Back in late June we saw former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (17-1, 10) [田中恒成] claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, with a stoppage win over Masayoshi Hashizume (19-1-2, 11) [橋詰 将義] at Korakuen Hall. At the time it was expected that Tanaka wouldn't hold the title long, instead using it to focus on pursuing a 4th world title.
Today it was confirmed that Tanaka was indeed not looking to have a long reign with the regional title, vacating it earlier today, to focus on getting a world title fight. At the time of writing he is ranked in the top 10 by 3 of the 4 world title bodies, and will be sniffing around a shot at either the WBO, WBC or IBF titles, with the WBA inexplicably not ranking Tanaka at the time of writing.
Whilst Tanaka's intention of getting a world title fight at 115lbs is obvious, what is less clear is who will be looking to fill the vacancy. At the time of writing Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (22-4-1, 12) [中川健太] is the top ranked challenger, with Andrew Moloney (24-2, 16) being ranked #2 and Donnie Nietes (43-2-6, 23) being ranked #3, opening the doors to some very interesting potential bouts to fill the void left by Tanaka's decision.
Earlier today Korakeun Hall played host to the latest Ohashi Promoted event, which featured a number of notable bouts, including two title bouts, the debut of a former amateur stand out and the latest bout of a highly touted young prospect.
The first of the notable bouts on the show saw talented former amateur standout Taiga Imanaga (1-0, 1) [今永 虎雅] make a successful debut, as he stopped Takahiro Hamazaki (4-9-3, 1) [浜崎 隆広] in 2 rounds. Imanaga, who won 10 amateur titles before making his debut, looked razor sharp in the opening round, setting a good pace in the opening round, before increasing the pressure in round 2 and scoring 2 knockdowns before Hamazaki's saved their man. It's early days for Imanaga, but on the back of this performance he is a special talent, who can go a very, very long way.
After the expected win from Imanaga we then got a notable upset as 36 year old Hisashi Kato (11-10-2, 7) [加藤 寿] scored a shock 2nd round TKO win over Rikuto Adachi (16-4, 12) [安達 陸虎]. Coming in Adachi was ranked #6 by the JB, but that ranking looked very over inflated early in round 2, when he was dropped from a straight left hand. He recovered to his feet, by was down again just moments later as with the bout being stopped. Notably this win will earn Kato a Japanese ranking, and allow him to continue his career past the typical Japanese retirement age of 37, with the win essentially saving his career.
After back to back blow outs there was hope we would see a bout go some rounds. No one 22 year old Keisuke Matsumoto (5-0, 5) [松本 圭佑], who took just 42 seconds to blast out Thai visitor Nakharin Hangyu (4-2, 2). The Thai was put in to the corner early in the round, and took a beating there until the referee finally stepped in and waved off the bout.
The first of the show's two title bouts saw Yasuhiro Kanzaki (8-2-1, 2) [神崎靖浩] scores his biggest win to date, as he took an 8 round decision over Yoshiki Minato (10-6, 5)[湊義生] to claim the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. The bout saw Minato start aggressively and try to pressure Kanzaki, who fought well as a counter puncher, putting together some really nice shots through the guard of Minato. Minato seemed to become more determined to press after that, but continued to be countered by the cleaner, more accurate and sharp shots of Kanzaki, who seemed the smarter more polished fighter through the bout. After 8 rounds we went to the scorecards, which were 78-74, 78-74 and 77-75 to Kanzaki, who claims his first professional title.
The main event saw former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (17-1, 10) [田中恒成] score an impressive win and claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he stopped Masayoshi Hashizume (19-1-2, 11) [橋詰 将義] in 5 rounds. Hashizume has some success early on, whilst Tanaka looked to get a read on what was in front of him. After 2 rounds it seemed that Tanaka fully understood what he was up against, and in round 3 he began to press forward more, letting his lands go late in the round. The offensive work of Tanaka grew in round 4, as he intelligently pressed and pressured Hashizume, landing good body shots through the round. It was clear Tanaka was in control and Hashizume was levels below Tanaka, and in round started to really put it on his man, cutting him around the right eye, with a hard straight left hand, before pinning him on the ropes and unloading until the referee stepped in and waved off the bout.
After the contest Tanaka revealed that he is looking to target bouts for either the WBO or the IBF Super Flyweight titles, though his promoter admitted that such a bout might not happen until next year.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (16-1, 9) [田中恒成] return to the ring as he challenges Masayoshi Hashizume (19-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義], for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Today, ahead of their bout the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest.
On the scales Tanaka was 114.8lbs and looked in great shape, in fact he said it was the best he'd been in, and explained that he wanted to show that people who are world champions have different abilities, as if he was going to completely dominate the defending regional champion. He also suggested that this will be his final bout before getting another world title fight, as he looks to become a 4-weight world champion later in the year.
