For “Remarkable Rounds” our idea has always been to try and mix well known rounds with some less well known ones. This week we look at one of the more well known rounds in recent memory, and it was a round that left many fans becoming huge fans of both men, and amazingly came in the final round of a world title fight, following 11 other really good rounds.
We also have a personal affinity to the fight as it’s one we helped fans see as we worked alongside CBC in building attention to the bout, which ended up being an instant classic, and one of, if not the, best fights of 2018!
Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) Vs Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7)
For this round we go back to September 2018 when Sho Kimura was defending the WBO Flyweight title against unbeaten sensation Kosei Tanaka. On paper the two men could hardly be more different.
In one corner was the underrated Sho Kimura, who had won the WBO Flyweight title in a massive upset in China in 2017. Prior to winning the world title Kimura was pretty much an unknown fighter, with even those in Japan not really being familiar with him. His title win came in a huge shock against Chinese star Zou Shiming, and almost immediately the Chinese fans took Kimura as one of their own. After winning the title he had made two defenses, stopping Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar, before taking on fast rising countryman Kosei Tanaka.
At this point in his career Tanaka was well regarded by hardcore fans, who had seen him winning world titles at Minimumweight and Light Flyweight in his first 8 bouts. Despite only having 11 bouts coming into this bout with Kimura he had already proven himself with wins against the likes of Ryuji Hara, Julian Yedras, Vic Saludar, Moises Fuentes and Angel Acosta. Although not a huge name across Japan he was a star in the Chubu region, and CBC were looking to help build him into a bigger star.
Kimura had turned professional with no fanfare or buzz. He had lost in his debut and had pretty much rebuilt himself afterwards, doing so without any sort of notable publicity. He had just gritted his teeth, improved, and slowly built a reputation as a tough guy with limitless energy. He had no major amateur background, he had no big backing and no TV behind him. Instead he had to grind for every bit of success. He was more of a fighter than a boxer.
Tanaka on the other hand was a former amateur standout. He had turned professional to notable publicity in Chubu, and his career was documented from when he was an amateur right up to this bout. He had been treated like a special fighter, with CBC in Nagoya backing him from the off. He was, for all intents, Chubu’s answer to Naoya Inoue, and like Inoue he was deemed a sensational young fighter, with the ability to be a true national star down the line. He was all about speed, skills, and his very solid amateur pedigree. He was a boxer, albeit one with a warrior’s mentality and heart.
The first 11 rounds of this bout were brilliant. Both men had shown what was in their locker, both men had asked massive questions of the other and both had brought the best out of the other man. They had given us 11 amazing rounds. Yet the best was yet to come.
From the opening seconds of the round the two men went up close with Kimura unloading a flurry, then Tanaka came back, Kimura wasn’t to be denied and continued pressing and seemed to be bossing the round until Tanaka came back at him, showing what he could do. Then the two men each tried to exchange big right hands before we were again into a war of wills up close. In this, lengthy, back and forth, Kimura seemed to take the early advantage and certainly out threw Tanaka but was backed up by the cleaner, harder shots of the younger man. Kimura then turned the tables his way, again, and began to grind down Tanaka with volume until Tanaka, once again, responded.
By the end of the round both men looked exhausted, swollen, glad it was over and with a new found respect for each other. Fans however were left amazing by what they had seen, and knew they had sat through something truly remarkable.
It was a round that was like a mini bout, with multiple momentum shifts through it, various changes in tempo and action and a genuinely amazing round. It failed to deliver a knockdown. Neither man was stumbled or badly rocked. Yet it was still a round that perfectly combined action, drama and skills. It was a perfect round, and an absolutely amazing way to end the fight. A truly brilliant ending to a sensational fight.
The final major bout of 2020 saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) successfully defending his title with an 8th round TKO win over 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9). The bout was a brilliant ending to the year and saw fans around the world tune in to see an all Japanese world title bout that delivered action, excitement, skills and thrills. After a 2020 that had given us heartache, disappointment, frustration and setbacks the bout was the perfect way to put 2020 behind and move into 2021.
With the bout now viewed by almost all the hardcore boxing fans we’ve decided to re-watch it and give our feed back on the bout as we again give a bout the Five Take Away treatment.
1-Japan can deliver the big fight feel
We usually associate the big fight feeling to big bouts in the US and the UK but this bout proved that Japan can deliver that same feeling as well. From the pre-fight build up and the buzz among hardcore boxing fans to the walk in and the in ring action this really was a big fight. It may not have matched the biggest all-Japanese fighters ever, but it was still a bout that had all the hallmarks of a big, super fight event. Sadly it’s a huge shame, still, that no US broadcaster picked up the rights, though it’s fantastic that broadcasters around the world did, giving fans a chance to see it without needing to resort to Japanese streams. It was a shame that the bout came in 2020 with a partially empty arena, and with fans needing to wearing masks, rather than being allowed to roar and cheer their support for the fighters. Despite the minor complaints this was still a special event, and credit to all involved in putting it on.
