With the recent news that Kosei Tanaka (3-0, 1) would be fighting Ryuji Hara (18-0, 10) for the OPBF Minimumweight title we got a little bit excited by the idea that Tanaka is likely to challenge for a world title in just his 5th bout, if he gets past Hara. If Tanaka managed to get past Hara and then win a world title in his very next fight he would set a Japanese record for the fewest fights to a world title. The question however is how would he compare to other Asian fighters?
Saensak Muangsurin (3rd fight & 7th fight)
The tied world record for fewest fights to a world title is Thailand's Saensak Muangsurin who claimed the WBC Light Welterweight title in just his 3rd bout when he stopped Perico Fernandez in 8 rounds. This bout, way back in 1975, set an almost unmatchable standard for becoming a world champion and it was more than 30 years later until Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko finally managed to tie this record.
Muangsurin was 24 at the time and had had a long and successful career in Muay Thai, in fact he was one of the the top Muay Thai fighters of his era and used that experience to help him on his fast track to the top. Unfortunately Muangsurin's reign was short lived and he lost the title in just his 6th professional bout after making just a single defence of the belt.
Although Muangsurin lost his title in his 6th bout he did regain it a fight later meaning he was a 2-time champion after just 7 fights an amazing achievement that is unlikely to be matched by any other fghter.
Veeraphol Sahaprom (4th fight)
Another of the quickest men to a world title was another Thai Veeraphol Sahaprom who won the WBA Bantamweight title in just his 4th professional contest. Veeraphol, like Muangsurin, was a former Muay Thai fighter who transitioned to boxing with immediate success and won an international title on debut and a world title just 9 months later making him one of the quickest fighters to a world title in both time and fights.
Sahaprom over-came domestic foe Daorung Chuwatana via a narrow split decision to win his first world title and although he lost the belt in his first defence, being stopped in 2 rounds by Nana Yaw Konadu, he would later become the WBC Bantamweight champion and score notable wins over Joichiro Tatsuyoshi and Toshiaki Nishioka.
At the time of his win over in Chuwatana in 1995 for his first world title Sahaprom was just 26 years old, he would continue fighting until 2010 retiring for good at the the age of 41 and establishing himself as one of the great modern day Thai's.
Naoya Inoue (6th fight)
The Japanese record for fewest fights to a world title is held by current WBC Light Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue who won a world title earlier this year with a stoppage victory over the much more experienced Adrian Hernandez. Going in to this bout Inoue was the favourite and was highly regarded as a once in a generation fighter with skills so advanced that many had tipped him as a future world champion from his debut. The rise of Inoue's saw him winning a Japanese title in his 4th bout and an OPBF title in his 5th bout.
Dubbed "Monster" Inoue will be making his first defence this coming Friday when he takes on Samartlek Kokietgym. If Inoue is successful against Samartlek the odds are he will be moving up a weight in an attempt to become a 2-weight world champion within 10 fights, that would be another record we can't imagine many fighters ever beating.
Having only turned professional in 2012 it took Inoue just 18 months to become a world champion, another Japanese record that Tanaka will be chasing.
Kazuto Ioka (7th fight)
Inoue, see above, broke a previous Japanese record when he beat Kazuto Ioka's record of 7 fights. Ioka, who won the WBC Minimumweight title back in 2011 with a 5th round TKO victory over Thailand's Oleydong Sithsamerchai. Ioka had claimed the Japanese title a fight earlier and stepped up big time to beat Oleydong though some did question whether or not the Thai was struggling at the weight. Whether Oleydong was killing himself to make 105lbs or not is immaterial to the fact Ioka was still a complete professional novice.
Following his quick rise to his first world title Ioka has managed to unify belts, in just his 10th bout, and then became a 2-weight world champion in just his 11th professional bout. Ioka did however fail in an attempt to become a 3-weight world champion in his 15th fight, losing to Amnat Ruenroeng.
Ioka begins his climb back following his first loss on September 16th when he fights Pablo Carillo.
Muangchai Kittikasem (7th fight)
Prior to Ioka's there was several other men who world titles in their 7th professional bouts. One of them was Thailand's Muangchai Kittikasem who claimed the IBF Flyweight title with a split decision win over Filipino fighter Tacy Macalos, who was making the first defence of his title.
Like the other Thai's listed here Kittikasem was a former Muay Thai star who turned to boxing, and like the others he had a very successful career. Not only did he win a world title in just his 7th professional bout but he later went on to become a 2-weight world champion when he won the WBC Flyweight title in just his 15th professional fight. In just 29 fights Kittikasem fought 11 world title bouts in a career that lasted less than 11 years in total.
Sung-Kil Moon (7th fight)
A third fighter who won his first world title in his 7th fight was South Korean Sung-Kil Moon who claimed the WBA Bantamweight title with a technical decision win over Khaokor Galaxy after just 17 months as a professional. Moon would twice defend the belt before losing it back to Galaxy 11 months later.
Just 6 months after losing his first title Moon became a 2-weight world champion by defeating Nana Yaw Konadu for the WBC Super Flyweight title making him one of the few fighters to drop down in weight to become a multi-weight world champion.
Moon's 22 fight career lasted little more than 6 years though he was a 2-weight world champion with a stunning 15 world title fights. A genuinely amazing career that may not have lasted long though was incredible all the same.
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When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features