2018 Fight of the Year – Kosei Tanaka MD12 Sho Kimura
By: Jake Donovan
From early in his career, Japan’s Kosei Tanaka was mentioned in the same breath as countrymen Kazuto Ioka and Naoya Inoue as the type of prodigious talent who warrants your undivided attention whenever he steps into the ring.
A mere 12 fights and three division titles into his career, the 23-year old from Nagoya has not only lived up to the billing but doing so while twice entering the record books. The latter entry—a 12-round majority decision victory over Sho Kimura to win the flyweight title last September—gets to make the rounds as the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Fight of the Year.
Tanaka (12-0, 7KOs) knew better than to expect a clear and easy path to his third major title in as many weight classes. A war with then unbeaten 18-0 Ryuji Hara in just his 4th pro fight was designed to brace the Nagoya-bred boxer for a historic run. His very next fight was a 12-round win over Julian Yedras to win the strawweight title in just his 5th pro fight, surpassing Inoue (six fights) and Ioka (seven) as the quickest in Japan’s history.
By the time he was lined up to face Kimura, he’d already claimed titles in two weight classes and survived the scariest moments of his career. Tanaka—just four months removed from turning back the challenge of then-unbeaten Angel Acosta—twice came off the deck to eventually stop Thailand’s Palangpol CP Freshmart in the 9th round of their Sept. ’17 war, vacating his junior flyweight title soon thereafter.
A win over countryman Kimura would give Tanaka yet another record-breaking achievement, joining Vasiliy Lomachenko in becoming the quickest in boxing history to win titles in three weight divisions. Lomachenko’s off-the-canvas stoppage win of Jorge Linares last May put the Ukrainian wunderkind in the annals of boxing history.
On the surface, Tanaka’s task seemed slightly less daunting. In countryman Kimura, he faced a defending flyweight titlist who was knocked out barely a minute into his pro debut before going unbeaten in his next 20 starts.
Among the lot was a rousing 10th round stoppage of Shiming Zou, a three-time Olympic medalist from China who was also fast tracked to the title stage. Kimura’s win at the time was considered a major upset, although his title reign has proven that the feat was no fluke.
Ironically, no greater proof came than in the 12 rounds of war he was willing to storm through versus Tanaka in his damnest effort to retain his title. The bout was Kimura’s third attempted title defense, having scored stoppage wins over former lineal champ Toshiyuki Igarashi and formidable contender Froilan Saludar leading into the September affair.
Tanaka initiated a slugfest from the start, scoring a barrage of body shots and right uppercuts in hopes of wearing down the defending titlist. There would be no such luck, as Kimura came roaring back after the first two rounds to launch a body attack of his own.
The tactic prompted Tanaka to slightly switch gears, doing his best to create some distance between the two whereas Kimura was determined to force an inside brawl. Both would ultimately have their way, with momentum swaying almost as often as punches were flying.
By the time the epic title fight reached the championship rounds, Kimura’s eyes were nearly swollen shut while Tanaka supported a mouse under his right eye. One last blitz from the challenger seemingly put the fight out of reach, but Kimura wasn’t quite ready to concede his crown.
The 12th round was nothing short of breathtaking, a slam dunk choice for Round of the Year up until Tyson Fury’s inexplicable rise from the canvas after what should’ve been a knockout blow delivered by Deontay Wilder in their heavyweight battle last December in Los Angeles.
Equally as stunning was Kimura’s ability to punch non-stop in the final round of his last fight as a defending titlist. Both boxers were dog tired by the time they touched gloves to start the 12th, but it was Kimura who initiated the action throughout the stanza. Tanaka seemed reserve to return fire only when necessary, but was forced to dig deep to find his own second wind when it was clear that the champ wasn’t about to ease off the gas.
Kimura was fighting on pure will, at one point even punching himself into a circle following a wild swing and a miss. Embodying their spirited affair was a sequence where the two simultaneously threw and landed right hand shots on three straight exchanges.