2-Ioka is incredibly adaptable
Kazuto Ioka is one of the most overlooked and under-rated fighters in the sport, and has been for years. The talented 4-weight world champion hasn’t had success by fluke or by chance, instead he’s had due to an excellent boxing brain and fantastic skills. Those skills have been honed amazingly well in recent years, and since linking up with Ismael Salas we have seen Ioka become more adaptable and smarter than ever. In recent fights Ioka has mixed up his gameplans and tactics, he’s adapted to his opponents, and hasn’t just relied on fighting his style. Instead he seems more apt at neutralising his opponents. A year ago we saw him up against the taller, longer and faster Jeyvier Cintron, and it was Ioka who took center ring and tried to rip Cinton’s body apart and neutralise his movement. This time around Ioka played the role of counter puncher, neutralising the speed of Tanaka, and again cracking the body. A few fights back he neutralised the power of Aston Palicte. To beat Ioka you need to be able to out think him, and very, very few fighters are able to do that. In many ways that’s why a potential dream fight between Ioka and Juan Francisco Estrada is so high on the wish list for boxing fans around the world.
3-Tanaka would have wanted an interim fight
When Kosei Tanaka vacated the WBO Flyweight title in early 2020 it seemed like his intention was to have a bout at Super Flyweight to adapt to the weight, and then to take on Ioka at the end of the year. Sadly 2020 didn’t allow him to have that bout and to test himself at the weight or to get used to fighting against the power of Super Flyweight. A bout against a top 25 type guy at the weight would have helped prepare him for Ioka. We suspect that 2021 will see him bouncing back and getting a bout or two to adapt to the weight, get used to things at 115lbs and in 2022 we wouldn’t be surprised at all by him getting a second world title fight. He looked good at the weight, he looked sharp, and he seemed very strong, but a little ill prepared for what would happen when a fighter, like Ioka, could take his power. Thankfully for Tanaka he’s the young gun at 115lbs, and the likes of Ioka, Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Roman Gonzalez are all the other side of 30. The general shift he was speaking of before this bout will happen, but it might be a year or two away from happening.
4-Commentary can really add to a fight
One of our biggest complaints through 2020, in general, has been the appalling quality of commentary in boxing, with the likes of DAZN, Sky Sports, BT Sports and ESPN having some awful commentary. For this bout the contest the English language commentary, done by the excellent Corey Erdman, and the Japanese commentary, let action speak for itself.
The Japanese commentary, as always, intensifies when the action picks up, they don’t feel the need to speak for every moment of every round. Pauses add to action, they allow the fighters to take center stage and simply compliment what is going on in the ring. It’s an art form.
As for the English commentary that was fantastic, it added to the occasion, was well researched, by someone who seems to actually care about the fight they are watching, caring about the men, and realising that fans watching might not be massively familiar with the fighters. It takes an excellent commentator to educate fans without talking down to them, and to add to the event and that’s exactly what we got here. Compare the commentary done here, by a single person, to the commentary done by other channels when there’s a team and the quality is massively different. This added to and improved the fight, which was already fantastic.
5-Michiaki Someya continues to shine
Through this series we’ve been praising referees a lot more than we expected, and Michiaki Someya has received praise several times during this series for being an excellent referee. He has consistently impressed with his ring positioning, his awareness and his ability to know when to step in and when to let the action flow. Time and time again he has been showing exactly what he’s capable of on the domestic stage. This time around he was given a chance to show what he could do to a wider audience and once again he was flawless. The way he stopped the bout was given widespread praise, especially with the way Tanaka essentially went limp for a moment in his arms, proving the stoppage wasn’t an early one, but that certainly wasn’t the only outstanding bit of refereeing here. Little things like making sure Ioka was in the neutral corner after the knockdowns before seeing to Tanaka were also very clear. His instructions throughout the bout were clean and he only involved himself when he had to. Through the entire of 2020 Someya has been fantastic and we really hope he gets more big bouts like this.
With no fights currently taking place we've had a bit of time on our hands, and with that in mind we've decided to look at the sport in terms of how divisions sit, and do something that had previously been requested. The Asian divisional top 10's. We'll be starting this at Minimumweight and working our way through the divisions over the coming days and weeks. We know there will be some debate about some rankings and there is certainly some area for discussion, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
One of the most interesting division's in the sport, and particularly in Asia, is the Super Flyweight division. The division has had the spotlight shined on it a lot in recent years with, and has had more than it's share of great bouts. Here we look at the best in Asia.
