Later this month we'll see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) [木村翔] facing off with mandatory challenger Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) [田中恒成]. For Kimura the bout is a chance to score a 3rd defense and to really build his reputation, following a string of good wins just not yet an outstanding one. On the other hand a win for Tanaka would see him becoming a 3-weight world champion in just 12 bouts, tying the record of Vasyl Lomachenko.
Today Tanaka took part in a public work out at the Hatanaka gym under the watchful eye of promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka.
The work saw Tanaka speak to the media, stating that his condition is good and that he was nervous for the all-Japanese world title fight. Both Tanaka and Hatanaka seemed to be aware that the bout will pit Tanaka's incredible speed and skills against Kimura's stamina and toughness. Tanaka himself stated that the resulted depended on whether Kimura would break his heart or not, and it's clear that the youngster knows he will be pushed harder than ever.
At today's work out Tanaka sparred for 4 rounds with former foe Ronnie Baldonado (12-1-1, 9), and looked really sharp in the spar. It's clear that their bout earlier this year saw both men build mutual respect and Baldonado is being used as a virtual Kimura to help Tanaka prepare for the next 10 days or so.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last few years we have seen Japanese fighters put on the fast track to success, with a number of Japanese youngsters racing their way to titles and notable victories. One of the most notable of those is former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) [田中恒成], who became a world champion 5th fight and a 2 weight champion in his 8th.
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)
Tomorrow sees the ring return of former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] as he takes on unbeaten Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7). Today the two men weighed in for the bout, which will be Tanaka's first as a Flyweight.
On the scales the former world champion was 112lbs and looked in great shape for his first bout at the new weight, and his first bout since suffering serious injuries last September against Palangpol CP Freshmart. That bout against Palangpol saw Tanaka suffer injuries to both eyes and he will need to answer some questions in regards to how he takes a shot around the eyes, and whether he will suffer from the injuries reoccuring.
A confident Baldonado was slightly lighter, coming in at 111.5lbs, but also looked in great shape for the bout. He'll be risking his #12 WBO ranking, though if he wins he'll shoot up the rankings given that Tanaka enters the bout ranked #1. Interestingly this will be his third successuve bout on the road, following back to back bouts in China against Ma Yiming and Iwan Zoda, both of whom he stopped.
The winner of this bout is likely to begin a pursuit of WBO champion Sho Kimura, and could well find themselves in a bout with Kimura this coming summer.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Lat week there was a press conference held to announce that former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] would be facing Filipino fighter Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7) on March 31st. At the time we knew that not only was Tanaka returning on the show, fighting for the first time since suffering two eye injuries in September, but also Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) [田中 裕士] and Kento Hatanaka (4-0, 4) [畑中 建人].
Over the last day or so we've seen more details from the card being released, along with the show's poster.
We now know that Hatanaka will battle against former Japanese title challenger Kenta Matsui (8-7, 1) [松井謙太], who will be fighting for the first time since his December loss to the then Japanese Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi. This is a big step up in class for the 19 year old, who hasn't really been challenged since his debut back in November 2016, fighting only a combined 10 rounds. Although a step up he should still be favoured to beat Matsui, despite Matsui's 2016 win over Rikito Hatrtori and 2017 upset win over Genki Hanai.
As for Yushi Tanaka his opponent has been named as Jinya Ito (6-3-1, 1) [伊藤仁也]. Tanaka has twice fought for Japanese titles, losing to both Kentaro Masuda and Ryo Akaho, but came up short in both of those title bouts. Since losing to Akaho last year Tanaka has notched up two wins and is one his way to getting another title fight. As for Ito he has scored back to back wins, but has gone 2-3 in his last 5 and certainly looks a less than challenging opponent for Tanaka.
It should be noted that former Japanese Featherweight champion Shota Hayashi (30-7-1, 18) [林翔太] is featured on the poster. He won't actually be in action as his appearance on the card will be a retirement ceremony, as he walks away from active fighting following recent losses to to Kosuke Saka and Mark Magsayo.
Last week we reported that former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] would be returning to the ring on March 31st to battle against unbeaten Filipino fighter Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7). Today that bout was announced, with Tanaka holding a press conference in Nagoya, along with his team from the Hatanaka gym.
The bout will take place at Flyweight and will be Tanaka's first Flyweight bout, and his first bout since last September when he suffered two eye injuries against Palangpol CP Freshmart. Although those injuries were from being hit in the face Tanaka had put them, at least in part, down to weight loss and the ill effects of weight loss on his performance.
The former world champion has scouted his foe and is full aware that Baldonado is an energetic puncher, who will be looking to stop Tanaka. The Japanese vighter stated their was some unease at facing such a fighter, given the injuries, but he seems to be aware that that unease should improve his over-all performance and concentration.
Reports from this morning's press conference is that the contest will be aired on CBC, live from 4PM local time, and the card will feature Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) [田中 裕士] and Kento Hatanaka (4-0, 4) [畑中 建人], though neither of those bouts are expected to get live television coverage.
(Image courtesy of boxmo.jp)
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