In a battle of sharpshooters Tuesday in Tokyo, Anselmo Moreno appeared to shoot sharper for the majority of the rounds. But the local fighter, Shinsuke Yamanaka, won a split decision with only one round separating each man on all three cards.
Yamanaka, the world’s top bantamweight, was jabbing better and landing the harder left hands of the two southpaws early, especially when he let Moreno lead, but Moreno started to find a rhythm in the 3rd with his own jab. By the middle rounds, Moreno had separated himself: After some close stanzas that he nonetheless deserved to win, he became superior in every way. The difference was in punch variety. Moreno would go to the body whereas Yamanaka would not; Moreno would mix in counter rights with his 1-2, while Yamanaka was all 1-2.
The damage accumulated, and in the 9th, Moreno rocked Yamanaka with one of those counter rights during an exchange. With all signs pointing to Moreno fully taking over — and the open scoring indicated that it was turning into that kind of fight — Yamanaka rallied in the 10th, catching Moreno with a left on the temple. Moreno suddenly was only interested in holding, and got a reprieve when Yamanaka lost his mouthpiece, too.
Moreno, still a little shaky to start the 11th, recovered himself and took over the penultimate round, perhaps even dropping Yamanaka, although it might have been more of a slip — Yamanaka rescued himself a little by catching Moreno in a clinch as he fell, although he appeared to touch the canvas, because the ref wiped off his gloves. It was enough to take the round for Moreno, and the 12th was ragged and hard to score. This scribe missed the 1st round but scored four of the remainder for Yamanaka total — the 2nd, 4th, 10th and 12th. (There weren’t a lot of folk scoring on Twitter bright and early, but those who did had it wider for Moreno.)
Even if Yamanaka won the 1st, that math favors Moreno. Unfortunately for him, he was fighting on Yamanaka’s home soil. We got a solid boxing match, with some drama late. Too bad we didn’t also get a rightful winner.
(picture: Moreno, left, Yamanaka, right; via)