1-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41)
Although no longer holding a world title former 2-time WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is widely regarded as one of the best of the best in the division. The now 33 year old Thai has the best record in the division, with wins against Yota Sato, Jose Salgado, Roman Gonzalez, twice, and Juan Francisco Estrada. Blessed with heavy hands, an iron chin, freakish size and an awkward southpaw stance he's a very tricky man to beat. He was beaten last time out, in his second bout with Juan Francisco Estrada, though that was at partly down to some of the stupidest tactics seen in a world title bout. We do wonder how much longer Srisaket can continue to compete at the top, 33 is old for a man in the division and with 46 fights he has taken damage but for now he's in the divisional elite.
2-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
WBO champion Kazuto Ioka is perhaps not the top Asian in the division but is almost certainly the Asian money man with TBS and SANKYO backing him heavily. The Japanese fighter won the WBO last year to become the first Japanese male 4 weight champion and has since defended the belt once. A tactically smart boxer-puncher, with some of the best body shots in the sport, he's managed to look like a strong and complete fighter at 115lbs, not something we expected when he was looking like an under-sized Flyweight a few years ago. With wins against McWillians Arroyo, Aston Palicte and Jeyvier Cintron in his last 4 bouts, to go alongside a close loss to Donnie Nietes the Osakan has proven his value at the weight. At 31 years old time is certainly not running down on his career, and he's got the perfect mix of skills and experience.
3-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
Current IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas has one of the longest active reigns of any world champion in the sport, and the 28 year old "Pretty Boy" also has one of the most significant promoters on the planet, with Bob Arum behind him. He began his IBF title reign back in 2016, when he beat McJoe Arroyo, and has made 8 defenses of the belt. Whilst that sounds impressive some of his opposition during his reign has been disappointing. Despite some of his competition being questionable he does have noteworthy wins over Arroyo, Israel Gonzalez and Jonas Sultan, among others. When Ancajas is in full flow he's a joy to watch, though his draw against Alejandro Santiago Barrios does leave us wondering how he'd cope with some of the more technical capable fighters at 115lbs.
4-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
Another Japanese multi-divisional champion is Kosei Tanaka, who signalled his intent to move up in weight earlier this year, vacating the WBO Flyweight title to join the ranks at Super Flyweight. It's hard to know what he's going to be like at 115lbs but the reality is that he's move proven, as a fighter, than anyone outside of the top 3 in the division. He's the mandatory for Ioka, and they could potentially clash later this year if the suspension on boxing is lifted. The 24 year old has a lot of questions to answer at the weight, but given his speed, will to win, under-rated power and his skills he could be a genuine handful. His ranking is based, at least somewhat, on what he's done at lower weights, but see him fitting right into the mix at the top of the division when he returns to the ring.
5-Sho Ishida (28-2, 15)
It's really hard to know how go Sho Ishida is. When he's been matched against better competition he's come up short, losing to Kal Yafai and Israel Gonzalez, but by that same token he has shown flashes of brilliance and looks like a talent. At least at times. The tall and rangy Osakan is a former stable mate of Ioka's and it's clear he has learned a few things from Ioka, but it very much feels like he's missing a higher gear. It would be great to see him in with some top regional fighters in the next year or two to see if he can sink or swim at the Oriental level. Right now it feels very much like his Japanese title reign, which ran from August 2014 to mid-2016, is a very long time ago and he's not managed to replicate that level of performance since.
6-KJ Cataraja (11-0, 9)
At 24 years old the time is rife for KJ Cataraja to go from being one of the best kept secrets in Asian boxing to being a star. The former amateur standout had been matched well early on, and was fighting in 8 round bouts as early as his third contest. Sadly it took a bit too long for him to progress into facing a genuine test, with his 2018 bout against Victor Hugo Reyes being his one true test so far. He's ready to be let off the leash, but ALA Promotions, who guide his career, had a horror in 2019 rarely putting on shows and seeing Nietes vacate his title. If ALA can't push Cataraja forward when boxing returns to the Philippines we wouldn't be surprised by the youngster leaving the ALA stable and following Mark Magsayo in the pursuit of bigger and better things. He's too good to waste his career against the likes of Delfin De Asis and Crison Omayao, the two opponents he faced in 2019.
7-Ryusei Kawaura (7-0, 4)
Of course Cataraja isn't the only promising youngster ready to be unleashed when boxing returns on a wider scale in Asia. Another is Ryusei Kawaura, the protege of Hiroshi Kawashima. The unbeaten Kawaura only fought twice in 2019 but his competition there was solid with wins against Renoel Pael and Joy Joy Formentera. He proved his boxing brain and toughness in those bouts, and was asked questions that he had to answer. Although he's yet to fight beyond 8 rounds it's worth noting he has gone 8 completed rounds in 3 of his last 4 bouts and doesn't appear to have struggled with that distance so far. Hopefully 10 or 12 rounds will come for him in the next year or two and he's got skills, a smart manager and a lot of potential. One thing he will need to do however is get more eyes on him, and so far he's lacked any form of TV coverage, something that will need to change sooner rather than later.
