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Shinsuke Yamanaka: “Vic Darchinyan is the only fighter I am thinking of”

(Photo © Naoki Fukuda)
(Photo © Naoki Fukuda)

All boxers who enters the sport universally share one common goal, to become a world champion. Not many actually achieve said goal; however, some aren’t content with just that. They look to challenge themselves against the very best. Take Japanese bantamweight Shinsuke Yamanaka. Having won the vacant WBC strap stopping valiant Mexican Christian Esquivel in the 11th round of a fight that saw both men on the canvas, he sought out the toughest available opponent he could. He meets former two-division world champion Vic Darchinyan on Friday in his maiden title defense. The 29-year-old Tokyo-based fighter is heavy-handed like Darchinyan so the bout has a lot of promise. If Yamanaka can keep hold of the crown, he’ll improve his 15-0-2 (11) record and further enhance his reputation among the world’s elite at 118. 
Anson Wainwright -You beat Mexican Christian Esquivel for the vacant WBC bantamweight title, recently stopping him the penultimate round. You had both been down; can you tell us about the fight?
Shinsuke Yamanaka - I was fortunate to fight my fight against a tough opponent. I had prepared well for the fight and wanted to show an impressive performance for my fans who had supported me. 

AW - How happy were you with your performance? What have you done since the victory?
SY - I was knocked down in the fight but I was not hurt and I was happy to come out with a victory. After the fight, I been eating things I am not able to eat while in training.
AW - Has winning the title changed anything in your life?
SY – I have been busier than before as my title defence gets closer, to do requests for interviews. I have also been asked to help with public safety activities in Shiga Prefecture, where I am from. I am very happy to be able to help. 
AW - Have you appeared on TV and/or radio to talk about the fight?
SY - Some local TV shows. The reception from the media has been very warm. I am still getting used to appearing on television. 
AW - It’s still early but when would you like to fight next and who are the possible opponents?
SY – I wanted my next fight to be with a notable and competitive opponent. I was very surprised and pleased that I was able to get a fight with a big name fighter as Darchinyan. I hope to get better recognition after this fight and look forward to other notable fighters, especially big name fighters in America.
AW - Who are the members of your team? Where do you regularly train?
SY - My trainer is Yamato Shin, manager is Ms. Haru Nagano and Mr. [Akihiko] Honda of Teiken Promotions is my promoter. I train at Teiken Gym in Tokyo.
AW - Can you tell us about your early years growing up in Konan, Japan? Were things tough for you?
SY - I had a very normal childhood. 
AW - How did you first become interested in boxing?
SY - I got interested in boxing from watching great fighters on TV. [Joichiro] Tatsuyoshi (a very popular Japanese fighter who twice held the WBC bantamweight title in the 1990s), [Mike] Tyson, [Naseem] Hamed to name a few. 
AW - Did you have an amateur career? If so, can you tell us about it and what titles and tournaments you won? What was your final record?
SY – My amateur boxing career was average with a 34-13 record.
AW - There are several top fighters at bantamweight despite Nonito Donaire moving up to super bantamweight. What are your thoughts on the division? What about the other champions, the WBA’s “super” champion Anselmo Moreno, WBA “regular” champion Koki Kameda, the IBF’s Abner Mares and the WBO’s Jorge Arce? What do you think of their recent wins?
SY - There are many good fighters in the division and the mentioned fighters are good fighters. I am much focused on Darchinyan for now and that is the only fighter I am thinking of.
AW - What fighters growing up did you admire and who do you like to watch today?
SY - Tatsuyoshi is who I watched growing up. Today, I like watching any good fighters.  
AW - When you’re not boxing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
SY –At the present time, I have very little spare time, preparing for my upcoming fight on April 6. After a fight, I like to relax and enjoy eating meals that I am not able to eat when I am in training. I also like to study nutrition to improve myself.
AW – Finally, you were in Las Vegas for the WBC convention late last year. How did that go? Can you tell us who you met, the experience and is fighting there something you’d like to do in the future?
SY - I did go to the WBC convention. I met many great champions, George Foreman, Marvin Hagler, Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, Miguel Cotto, Wayne McCullough and more. I would love the opportunity to fight in Las Vegas or anywhere that I can fight a good opponent.
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at and you can follow him at

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