Bantamweight world titleholder Luis Nery is headed back to Japan for a mandatory rematch with former titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka, Teiken Promotions announced at a news conference on Friday.
Nery and Yamanaka will meet in the main event of the March 1 card at the Ryogoku Sumo Arena in Tokyo. On Aug. 15, in Kyoto, Japan, Nery stopped Yamanaka in the fourth round to win the 118-pound world title. However, Nery (25-0, 19 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw from Mexico, failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered drug test as part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program.
He tested positive for the banned substance zilpaterol in a sample provided on July 27 in Tijuana, Mexico, his hometown, but the result was not known until after the fight.
Nery claimed he had ingested contaminated meat, and after investigating the matter, the WBC issued a ruling in which it said that it believed that the positive test result was indeed a result of food contamination.
While the WBC did not strip Nery of the title, it did order him to give Yamanaka an immediate rematch.
Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19 KOs), 35, had made 12 successful title defenses when he faced Nery and was bidding for No. 13, which would have tied the Japanese record for world title defenses set by Hall of Fame former junior flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken, who established the mark in 1980.
While awaiting the WBC’s ruling, Nery won a nontitle fight on Nov. 4 by knocking out former two-time world title challenger Arthur Villanueva in the sixth round. Now the rematch with Yamanaka is on.
“I’ll regain my belt from Nery with my utmost motivation and dedication,” Yamanaka said in interpreted comments at the news conference. “This time I’m a challenger and will win back the WBC belt.”
The fight in August came to an end when Yamanaka was in trouble on the ropes and his corner threw in the towel. Because Yamanaka felt it was not a definitive knockout loss, he elected to continue his career and pressed for the rematch.
“If I had been effectively knocked out by Luis Nery, with me falling to the canvas, I could have hung my gloves forever, but the result of my defeat in that way does not convince me,” Yamanaka said. “I went into the ring in excellent physical condition. I can not be satisfied with the outcome of that night. I cannot find the reason because I have lost, but I can not think about finishing my career in this way, with a defeat that does not convince me. I am not finished yet. My determination to return to boxing is great, and that is why I will do everything in my power to recover the green-and-gold belt.”
Teiken Promotions also announced a second world title fight for the card. Junior featherweight titlist Ryosuke Iwasa (24-2 16 KOs) will make his first defense when he takes on Ernesto Saulong (21-2-1, 8 KOs). Iwasa, a 28-year-old southpaw from Japan, won the 122-pound world title by sixth-round knockout of countryman Yukinori Oguni on Sept. 13.
Saulong, 28, of the Philippines, has won three fights in a row but will be facing the most significant opponent of his career.