8-Kongfah CP Freshmart (32-1, 16)
Kongfah CP Freshmart, aka Jakkrawut Majoogoen, is arguably the forgotten man of the division.The 25 year old Thai has been a professional since 2013 and his only career defeat came way back in 2015 to Daigo Higa. Since then he has reeled off 18 wins including victories over Renz Rosia, Ryoji Fukunaga and Hyuma Fujioka. Whilst much of his competition has been poor he has been climbing up the rankings based on his competition, and his win over Fukunaga is certainly one worthy of note, as he also fits into the top 10. Talented, with respectable power, good speed, work rate and toughness he could go on to be a player in the division, but really will need to step up his competition when boxing resumes in Thailand.
9-Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12)
Current WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga scored a career defining win last time out, when he stopped Froilan Saludar. Prior to that win he had done little of note since winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year back in 2016. His career seemed to go off the tracks, especially when he suffered back to back losses in 2018 to Yuta Matsuo and Kongfah CP Freshmart, but the win over Saludar has given the 33 year old a major win and a chance to build something from. Sadly at 33 years old his potential is limited, but with his power and will to win he'll make for some interesting fights, until father time takes him down. It'd be interesting to see him in with the likes of KJ Catraja or Ryusei Kawaura in the future, but we feel the youngsters both have the tools to out point Fukunaga, even at this point their career's.
10-Froilan Saludar (31-4-1, 22)
Once tipped as a future world champion the 31 year old Froilan Saludar rounds out our top 10. The former WBO Asia Pacific champion is very much a fighter who has failed to reach the heights expected of him, but yet has remained a constant enigma. At his best he is very good, but it's hard to know how good he really is when he keeps losing his biggest bouts. Set backs against McWilliams Arroyo, Takuma Inoue, Sho Ishida and Fukunaga show he isn't world class, but he's very much in the mix at the regional level. He's skills, heavy handed and dangerous, but question marks about his durability and stamina will always hang over him and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him become a regional gate keeper in the coming years.
On the bubble
Kenta Nakagawa, Jonas Sultan, Takayuki Okumoto, Jade Bornea and Yuta Matsuo
Note - Donnie Nietes has not been considered as he has been inactive for over a and would be at least 38 by the time he returns to the ring. His long break from the ring may not have been confirmed as a retirement but it's impossible to know what he'll have left it he returns.
For a second week running we've decided to take an international fighter and look at 5 Asian options that they may consider for a future bout, following on from something similar we did last week in regards to Emanuel Navarrete. This week things are a little bit different however, as the international fighter we look at is very closely linked to Japan, and actually fights for a Japanese promoter. Despite that we thought it was worth talking about Nicaraguan star Roman Gonzalez (49-2, 41) in our second international "Five For...".
Thankfully due to Gonzalez's links to Japan and comments made after his recent win over Kal Yafai it's obvious he is willing to return to the Land of the Rising sun for bouts, and there's where two of the bouts would likely take place, though we certainly have other potential match ups for Chocolatito.
1-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
The bout that Gonzalez himself seems to be chasing is arguably the most interesting between himself and an Asian fighter, with that being a clash with WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, . Gonzalez, the current WBA champion, would be looking to unify with Ioka and this is a bout between two men who have circled each other for much of their careers, but things never really lined up. By the time Ioka won his first world title, the WBC Minimumweight title, Gonzalez had left the division. By the time Ioka moved up to 108lbs Gonzalez was on his way out of the division and by the time Ioka was looking settled at Flyweight Gonzalez had moved up again. Neither man blatantly avoided each other, but the windows for the two men to fight were rather slim, they existed but only for a matter of months rather than years. Now they are in the same division, both are world champions and this would be a very special unification bout between 2 men who have held world titles in 4 weight classes.
2-Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23)
Another potential bout between a couple of 4-weight world champions would see Gonzalez take on Filipino veteran Donnie Nietes. The Filipino has chased this bout publicly but has failed to secure it, with his team not really having the financial clout they once did. On paper this would have been a brilliant match up when the two men were in their primes, but with his 38th birthday fast approaching, and with more than a year away from the ring, we really need to wonder what Nietes has left in the tank. At his best the talented Filipino was a nightmare for anyone, with fantastic skills, and a brilliant high level IQ, but would that ever have been enough to deal with the power, poise and pressure of Gonzalez? This is probably a safer option for Gonzalez to face next, but in reality Gonzalez has rarely been able having "safer" fights as title defenses.