The final bell came with a two-way sigh of relief and a hearty embrace between the two warriors at ring’s center, where nearly all of the action took place with barely a clinch along the way. Judge Don Trella was stumped to declare a winner, his 114-114 card trumped by that of scores of 116-112 and 115-113 in favor of Tanaka.
With the win, Tanaka joined Lomachenko as the quickest in history to become a three-division champion. At 23 years of age, he was the third youngest ever to do so, right behind Tony Canzoneri and Wilfred Benitez.
Lomachenko led arguably the greatest amateur career ever while considered by many as pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world today. Canzoneri and Benitez have long ago gained enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
That’s already some incredible company for Tanaka to serve alongside, in addition to career-long comparisons to countrymen Inoue and Ioka, both of whom became three-division titlists a little bit deeper into their respective careers.
On September 24, he enjoyed some incredible in-ring company with Kimura—a historic night properly recognized by BoxingInsider.com as 2018 Fight of the Year.
Weekly Round Up Around the World
Weekly Round Up Around the World
By: Ben Underwood
MAKABU RECIEVES AWARD
After Llunga Makabu’s devastating loss to Tony Bellew in liverpool,England last weekend, he has recieved the Golden Gloves Africa 2016 award on June 4th for being one of the top cruiserweights in the world.Even though Makabu lost his first title shot ,he is still touted to become a world champion and this award shows that he is embraced by Africa.
LARRY EKUNDAYO INJURED
Talented Nigerian Larry ‘The natural’ Ekundayo was all set to defend his African Union welterweight title against Tanzanian Saidi Mundi on the 4th of June at London’s famous York Hall, Bethnal green. Unbeaten Ekundayo unfortunately has a serious hand injury that he recieved during training ,in which the fight has to be postponed and rescheduled for later in the year.
Ekundayo won the vacated belt by outpointing Joseph lamptey in october of 2015. The other title he has lifted is the Prizefighter trophy in 2012.
KOSEKI VACATES WBA MINIMUMWEIGHT CROWN
Talented Japanese icon Momo Koseki has given up her WBA crown that she won by outpointing Ayaka Miyao in october. Koseki will continue to defend her WBC title and also looking to expand her Japanese record setting 16 defenses of the belt.Momo’s next bout will be announced shortly. Koseki has a record of 21-2-1,7 KO’s.
OKADA DEFENDS TITLE IN JULY
As I reported a few weeks ago that Suyon Takayama will challenge for Jack Brubakers OPBF welterweight belt on July 25th, another title fight will be added to the bill,this will be a bout for the Japanese Junior Welterweight belt held by Hiroki Okada.Japanese-Brazilian Cristano Aoqui is his opponent and with a win will extend his unbeaten record to 13-0 and will possibly set him up for an OPBF title shot.
Aoqui has been awarded this fight off the back of a thrilling win over Ryosuke Takami, Aoqui will be looking to win his first Japanese title. Cristano was once touted to fight Takayama up at welterweight but it seems the lower weight is the better option for him.
KAZUKI TANAKA WILL FIGHT SAKAMOTO
At the EDION Arena Osaka, Kuzuki Tanaka (5-0,4 KO’s) will be taking a massive step up in class when he takes on Japanese ranked Hideo Sakamoto. On paper this is a mouth watering clash which sees Sakamoto coming off a stoppage loss to Kentaro Masudo ,the Japanese champion and will be looking to get back into winning ways and will almost certainly come to fight.
The supporting bout will see Fuko Komura making her debut as a professional in a 4 rounder against limited Koari Nagai (0-1). This looks to be an easy bout for the school girl Komura ,but it is the chief support on the bill and could perhaps be more competitive than people think. the show will take place on august 7th.
