WBC world bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (26-0-2) returns to action this Thursday, March 1st to take on the challenge of Mexico’s Carlos Carlson (22-1). Yamanaka has held the belt for more than five years now, and a win over Carlson would give him 12 title defenses, making him one of the most successful champions on the world stage today. Yamanaka is revered in Japan, and he has never looked to spread his wings and fight outside of his home country. Now 34 years old, he appears to be content to headline Tokyo and bring opponents in. Yamanaka went 2-0 in 2016, last defending his belt in September against Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno of Panama, a decorated former world champion. Yamanaka and Moreno first met back in September of 2015, and Yamanaka escaped with a narrow split decision win. Last September’s match was about unfinished business, and Yamanaka closed Moreno out in the seventh round to improve on his last performance. With the Moreno fight being a big deal, it is conceivable that this is considered a “down” fight for Yamanaka. In this bout, the presence of Carlson invokes the “Japan vs. Mexico” rivalry, and that is no small thing. The matchups of fighters between the two countries have resulted in epic battles throughout recent years. Carlson is a fighter who is tested in hostile territory, having fought his fights since 2014 in the United States. Notably, he lost the first fight of his career but has not lost since, winning 22 bouts in a row. He is tall and lanky, and that could help him to nullify some of Yamanaka’s physical advantages, and perhaps most importantly, he is eight years younger. On the Japanese scene, they recently saw Takashi Uchiyama, the longtime super featherweight titleholder fall to a younger man in Panama’s Jezreel Corrales, and Uchiyama also failed in his rematch bid. Yamanaka will have all the usual “home field” advantages in this one, but what is at play here is whether or not father time will show up. The seven-fight boxing card goes down at the Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, and several of the preliminary fights are also getting attention at the sportsbooks. Also of note on the Teiken Promotions event is the presence of former two-division world champion Brian Viloria (36-5), who is returning to action after sitting out all of 2016. We last saw Viloria in November of 2015 when he lost a world title bid to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Kokugikan – Tokyo, Japan Bantamweight – 12 rounds Carlos Carlson +850 Shinsuke Yamanaka -1750 Super Featherweight – 10 rounds Satoru Sugita +400 Kenichi Ogawa -600 Featherweight – 8 rounds Glenn Medura +1750 Ryosuke Iwasa -5250
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