By Jake Donovan
Shinsuke Yamanaka and Anselmo Moreno are set for their highly anticipated bantamweight title fight Tuesday evening in Tokyo, Japan.
Yamanaka (23-0-2, 17KOs) attempts the ninth defense of the bantamweight title he claimed in Nov. '11. The unbeaten southpaw from Japan scored a 7th round knockout of Diego Santillan in his most recent bout this past May.
Nearly three years of his reign ran parallel with Moreno's stay at the top, though sadly their long-awaited clash missed unification status by a year.
Moreno (35-3-1, 12KOs) earned his championship in 2008, scoring a 12-round decision over the excellent Wladimir Sidirenko on the road in Germany to ignite what would be a six-year reign. The rangy southpaw from Panama ranked up 14 title defenses, several of which took place on the road. His championship status came to a close last September, dropping a six-round technical decision to Juan Carlos Payano in Texas.
The showdown with Yamanaka marks the first piece of ring action for Yamanaka, just four days shy of a full year of inactivity.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: SHINSUKE YAMANAKA vs. ANSELMO MORENO
Jake Donovan (Yamanaka Dec.): I'd like Moreno's chances a lot more had this fight taken place 2-3 years ago. But then he'd have been facing a stronger version of Yamanaka back then as well. Yamanaka retains his title, gunning for the KO but settling for a decision in an awkward fight typical of Moreno's style.
Takahiro Onaga (Yamanaka UD): Stylistically this one is brilliant matchup featuring boxer against puncher. When you consider other things, like Moreno's long lay off, it does nudge things in favour of the defending champion who I think will drop Moreno but not shine en route to a very tough decision win.
Cliff Rold (Moreno Dec.): The pick here is Moreno by decision in a solid technical clash that may not deliver fireworks but will provide plenty for the clinical eye.
Victor Salazar (Moreno UD): Moreno will go into hostile territory and leave with a unanimous decision.
Reynaldo Sanchez (Yamanaka mid-rds TKO): I think Moreno is no longer in his prime. Anselmo would have to give an extraordinary fight and almost perfect performance in order to get a win in Japan. Yamanaka has a better KO % and also physical advantages in height and reach. Yamanaka knows that Moreno hasn’t the power to hurt him and that will make the Japanese fighter come out in search of the KO from the first round.
Alexey Sukachev (Yamanaka UD): It's all about the groove. Yamanaka is on a high roll, and he is more than just a puncher. He can box at least a bit and he has got more polished since his title reign has kicked off. Moreno, on the other hand, definitely lost some steam. Not against Payano but also versus Mares. I feel Yamanaka will force Moreno to be overly cautious and defensive and it'll help him to get all he needed to get while fighting at home. Moreno late surges will be proven to be ineffective. A close win for Yamanaka is my prediction.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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