Challenger Shinsuke Yamanaka, champion Luis Nery ready for rematch with WBC bantamweight title on line

By Kaz Nagatsuka,

The fighters are ready.

The boxing gloves are still a work in progress.

Shinsuke Yamanaka and WBC bantamweight champion Luis “Pantera” Nery both insisted they’re ready to step into the ring during a signing ceremony on Tuesday ahead of their rematch at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Thursday night.

WBC bantamweight champion Luis Nery and challenger Shinsuke Yamanaka pose during a news conference on Tuesday morning. | KAZ NAGATSUKA

“I’m in even better physical condition than last time. I’ve become more powerful and stronger mentally as well, said the 23-year-old Nery (25-0, 19 knockouts), who dethroned Yamanaka with a fourth-round TKO in August of 2017. “I’ll look for another knockout win this time. (But) I’ll get into the ring with a challenger’s mindset, not that of a champion. And I’ll bring the belt back to Mexico.

Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19 KOs), who is nicknamed “God’s Left” because of his powerful left hand, said he was also in good shape and wants to have the emerald green championship belt back in his possession again.

“At this signing ceremony, the belt isn’t in front of me but in front of Nery,” the 35-year-old said. “And it gives me a disgusting feeling. I’d like to get it back.”

Yamanaka, whose streak of successful title defenses came to an end at 12 with his defeat to the Mexican, confessed he has “greater motivation” now than when he held the title.

Both fighters stated that they feel good both physically and mentally during the news conference, which was attended by a large group of Mexican reporters. According to the organizers, the fight will be aired live in Mexico.

But not everything is ready for the big fight.

Nery and his side refused to accept the gloves the organizers prepared, claiming they are not the ones the Nery camp thought would be used.

Nery’s promoter Guillermo Brito said his side was expecting to use gloves from the Japanese brand Winning, which the fighters wore during their fight in August. However, organizers provided gloves from Mexican brand Reyes. Brito said the champion has the right to designate what gloves will be used.

“We feel really good about the Winning gloves we used,” Brito said. “We signed the contract to use the Winning gloves. We’ve been practicing with them, too. You get too strong of an impact getting hit with the Reyes gloves. The fight could end in the first round, whereas it could go for a few more rounds with the Winning gloves.”

The organizers announced they would try to prepare Winning gloves and check the gloves again at Wednesday’s rule meeting.

A Ryosuke Iwasa-Ernesto Saulong IBF super bantamweight title match is on Thursday’s undercard.

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