By Jake Donovan
Shinsuke Yamanaka racked up the fifth successful defense of his bantamweight title with a 9th round stoppage of Mexico's Alberto Guevara in their TV WOWOW-televised main event Sunday evening in Japan.
Yamanaka overcame a rough start to eventually break down Guevara, scoring two knockdowns in the eighth round before finishing off the visiting challenger with a third knockdown early in round nine.
The general consensus heading into the contest suggests Yamanaka as the baddest bantamweight on the planet. The end result certainly suggested as much, but the win wasn't as easy as the outcome would lead you to believe. There's an argument to be made that Guevara won the first round and would have been ahead on the scorecards through the first four or five rounds in a location anywhere other than Japan.
The judges didn't seem quite as impressed with Guevara's early aggression, winning only one round on each of the three judges' scorecards. Yamanaka was ahead 40-36 and 39-37 (twice) through the first four rounds of action, and 79-71 on all three scorecards through eight rounds.
While there are many who take issue with open scoring, Yamanaka tuned out the results and simply recognized the challenge in front of him. Guevara made his presence felt throughout, but his actions merely awoke a sleeping giant. Yamanaka took over for good somewhere around the fifth round and proceeded to do what he does better than most others in the business - break down his opponent to the point of no return.
Guevara eventually hit a wall, falling behind before eventually falling down. Yamanaka floored the Mexican contender twice in an eighth round that brilliantly set up a spectacular finish in the ninth. A third knockdown in the bout came early in the round, and was enough to convince referee Hector Afu that the night lasted long enough.
The official time was 0:27 of round nine.
With the win, Yamanaka advances to 20-0-2 (15KO), registering the fifth defense of the bantamweight crown he won two years ago, almost to the day.
Guevara falls to 18-2 (10KO), with both losses coming in title fights. The visiting challenger came up short in a failed bantamweight title bid versus Leo Santa Cruz last December in the first bout to air live on CBS in more than a decade.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox