his career in 30 pro fights (including two draws), and gave up the belt he had held since November 2011.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Yamanaka said he was undecided about continuing his career.
“I can’t decide right away,” he said. “Please give me a little time.”
In the battle of southpaws, Yamanaka used his signature punch that has been dubbed “God’s left” to score in the first round as the two fighters traded blows.
Nery landed with a sharp left in the second round, and took control in the third round. He finished it off with a flurry in the fourth.
“I didn’t think I had taken so many [punches], but it caused concern in my corner,” Yamanaka said of the fourth round. “If I had used my legs more ...”
Nery, 22, remained unbeaten at 24-0 with 18 knockouts with his first victory outside of his homeland. He said that with the fight in his opponent’s country, he thought he needed a knockout to come away with the victory.
Nery, who turned pro at 17 and is nicknamed Pantera (Spanish for panther), showed his speed and power. He earned the title shot with a fourth-round TKO between the top two challengers.
Nery said that as he had a good read on Yamanaka’s punches by the end of the third round, he was convinced he would win.
Gushiken, who was at ringside as a special TV commentator, said he was pulling for Yamanaka to equal his record.
“He only needed one more, and I definitely wanted him to win,” he said.