Whilst boxing tends to be associated with weekends in Japan no day is off limits and this coming Wednesday proves that with a mouth watering double header in Osaka. One of those bouts will see WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (9-0, 5) [田中恒成] defending his title against once beaten Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (14-1, 8) [คู่เอก พลังพล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] in what looks like a solid bout on paper.
The champion won the title last year, when he closed out the year with a destructive and one-sided beat down of Moises Fuentes, stopping the Mexican in the 5th round of a bout that really looked like a show case. In his first defense of the belt Tanaka defeated hard hitting Puerto Rican Angel Acosta, taking a comfortably decision despite having some early issues with the visitor.
Prior to becoming the Light Flyweight champion Tanaka had had a short reign as the OPBF, and WBO Minmumweight champion and had racked up impressive wins against the likes of Ryuji Hara, Julian Yedras and Vic Saludar, showing he could box, brawl, fight and grit it out in those bouts. Since moving up however he's looked more relaxed and has rounded off some of his defense flaws, whilst keeping his insane speed.
In the ring Tanaka is still a diamond in the rough, despite being a 2-weight champion, but has the natural speed, and explosiveness to make up for the rough edges. Against a really intelligent fighter his flaws come be exposed more, but the truth is that that only Vic Saludar and Ryuji Hara have really had success against him, and he's looked a much stronger fighter since moving up to Light Flyweight. He's looking to prove that later this year, with a lot of talking of a bout against WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi, but will obviously need to be successful later this coming week to get that long awaited unification bout.
Whilst Tanaka is well known, and is 4-0 (2) in world title bouts, the same cannot be said of Palangpol who is really only known in Thailand, despite having made his boxing debut in Japan and impressing, despite coming up short. Although he's a bit of a boxing novice he is a former standout Muay Thai fighter, and was a genuine star in "the art of eight limbs". It was that experience that helped him to claim some small regional titles and take on the likes of Koji Itagaki, Heri Amol and Donny Mabao very early in his career.
In the ring Palangpol is a patient fighter, he looks for his openings with aggressive footwork and although he still has the hall marks of a Muay Thai fighter who has turned to boxing he boasts very heavy hands and good timing on his counter straight right. Given his Muay Thai background it's little wonder that he looks relaxed in the ring, though sometimes that relaxed nature shows in his shots and although naturally heavy handed he has been seen to push shots. This will give opponents counter opportunities, an against a quick and smart fighter like Tanaka this could prove to be a really big problem.
The Thai won't have travelled to lie down, and is certainly a very good fighter, but it does seem like his Muay Thai flaws will be picked apart by Tanaka. As a Muay Thai fighter Palangpol is great but as a boxer his fluidity and stance aren't quite right and although he has serious power, especially in his body shots, it's hard to imagine him landing much clean on Tanaka. Instead we suspect the Japanese fighter will use his incredible speed and movement to tag the Thai until Palangpol is eventually stopped, somewhere in the middle rounds.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.