3-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
Another potential bout that would see Gonzalez not only facing a Filipino, instead of Neites, but also getting a chance to unify, instead of facing Kazuto Ioka, is a bout with Jerwin Ancajas. The long reigning, though somewhat underwhelming, IBF champion has the longest active reign in the division, dating back to September 2016, but has yet to get that A level championship type of bout. He's beaten a mix of B tier contenders, and worse, but hasn't yet notched a real top tier defense of the IBF crown. If this bout takes place it would finally give Ancajas a chance to face an A tier opponent, and he would have significant size advantages over the Nicaraguan, but Gonzalez would almost certainly be the betting favourite.
4-Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9)
Not the most likely choice, but an interesting choice all the same, would be a bout between Gonzalez and 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka. Both men are chasing a bout with Kazuto Ioka, and a clash between the two would essentially be an eliminator, of sorts, to face the WBO king. In reality neither man needs this bout, but it would be a brilliant match up with the old veteran looking to tame the young lion. Gonzalez would be strongly favoured, and would be expected to take out Tanaka, but Tanaka has shown an incredible will to win, and has the speed to make life difficult for someone like Gonzalez. The bout would test what Gonzalez has left, and give Tanaka not only a chance to become a 4-weight champion but also a chance to announce himself internationally. It's an unlikely bout to happen but one worth thinking about, and a really fun one to imagine. Sadly though if Gonzalez is 80% the fighter he once was he would likely grind down Tanaka around the middle rounds.
5-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) III
We've mostly looked at bouts where Gonzalez would be the favourite, but lets finish this by looking at a bout where the Nicaraguan wonder would be the under-dog, a bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Or rather a third bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The heavy handed Thai is the only man to have beaten Gonzalez, having done so twice, and is known to be looking to get back into the world title mix in 2020. For Srisaket the bout would be against a fighter he knows he can beat, and beat decisively, as he did in the rematch. It would also be a bout where Srisaket can, after Gonzalez's last performance, come in knowing the Nicaraguan isn't a shot fighter, and is still very much a top name at Super Flyweight. As for Gonzalez it would give him a chance to avenge his defeats and beat the only man to have beaten him during his legendary career.
Of course when it comes to Roman Gonzalez the modern day legend has numerous other options out there, including a second bout with Juan Francisco Estrada, or a potential bout with one of the current Flyweight kings such as Moruti Mthalane or Artem Dalakian, or unbeaten Australian Andrew Moloney. There are so many options out there for him that his win over Kal Yafai opens the doors to yet another amazing champter for Gonzalez, and a chapter we are really lookign forward to seeing play out of the coming months and years.
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect Filipino prospect Jade Bornea...and former Japanese amateur standout Eiji Morioka
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-The talented Jade Bornea was a former amateur standout, and in March 2013 he claimed the gold medal at the Asian Youth Championships in Subic Bay, Philippines. In the final Bornea took a razor thin decision over Japan's Kosei Tanaka.
2-Japan's 3-weight world Japan Kosei Tanaka has been a real star Chubu, where he has become the local face of boxing, and helped to re-establish a scene had really been lead in the early 1990's by his promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka.
3-Although not amazingly well remembered now Kiyoshi Hatanaka was a really key figure in boxing in Chubu, despite only fighting 24 times in a career that lasted about 7 years. His career was highlighted by 3 fights in particular, his loss to Gilberto Roman in 1988, his 1991 win over Pedro Decima and his 1991 loss to Daniel Zaragoza. The win over Decima was the win the defines his career, and saw him claim the WBC Super Bantamweight title.
4-Another Japanese fighter to win the WBC Super Bantamweight title was the legendary Kazuo "Royal" Kobayashi.
5-"Royal" Kobayashi may only have had a short reign, holding the belt for 46 days, but he had already made a name for himself before even turning professional. He had made a mark on the amateurs ranks, reaching the quarter-finals of the 1972 Olympics at 57KG's. Another fighter who fought at 57KG's in the 1972 Olympics was Philip Waruinge, who won the Silver medal.
6-Philip Waruinge, who fought in Japan as Waruinge Nakayama, Didn't just fight at the 1972 Olympics , in fact that was actually Waruinge's second Olympics, after also competing at, and winning a medal at, the 1968 games in Mexico City. Another man who claimed a medal at the 1968 Olympics was Eiji Morioka! In fact Morioka and Waruinge both claimed bronze medals at the 1968 Olympic games! Morioka's career in the ring wasn't the best, with the Japanese fighter going 6-4 (3) though his impact has been felt, and still, thanks to the Morioka Gym that he set up in 1978.