WAKE VS GUZMAN DOUBLE HEADER WITH IOKA VS LARA
On July 20th at the EDION Arena it was leaked that Kazuto Ioka (19-1, 11) will be defending his WBA Flyweight title against Nicaraguan Keyvin Lara (18-1-1,6 KO’s). This will be Lara’s first voyage into a world title fight and will be looking to take home the belt that Ioka won from Juan Carlos Reveco via a majority decision and retained it in a rematch by TKO. It must be noted though Lara looks to be up against it as Ioka is a former minumumweight world title holder (WBC and WBA), a Light Flyweight world champion (WBA) and after a split decision loss to Amnat Ruenroeng for the IBF Flyweight bauble came the Reveco fight that made him a 3 weight world champion.
The other title fight on the card shows Shingo Wake (20-4-2, 12) go head to head with unbeaten Jonathan Guzman ,who has 21 vicories all inside the distance with 1 draw, for the vacant IBF Super Bantamweight title. Southpaw Wake of Tokyo, is former OPBF champion will have to have his witts about him as Guzman’s record suggests that he is obviously a banger. This bout is the co-feature and has been said to be in the negotiation phase for several weeks.
Also on the card Takahiro Yamamoto will be defending his OPBF belt against Filipino Rex Wao. Rex (11-2,9 KO’s) has lost 2 of his last 3 and surely needs to make a statement to keep his career alive.
Junior Middleweight Yuki Nonaka (29-8-3, 9 KO’s) will also be defending his Japanese title against Ryosuke Maruki (12-3-1,7 KO’s)that he won in a bout with Kengo Nagashima for the vacant title in 2014.
SHIMIZU DITCHES THE VEST
There has been much speculation over the career of London 2012 bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu. Within the next 2 weeks it is said that Shimizu will end his career in the unpaid ranks and will be turning professional with the Ohashi stable of talented fighters.It is believed that Satoshi is looking to face top opponents fairly quickly as he has not really got time on his side having turned 30. The Amatuer stand out has a good relationship with the Japanese amatuer body and will be welcome back to the amatuers should he ever want to return. The announcement will be between June 10th and June 15th and we will look to see him out before the end of the year.
MARUTA IN BID FOR WBC YOUTH TITLE
Hinata Maruta has been fast tracked to his first title bid when he comes up against fellow unbeaten Wilbert Berondo in a 10 rounder for the WBC youth title at the Sumiyoshi Ward Centre on 31st July.Maruta is a big prospect and is expected to quickly work his way to world contension and this is a step in the right direction. Having only his 3rd fight with 1 stoppage Maruta is a heavy favourite to win the title but little is known about his Filipino opponent. Berondo has wins over Ricky Oyan and Arjet Caballes and he made his debut in 2014,nevertheless any unbeaten fighter will want to remain unbeaten and with 53 rounds under his belt is vastly more experienced than Hinata with a record of 10-0,4 KO’s.
KANEKO,SUEYOSHI AND OTO ALL VICTORIOUS
Records can be decieving as Daiki Kaneko a loser of 3 of his last 6 came out a deserved winner against Ribo Takahata at the Korakuen Hall via a 10 round decision (98-91 on all cards). While Kaneko was seeking a knockout throughout the fight the old tale came true ‘when you go looking for a knockout ,it never come’,and for his efforts Daiki had to settle for the decision. Now Kaneko can improve to 23-5-3, 15 KO’s ,while Takahata slumps to 12-7-1,4 KO’s.
In a minor upset Masaru Sueyoshi (12-1, 7 KO’s) recorded his 9th win in a row by outpointing Shingo Eto (17-5-1, 9 KO’s)as he stepped up in class to claim a hard fought 8 round decision with scores of 77-75,78-75, 78-74. Although many of the rounds were hard to score ,the right man was victorious.
Kenji Ono scored an 8th round stoppage over Takumi Suda ,which may mark a step towards the Japanese title. Ono (11-1,6 KO’s) is a very exciting fighter and he did not disappoint as his talent was shining through and was simply too much for Suda who now has an a record of 12-12-2, 3 KO’s.
