Today Tanaka began his pursuit of a third divisional world title as he took on Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (10-1-1, 7) and gave the visitor his first defeat, stopping him in the 9th round of a fairly one-sided contest.
Tanaka looked to control the distance early on, using his speed and jab though was clearly cautious of Baldonado's dangerous power shots. As the bout went on though Tanaka became more aggressive, bullying Baldonado on to the ropes in round 3, and dropping him with a series of body shots in round 4. Baldonado was clearly in pain from the body assault but showed his toughness to beat the count, and get saved by the bell.
To his credit the Filipino gritted his teeth and looked to turn the fight around from rounds 5 and 6 as he showed his resolve. That however wasn't enough and in round 9 Tanaka again found the place for his body shots and badly hurt Baldonado, with the referee saving the Filipino.
After the fight Tanaka and WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura has some friendly words and it's clear that Tanaka is wanting to fight for a Flyweight title next time out,. On this performance he looks ready and like he has developed into a Flyweight well, but Kimura will be a much tougher tests than Baldonado was here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)