September 24, 2018
Unbeaten enfant terrible Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7 KOs) 112, impressively seized his third WBO belt in his only twelfth bout as he, still 23, positively put on an aggressive performance from the outset, whipped defending champ Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10 KOs), 111.75, and pounded out a majority but well-received decision over twelve hard-fought rounds on Monday in Nagoya, Japan. Zoltan Enyedi (Hungary) and Danrex Tapdasan (Philippines) saw the all-action fight 116-112 and 115-113 both for the challenger, and Donald Trella (US) had it 114-114. The referee was Mark Nelson (US).
Tanaka tied the record of Vasiliy Lomachenko gaining world belts in three categories in fewest bouts in history. Hi-Tech was 11-1 upon his achievement, having suffered the one and only setback at the hand of Orlando Salido in his second pro bout, while Tanaka is 12-0 with no blemish on his career since November 2013.
It must be unanimously Japanfs Fight of the Year since they so furiously exchanged hot rallies until the end. It was Kosei that took the initiative with his opening attack from the first session although he, regarded as an excellent footworker, positively mixed it up with the durable champ without retreating. The second witnessed Tanaka almost topple Kimura with a well-timed countering left hook in the closing seconds.
Kimura, 29, who surprisingly upset two-time Olympic gold medalist and dethroned then WBO titlist Zou Shiming in Shanghai last year, gamely retaliated with a solid shot at a time, but was seemingly outpunched and outspeeded by the more aggressive challenger. Tanaka utilized jabs and penetrated the champfs tight guard with sharp rights to the face followed by solid left hooks to the side of the belly.
Kimura, making his third defense, fought back hard in round five, when he turned loose and threw many left-right combinations to the gallant aggressor, taking a point. As the contest progressed, the champ had the right optic swollen and finally almost closed in the end of the contest.
In rounds eight and nine, Tanaka displayed his trademark lateral footwork, and threw faster combinations to the onrushing champ. Sho attempted to pin Kosei to the ropes or the corner, but Tanaka cleverly utilized his mobility to make himself a moving target.
The last three rounds were highlighted with their tremendous exchanges of strong punches toe-to-toe in the center of the ring. Tanaka a little fading because of his high pace in earlier rounds, Kimura tried to turn the tables with his last surge, but the challenger responded to the champfs hot rallies in the close quarter.
When the total war was over, people praised both combatants with standing ovation since they looked to have consumed all energy in the slugfest. Tanaka also had a swollen right eye after the combat completed, which proved he, on his fight plan, decided to mix it up, rather than fight on the expected hit-and-run strategy.
The newly crowned champ Kosei jubilantly said, gItfs a really unforgettable fight for me. I decided from before the game never to yield on fighting spirit. Please also clap hands for Kimurafs great heart and performance. The good loser Kimura said, gI did my best. Itfs a very hard fight. Tanaka was fast and skillful. I couldnft see well in later rounds, and felt pain on the right hand from the eleventh round on.h Tanakafs manager Kiyoshi Hatanaka, fomer WBC 122-pound champ, review the bout and said, gOur fight plan to stand and fight was successful. Kosei did very well.h
Kosei followed the footsteps of our champions who previously won three belts in as many categories: Koki Kameda (accomplished in 25 fights, in 2010), Jorge Linares (41, 2014), Kazuto Ioka (18, 2015), Akira Yaegashi (28, 2015), Hozumi Hasegawa (41, 2016) and Naoya Inoue (16, 2018).
The current champions in Japan are as follows: 160lbs Ryota Murata (WBA), 130lbs Masayuki Ito (WBO), 118lbs Naoya Inoue (WBA), 112lbs Kosei Tanaka (WBO) and 108lbs Ken Shiro (WBC).
Promoter: Hatanaka Promotions.
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