HASEGAWA TO FACE HUGO RUIZ
Japans 2 -weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa will make an attempt to become a 3-weight world titlist as he is set to take on WBC Super bantamweight champion Hugo Ruiz in Japan.There is no date set for the fight ,but it is rumoured to take place either in August or September . Hasegawa (35-5, 15 KO’s) is looking to impress in his home town and a win could make him a bigger icon than he already is and put him up there with the greats.
VIJENDER SINGH TO FIGHT KERRY HOPE
Indian superstar Vijender Sing is looking to extend his unbeaten record to 7 when he faces former European champion Kerry hope of wales for the WBO Asia Pacific Super middleweight title.Hope is fighting for the first time as a Super middle and has portrayed himself as the bad guy and has made it crystal clear that he is not there to make up the numbers. This marks Singh’s first bout in India having fought exclusively in Britain and the Republic of Ireland. the fight will take place at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on July 16th.
RICHIE WINS OPBF BELT IN STYLE
Hikaru Nishida was confused and had no answer for the skills of Aussie Dwight Richie as he lost a lop-sided decision with scores of 118-110 on two cards and 119-109 on the other. For the first four rounds Nishida trying to pressure Richie but the speed of his light hitting opponent left him frustrated and while he had some success in the 6th round, it seemed to be a masterclass from the Australian. Nishida didnt have a plan B and Richie was the boss throughout the bout to run out the winner . Dwight improves to 14-0-0-4 with 1 KO and also claims the OPBF title in his first bout outside of his native Australia ,while Nishida is now 15-8-1,7 KO’s and is still the Japanese champion. Hikaru will defend his title in September
Asian Weekly Round Up
ASIAN WEEKLY ROUND UP
By: Ben Underwood
HYUN MI CHOI WINS WBF SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT BELT
Korean favourite Hyun Mi Choi added yet another title to her ever growing trophy cabinet by outpointing tough South African Unathi Myekeni.Choi who is unbeaten in 13 with one draw, has won WBA titles at both Featherwight and Super featherweight and this was billed originally as a WBA title fight but only seemed to be for the WBF which was vacated.
Choi boxed well throughout keeping Myekeni at bay to comfortably win by unaminous decision with scores of 100-91,99-92 and 98-93 ,But Myekeni certainly showed how tough she was and was game throughout the contest.
KANO VS TAKAYAMA FOR WBO MINIMUM BELT
Japanese prospect and highly talented teenager Riku Kano has come fresh off of an impressive win over former world champion Merlito Sabillo of the Philippines and winning the OPBF interim title in the process. Not even a month has passed since that win and it has been announced that Kano will now take on 3-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (30-8-0-1, 12KO’s) for the WBO belt.
This is an opportunity for Kano (10-1-1, 5KO’s) to make history in becoming the youngest ever Japanese world champion at 18 years,4 months and 4 days. This would surpass Hiroki Ioka when he won the WBC Minimumweight title from Mai Thomburifarm at 18 years, 9 months and 10 days in 1987.
The bout was announced at a press conference in Hyogo to be taken place on 20th August at the Komagatani sports park,sanda,Hyogo.
A lot can happen in 11 months ,especially if you are a man on a mission. Following a controversial unaminous decision to Amnat Ruenroeng, John Riel Casimero was that man on a mission on wednesday night at the Diamond Stadium in Beijing,China.Undefeated Ruenroeng was 11-0 as a professional and a former Olympian.He was very well known in China ,especially after beating popular fellow Olympian Zou Shiming.
During the opening two rounds the action was almost non-existant as if they were feeling each other out.In the third they both started to up the pace as Ruenroeng was frequently jabbing to both head and body,then a left hook caught Casimiro and sent him to the canvas, but the referee ruled it a slip.