As for Hashizume, he was bang on the 115lb weight limit, and he looked the bigger man, though that should be little surprise given he's a natural Super Flyweight whilst Tanaka is a former Light Flyweight. He spoke like a man determined to retain his title and move towards bigger and better bouts of his own in the future.
A second title bout on this card will see Yasuhiro Kanzaki (7-2-1, 2) [神崎靖浩] and Yoshiki Minato (10-5, 5)[湊義生] clash for the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. On the scales Minato came in at 114.8lbs, whilst Kanzaki was exactly 115lbs.
Tanaka challenges regional champion Hashizume!
Minato and Kanzaki battle for Japanese Youth title
Earlier today it was announced that we would see former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (16-1, 9) [田中恒成] return to the ring on June 29th, as he challenges OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight champion Masayoshi Hashizume (19-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義], with two men battling for the Hashizume's WBO Asia Pacific title.
The bout will take place at Korakuen Hall, as Tanaka returns to the hallowed venue for the first time since his 2014 win over Ryuji Hara, a win that saw him claim the OPBF Minimumweight title, and made fans really sit up and take note of him. That was just his third professional bout. Since then, he has gone on to win world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight and Flyweight, and challenge for the WBO Super Flyweight title, losing to Kazuto Ioka in 2020.
Interesting this will also be the third successive bout that Ioka will have against either a current, or former, Ioka Gym fighter. Having lost to Ioka at the end of 2020, beaten Sho Ishida in 2021, and now facing Hashizume.
As for Hashizume this will be his first defense of the title he won earlier this year, when he beat Akio Furutani in a very competitive bout. A win for him here would open the door for him to potentially fight for a world title. This is, quite clearly, a huge step up in class for him, but a win would give his career a massive boost, and really push his career along. Interestingly his OPBF title isn't up for grabs here, though no reason was made clear in the announcement of the bout
Much like Tanaka's previous bout at Korakuen Hall, this will come on a Hideyuki Ohashi promoted card, with the show being held under the Phoenix Battle banner. The card will also feature a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight bout, as Yasuhiro Kanzaki (7-2-1, 2) [神崎靖浩] takes on Yoshiki Minato (10-5, 5)[湊義生] for the vacant title, in what should be a genuine barn burner.
Others scheduled for this card include former amateur standout Toramasa Imanaga (0-0) [今永虎雅] and teenage hopeful Kenta Yamakawa (0-0) [山川健太], who will both be debuting in scheduled 6 rounders.
For fans in Japan wanting to watch this show, it will be aired on Hikari TV in Japan.
At the end of 2020 we saw former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (16-1, 9) [田中恒成] suffer his first professional loss, as he was stopped by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka [井岡一翔] in one of the final bouts of the year.
Today, almost a year after that loss, Tanaka returned to the ring and as he has through his career, he didn't take on an easy opponent, instead facing former world title challenger Sho Ishida (29-3, 15) [石田 匠] in what was being dubbed a "Survival Match" in Japan. A bout that neither man could afford to lose.
Unsurprisingly both men fought like a loss could be the end of their days as a top contender.
From the off this was a technical battle, with both men relying on their boxing skills, their straight punches and jabs. Unfortunately for Tanaka that was probably the wrong fight for him, as Ishida was the much taller, longer, rangier man, and Tanaka began to look to get inside in round 2, something that saw him on the wrong end of Ishida's uppercuts. Thankfully for Tanaka's chances he began to tighten up his guard, approach with more spring and determination and used feints to get inside in round 3, where he began to work the body of Ishida and also managed to leave him with a bloodied nose in round 4.
Sensing his early momentum had faded Ishida began to get more aggressive, using his jab to set up combinations, whilst Tanaka continued to dig the body, which resulted in a blistering round 5.
In the second half of the fight it seemed Tanaka was getting the better of things, getting close and working inside on Ishida, though to his credit Ishida also had plenty of moments, particularly in round 8, as his size and awkwardness allowed him to tag Tanaka as he came inside. The final rounds were sensational work, with both having sustained success. Tanaka was the aggressor, but once again the clean, eye catching, jabs and straight shots from Ishida weren't east to ignore, and he was definitely catching the eye of the judges.
After 10 rounds the judges had this incredibly close, scoring 96-94, 94-96 and 96-94, to give Tanaka a split decision win.
After the bout Tanaka spoke to the fans and explained "Sho Ishida is so strong that I was able to enjoy the match like this thanks to Ishida. I beat Ishida, so I have no choice but to go to the world. 2-1 Judgment I'm not satisfied with the content at all, but it's the first time I've ringed in with a smile and played a match with a smile. I enjoyed the match, "
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