One of the world champions who defended their world title at the very end of 2019 was WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9). The man from Chukyo made his third defense of the title in impressive fashion, putting on a near punch perfect display against Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi, before clinically closing the showing with some sensational uppercuts.
With 3 defenses behind him and a potentially massive 2020 ahead of him it seems we're now at an ideal time to give Kosei Tanaka the "Five For" treatment, and look at five potential match ups for the "KO Dream Boy". Here are 5 options he, and manager Kiyoshi Hatanaka, should be looking at if they want to have a huge year!
1-Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26)
A bout between Tanaka and South African Moruti Mthalane would be a sensational match up between two men who are incredibly talented and smart in the ring, but go about things very differently. Mthalane, the current IBF champion, is a defensively sound fighter, with clean punches and a willingness to press forward behind a tight guard to force mistakes and open up counter opportunities. Tanaka on the other hand is a speedy fighter who likes to let his hands go, and will involve himself in a war far too easily. This could end up being a brilliantly exciting, yet high skill, war, though with Mthalane now in his late 30's we'd want this sooner rather than later.
2-Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
Leading into the end of year show to close out 2019 it seemed TBS and the WBO were both building to a potential all Japanese show down between Tanaka and WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka. The bout would see Tanaka leaving the Flyweight division, just as it seems to be heating up, but for a bout against a Japanese icon like Ioka, with a 4th divisional title on the line it'd have been hard to fault Tanaka for going this route. Sadly since the show on New Year's Eve this bout has began to seem unlikely, at least for now. It seems both are on different paths, and if they do cross, it could well be 2 or 3 years from now.
3-Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12)
Although it seems WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez won't be available until the middle of the year, given he's pencilled into defend his title in late February, this is still a match up that genuinely intrigues us. On one hand you'd have Tanaka, a lightning quick boxer-puncher, blessed blink and you miss it speed. On the other hand you have "El Rey", a destructive freak of nature, who walks through opponents, with intense pressure and brutal power. Speed against power is always fun to see, and we can't help but view this as a super competitive bout between men with very different abilities, but abilities that would gel well. Oh and it'd be a unification bout!
4-Artem Dalakian (19-0, 14)
Another unification bout, and another we'd have to wait until summer for, would be a clash between Tanaka and WBA champion Artem Dalakian. Tanaka might not yet have truly shined as a Flyweight, though has beaten decent competition in his defenses, but Dalakian has completely wasted the good will of his title win. Despite being an excellent fighter Dalakian has done little of note since winning the belt in the US against Brian Viloria. Dalakian set to make his 4th defense in February, against Josber Perez, and that should be his final easy bout. With Dalakian turning 33 in August he needs big bouts, and he needs them soon, what better than facing Tanaka, in a unification bout in summer?
5-Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) II
The dark horse bout, though it really shouldn't be, would see Tanaka take on former foe Sho Kimura in a rematch of their 2018 Fight of the Year. Their first bout was a sensational war that helped put Tanaka on the map, and for him to give Kimura a chance to reclaim his title would be the right thing to do. If we ended up with a rematch half as good as their first contest then we wouldn't be complaining at all! We do imagine Tanaka would win a rematch easier than he won their first bout, but we'd still absolutely love to see these two share the ring one more time!
Over the last few years the Japanese boxing scene has witnessed an incredible rise through the ranks by the "KO Dream Boy" Kosei Tanaka, who has gone on to become the star of the Chubu region of Japan. He's had a number of fights shown internationally through streams with CBC and has become one of the most notable figures in Japan boxing. Today we take you on a journey in our latest Six Degrees of Separation, starting with Tanaka and ending with Chartchai Chionoi.
1-Kosei Tanaka fights out of the gym lead by former WBC Super Bantamweight world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, the man who had been the face of boxing in Nagoya in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
2-Although Kiyoshi Hatanaka wasn't the most successful fighter of his era he certainly had a good local following and was regularly in great fights, thanks to his engine and toughness. Hatanaka's young son Kento Hatanaka is currently carving out a respectable career of his own, despite still being in the shadows of his father.
3-Another youngster stuck in the shadow of his father is Juiki Tatsuyoshi, who's father was more of a national star than Kento's father. Juiki's father Joichiro Tatsuyoshi was regarded as one of the most exciting fighters of his era and the most popular in Japan, by some margin, due to his enigmatic personality and his thrilling, in ring style which lead him to 2 reigns as the WBC Bantamweight champion.
4-Another WBC Bantamweight champion was the legendary Fighting Harada, who defeated Eder Jofre for the belt. Harada's significance to Japanese boxing is legendary and he is generally regarded as Japan's greatest ever boxer, and one of the finest fighters the lower weights have ever seen.
