On Tuesday in Japan, undefeated WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka defends against top-rated veteran Anselmo Moreno. It won’t get a tremendous amount of attention in the United States, but this is an extremely relevant fight at the elite level. Yamanaka is the top 118-pound fighter in the world and even rated in the pound-for-pound top 10 by Ring Magazine.
Moreno is rated No. 3 by Ring, although he’s coming off a loss to by Round 6 Technical Decision to Juan Carlos Payano almost a year ago. That fight cost him his WBA title at 118-pounds.
Prior to losing to Payano, Moreno had been a long-reigning and dominant champion. He had held the WBA world title since May 2008 and since 2002, his only loss had come while moving up to 122 pounds to challenge Abner Mares for the WBC world title there. Moreno is an extremely sharp defensive fighter.
Yamanaka is an experienced veteran who has held the WBC strap since 2011. His best win was probably in 2012, when he beat Vic Darchinyan. However, he has consistently looked sharp and dangerous against world-class opposition. Last April he knocked out previously undefeated Diego Ricardo Santillan. He’s an exciting, action fighter.
This kind of big-name fight should have a positive influence across the weight class. If Moreno can pull off the upset, staying in Japan for his next bout could make a lot of sense, as it would allow him to target the very popular Koki Kameda.
If Yamanaka prevails, a showdown with his countryman, Komeda, would also be a natural next step. Kameda is actually scheduled to face WBA super flyweight champion Kohei Kono in October, in a bid to become a three-division world champion, but he’s the former WBA belt holder at 118 and a showdown with Yamanaka would be a can’t-miss fight in Japan and one worth tracking down feed for in the United States.
Perhaps the ideal fight for Moreno, if he wins, would be a rematch with Payano. Brits Lee Haskins and Jamie McDonnell should also factor in any talks about big fights at bantamweight.