Nobody expected the events of the fourth round to take place and with devastating effect as Ruenroeng decided to go through the gears and change the pace. As the Thai came in trying to land a combination, he was read by Casimero and a monsterous left counter hook sent him crashing to down. Ruenroeng was visibly hurt as he just managed to beat the count ,but the Filipino smelled blood and went in for the kill. Ruenroeing was trying to survive but as he held his hands high, Casimiro saw the body and zeroed in. After a combination to the head ,a savage left hook landed in the liver of Amnat and winched in pain as he sank to the floor for the full count of 10,losing his IBF title in the process.The new champion now has a record of 23-3.
On the undercard Chao Zhong Xiong had Jose Jimenez hurt in the first round but as time went on Xiong began to look clumsy. Jimenez managed to get home with a majority decision and is now the mandatory to the IBF minimumweight champion Jose Argumedo. Jimenez improves to 17-5-1, 7 KO’s ,Xiong drops to 26-7-1,14 KO’s. Scores were 116-111 Xiong ,114-113 twice for Jimenez.
Thai former world champion Tor Buamas was clearly outboxed and outthought by China’s Zong Ju Cai over 10 rounds in an IBF female Minimumweight title eliminator. Buamas has so much experience in the ring ,but seemed to be confused by Cai’s basic style and movement. Cai landed jabs and combinations to run out a near flawless winner with score of 100-90 and 99-91 twice. Now Cai is the manadory to japans etsuko Tada’s IBF title.
Chinese Olympian Fanlong Meng stayed unbeaten and twice floored Australian Rob Powdrill to earn a stoppage in the fourth round. Meng literally broke down the Australian hard man with the volume of clean shots he threw and was rescued in by the referee at 1:23 of the fourth. Meng is 7-0,5 KO’s and Powdrill is 6-3, 1KO.
Zi Jie Shang lost only his second fight when he fought former Super Bantamweight Wulan Tuolehazi .The fight was made at Lightweight and despite Shang being a natural lightweight, Tuolehazi gritted his teeth and toughed out a majority decision to even out his record which now stands at 1-1. scores were 57-57,59-55 twice.
KOKI INOUE AND SATOSHI HOSONO BACK IN ACTION IN KOREA
June 26th is the date where two of the Ohashi stable fighters will be in action . Hot prospect Koki Inoue will look to improve his three fight unbeaten streak where as rumour has it,may take on Korean Hyun Woo Yuh 5-1, 5KO’s.
Satoshi Hosono is the other fighter who ia said to be having a bout in a non-title affair . Hosono is the Japanese Featherweight champion there is no comment on who the opponent will be, but it can only be a good thing that Hosono stays busy.
SHIRO DEFENDS TITLE ON AUGUST 7TH
Light flyweight Japanese champion Ken Shiro will be defending his title against Toshimasa Ouchi ,who is a one time Japanese title challenger who fought Masayuki Kuroda to a draw for the title.Shiro is highly thought of with a record of 7-0, 4KO’s and is also highly ranked by the OPBF and infact this could be for the vacant title as Jonathan Taconing is bidding for a world title.
HIDENORI OTAKE BACK IN THE RING
Former world title challenger Hidenori otake will take on Hernan Cortez of Panama,who is a former WBC FECARBOX champion at Super Flyweight . This looks like an easy fight for Otake with Cortez losing three of his last six with one draw,nethertheless this looks to be a step up in class since losing a title fight to Scott Quigg 2 years ago.The fight will take place at the Korakuen hall in Tokyo.
TANAKA HALTS PATILANO
Kosei Tanaka had one eye on a title fight when he made easy work of IBF rated Filipino Rene Patilano as he dominated his way to count of 10 in the 6th round .This was Tanaka’s first fight since giving up his Minumumweight title to move up to 108lbs. Tanaka looked better not having to boil down to the sports lightest division and was sharp and powerful in dismantling Patilano.
This could be a step in a the right direction and seriously made a statement to Ryoichi Taguchi the WBA champion and will possibly get the fight after the performance he put on. Look for the fight to be made for late 2016.