5-During his long and successful career Fighting Harada was only beaten by 1 Asian fight, Pone Kingpetch. Kingpetch was the first ever Thai world champion, and became a 2-time champion by beating Harada in 1963, before finally becoming a 3-time champion in 1964.
6-Thailand hasn't had many 3-time world champions. One was Kingpetch and another was Chartchai Chionoi, who, like Kingpetch, had 3 reigns at Flyweight taking the WBC belt from Walter McGowan in 1966 for his first reign, reclaiming it from Efren Torres in 1970 and then beating Fritz Chervet for the then vacant WBA title in 1973.
Last weekend we saw IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) continue his reign and record his 8th defense in just over 3 years. On paper that sounds impressive but in reality Ancajas has been kept away from the big dogs of the Super Flyweight division since upsetting McJoe Arroyo for the title back in September and his reign has really failed to impress, and big fights have slipped by, including a unification bout a few years ago with the then WBO champion Naoya Inoue.
Thankfully there is time to turn things around, and rebuild his reputation as a true world champion. A chance to put defenses against the like Miguel Gonzalez, Israel Gonzalez, Jamie Conlan and Teiru Kinoshita behind him and get back to the point where he is on par with some of the divisions other top names. Here we give you Five For... Jerwin Ancajas.
1-Francisco Rodriguez Jr (33-4-1, 24)
We've always liked a match up between Ancajas and former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr, aka "Chihuas". The Mexican is highly regarded, and is currently ranked in the top 10 by the WBC and WBA, and despite not currently having an IBF ranking it would be out of the the realms of logic for them to place him in there soon, especially given they currently rank a retired fighter in their top 15. Rodriguez brings aggression, power, a fun style and a decent name to the ring. Sure he made his name at 105lbs, but he was always outgrow the division and has settled well at 115lbs and has won 14 in a row, with 11 T/KO's. This is a bout we'd genuinely love to see.
2-Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23)
Nietes has been out of the ring since the end of 2018, when he beat Kazuto Ioka to become a 4-weight world champion. For whatever reason Neites gave up the title he won there, though hasn't officially retired. What better way to retire than after a fight with Ancajas? For Nietes it gives him a chance to add one more notable name to his brilliant legacy, and claim a world title in 3 different decades. For Ancajas it would be a chance to rip the torch from Nietes and carry it as the Filipino flag bearer for the lower weight classes. This is cross generational fight and one with real appeal, matching Ancajas's speed and fluid boxing against the excellent experience and ring craft of Neites. A really appealing bout for a neutral fan and a huge bout for Filipino fans specifically.
3-Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14)
Unification bouts have been absent from the Super Flyweight division for too long, and even planned unification bouts seem to fall apart for no real reason. So, how about an all-Asian unification bout at Super Flyweight between IBF champion Ancajas and WBO Champion Kazuto Ioka? It wouldn't match the height of Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire in terms of attention, another Japan Vs Philippines unification bout, but it would still be huge and give the winner a stronger claim as the best in the division. Technically this would be a joy to watch, with both being technically solid, aggressive fighters, with some of the sweetest looking punches in the division. This bout is, of course, dependent on Ioka winning his year ending bout against Jeyvier Cintron, but we do see that as a bout Ioka should win.
4-Roman Gonzalez (47-2, 39)
Like Ioka we'll see Roman Gonzalez in action in December, in what looks to be a straight forward come back bout. A win there and the door opens up for "Chocolatito" to get some bigger bouts and why not a shot at Ancajas? For both men this should be seen as an appealing match up. For Ancajas it's finally a chance to take on a well known name, albeit a faded and post-prime Gonzalez, and a win over Gonzalez would do his reputation the world of good. Yes even this version of Gonzalez. As for the Nicaraguan the bout would allow him a shot to reclaim a portion of the Super Flyweight crown, and if he wins it would increase his negotiating power in a potential divisional unification bout with Juan Francisco Estrada.
5-Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8)
Another man with a fight before the year ends, but another really interesting option for Ancajas, is Japanese youngster Kosei Tanaka. Tanaka is already a 3 weight world champion and he has spoken about moving up to Super Flyweight in the relatively near future. If he retains his WBO Flyweight title on December 31st then a move up in weight would certainly be something of interesting. For Tanaka a chance to become a 4 weight world champion in just 16 or so fights must be something that's hugely appealing to a man who has tied Vasyl Lomachneko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight champion. For Ancajas this would be a chance to take on a naturally smaller man, but someone who has a growing fan base, and has very high standing among hardcore fans. Ancajas would be the betting favourite, but that doesn't take away from the quality of the match up, and the fact it's a genuine test for the Filipino. This might not be the best possible match up, but is certainly a very interesting bout all the same
Japanese star Kosei Tanaka has had a number of his bouts streamed worldwide thanks to CBC. Today we look at the 3-weight world champion and bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kosei Tanaka
1-Tanaka took part in his B license pro-test bout on September 23rd 2013 when he shared the ring with then #9 Japanese ranked Flyweight Yuji Shimizu for 3 rounds. He was then immediately given a pass for a B class license.
