WBO World Champion Ryuya Yamanaka Wants To Impress This Friday In Second Title Defense

Japan’s Ryuya Yamanaka will make the second defense of his WBO Mini-Flyweight title against dangerous Filipino puncher Vic Saludar, at the Central Gym, in his hometown of Kobe, Japan, on Friday.

Yamanaka, who is ranked No. 4 by The Ring at 105 pounds, won the title last August, edging compatriot Tatsuya Fukuhara, in a hard-fought battle. He retained his belt for the first time, surprisingly stopping the man Fukuhara had bested, battle-tested Moises Calleros, forcing the Mexican to retire in his corner, at the conclusion of eight rounds, last March.

It was an impressive win for Yamanaka (16-2, 5 knockouts), who is more known as a boxer than a puncher. He feels that, although the result looks good, he has room for improvement.

“I had prepared and trained very well with my trainer Mr. Masato Yamashita for the last bout with Calleros,” Yamanaka told The Ring through Tomoyuki Kataoka. “I think that such preparation and training resulted in my victory. I have not been satisfied with the result, and therefore, I will continue doing my best to grow stronger.”

The most noticeable thing the 23-year-old has improved in his game, since winning the title, is his greater physicality, as illustrated by the Calleros victory.

“I think that I have improved my offensive strength and increased varieties of my offensive ability,” he said.

Those fights, as well as excellent preparation under the tutelage of Yamashita, have helped Yamanaka prepare for this potentially tricky, upcoming defense, though he remains confident of victory.

“Saludar is very powerful and skillful boxer,” he explained. “It seems that he has weakness; however I will come up with my answer to it during the bout with him.

“This bout will become my toughest one I have ever had; however, who will get the last laugh is, of course, me.”

Yamashita runs the Shinsei Gym in Kobe and produced the exceptional former three-division titlist Hozumi Hasegawa. He also works with Shun Kubo, who held the WBA junior featherweight title as recently as last year, promising prospects Yuki Yamauchi, who will make his debut on the undercard, and Tetsura Ohashi.

Yamashita has high hopes for his newest protege.

“I hope that he will be able to become an esteemed world champion, in light of his behavior, and also private life,” said the trainer. “I would like him to win world championships in three weight classes. He is still young.

“He will fight at strawweight this year and later go up to junior flyweight. I think he will be able to fight up to flyweight.”

By Anson Wainwright