SHINSUKE YAMANAKA’S six-year reign as WBC world bantamweight champion came to a brutal end in Japan earlier today when Mexico’s Luis Nery stopped him inside four rounds.

Making the 13th defence of his title, Yamanaka was also looking to strengthen his position at the top of the division by seeing off mandatory challenger Nery, who had previously never fought outside of his home country.

For the first couple of rounds the 34-year-old seemed to be establishing his jab and finding a rhythm, but Nery, 22, began backing the champion up in the third with solid combinations.

Nery – a southpaw, like Yamanaka – quickly found a home for the straight left hand and began to spin Yamanaka’s head with it as the partisan crowd at the Shimazu Arena in Kyoto became increasingly concerned.

In the fourth, a stiff left hand had Yamanaka in serious trouble and Nery poured in as the home fighter sagged into the ropes. Yamanaka’s corner then entered the ring to pull their man out and referee Michael Griffin waved it off at 2-29 of the round.

Nery, now 24-0(18), had become the No 1 challenger after stoppage wins over Raymond Tabugon and Jesus Martinez.

Yamanaka first won his title back in 2011 when he stopped Christian Esquivel. He went on to beat the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Malcolm Tunacao and Stephane Jamoye. However in recent performances he has failed to impress, hitting the deck on numerous occasions and raising concerns that his time at the top was limited.

Nery proved that to be true and now the unbeaten Mexican has lucrative options ahead of him.