2-Despite being unbeaten, and going 8-0 in world title fights, Tanaka has actually been dropped 4 times. He was put down by Vic Saludar at Minimumweight, twice by Palangpol CP Freshmart at Light Flyweight and most recently once by Jonathan Gonzalez. Interestingly he would bounce back from those knockdowns to stop his opponents. Saludar was taken out in round 6, Palangpol in round 9 and Gonzalez in round 7.
3-In 2018, when he defeated Sho Kimura, he tied Vasyl Lomachenko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight world champion, doing so in 12 fights. Amazingly he was only 23 when he achieved the feat, whilst Lomachenko was 32. Interestingly Lomachenko achieved the feat only 4 months earlier than Tanaka and took just 3 months less time, having debuted a month before the Japanese fighter.
4-Although known as a CBC fighter, and CBC are an affiliate of TBS, Tanaka has had a fight shown on TBS's Kanto rival Fuji TV. This came in his fourth bout, when he beat Ryuji Hara in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title on an episode of Diamond Glove. This is the only time he has had a bout aired in Tokyo on anything other than TBS. This is also the only time, so far at least, that he has fought at the Korakuen Hall.
5-Tanaka's first 14 opponents come from only 6 different countries. He has faced 5 Filipino's, 3 Japanese, 2 Puerto Rican's, 2 Mexican's, a Thai and an Indonesian.
6-His first two professional opponents were both world ranked! His debut came against the then WBO #6 ranked Minimumweight Oscar Raknafa, whilst his second bout came against the WBA #12 ranked Ronelle Ferreras. In fact 5 of Tanaka's first 6 opponents were world ranked by at least 1 of the 4 major title bodies.
7-At the 2013 Asian Youth Championships in the Philippines Tanaka lost to Jade Bornea, 15:13 on the old scoring system. The same tournament also saw rising Uzbek sensation Israil Madrimov pick up a silver medal as well!
8-As a youngster Tanaka went to the gym was headed by former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Hideyasu Ishihara. Like Tanaka Ishihara was regarded as a prodigy, challenging Celes Kobyashi for the Japanese Flyweight title in just his third professional bout. As a professional Ishihara would claim the OPBF title, and twice fight for variations of the WBA title, losing to Martin Castillo in both of those world title bouts.
9-Kosei's ring walk music is "I was Born to Love You" by Queen, as you can see in the video below
10-Whilst we all know Kosei's older brother is also a successful boxer, the family also has another sporting success. That's the Tanaka brother's cousin, Yuhana Yokoi, who's a successful figure skater. Yokoi who came 6th at the 2018 World Junior Championships and 3rd at the 2018 ISU Junior Grand Prix in Armenia, and also competed in the 2019 World Championships.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One year ago we were lucky enough to work with CBC for the first time. We agreed terms to carry the official stream of their international broadcast for the WBO Flyweight world title bout between Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10 at the time) and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7 at the time).
Entering the bout Kimura was looking to make his third defense of the title, building on not only his title win against Zou Shiming but also wins against Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar. He was looking to continue his remarkable ascent from obscurity to star and build on real momentum that had been generated by his 3 wins at world level.
Tanaka on the other hand was looking to etch his place in history and match the record for fewest fights needed to become a 3 weight world champion, a record of 12 fights set just months early by Vasyl Lomachenko. He was looking to become a 3 weight champion at the age of just 23 and less than 5 years after making his debut.
We had high hopes for the bout. Kimura had been wonderfully impressive in recent bouts, not just his world level wins but also his win against Masahiro Sakamoto. He had shown real grit and determination,a great work rate, under-rated power and amazing energy. In fact he seemed to get stronger the longer fights went on. Tanaka on the other hand was an extremely skilled boxer, who got dragged into fights willingly, he had a reputation for getting into wars and had been dropped dropped twice just 2 fights previous by Palangpol CP Freshmart. Despite being skilled their was a sense of vulnerability about Tanaka that could have been his down fall here.
What we ended up getting was something exceeded expectations. It wasn't just a great fight, instead it was a bout that was widely hailed FOTY contender. A back and forth war that left fans on their seat, they styles of the two men gelling, the mentality of the two battling at the top. The fight was the sort of battle that makes people realise just how good fights with the little men can be.
On this anniversary of the bout we suggest you all relive this instant classic!
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).