Earlier today in Japan fight fans saw talented youngster Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] score his toughest win to date as he stopped heavy handed Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (14-2, 8) [คู่เอก พลังพล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] to defend his WBO Light Flyweight title, in a bout which saw Tanaka dropped, cut, and looking the more beaten up man by the end.
The bout started very slowly, in fact for the two minutes there was almost no action to be excited by. It showed Tanaka was quicker but that was it. Close to the end of the round however Palangpol's power told as he dropped Tanaka with a single right hand that really turned the round on it's head, and secured a 10-8 round for the Thai.
Tanaka never seemed hurt by the knockdown and over the following few rounds found his groove, taking rounds 2-5 with no issues, as he used his speed, skills, movement and variety to look several levels above the Thai. Palangpol however knew his advantage was in his power and strength and every shot he seemed to land seemed to take a more telling toll on Tanaka who's left eye was looking bruised from early in the bout.
After a huge 5th round for Tanaka, which saw him hurting the Thai with body shots several times, it seemed like the end was nigh. Instead however Palangpol gritted his teeth and took the fight to Tanaka, cutting the champion on his right eye, leaving both of Tanaka's eyes a mess. The Japanese fighter suddenly looked worried, and as if his entire self belief had vanished. All the confidence and fire had been taken out of his sails and Palangpol looked like a fighter who was starting to take over.
Bizarrely Palangpol didn't push his advantages in rounds 7 or 8, in fact he seemed too relaxed to press the fight and was perhaps just too tired to take the fight to Tanaka. Had he take it to Tanaka there is a chance we'd have seen a new champion being crowned with Tanaka looking like a man who felt sorry for himself. By the end of round 8 however the chance for Palangpol had gone. Tanaka had started to rebuild his confidence and that showed to begin round 9, as he took the fight to the Thai.
A headshot from Tanaka dropped Palangpol, who seemed to bounce up in a matter of seconds. Tanaka then jumped on him, and they threw shots at each other with reckless abandon. Sadly for the Thai he seemed to still have his head full of cobwebs and he struggled to connect whilst Tanaka landed some huge bombs, eventually forcing the referee to step in after the Thai had stumbled twice.
For Tanaka the win was obvious vital, but given the facial damage he suffered he may well find his proposed December showdown with WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi being delayed until 2018. That damage is going to take a long time to heal. For Palangpol he really put himself on the map. He lost, but he showed everything needed to be given another shot at a champion down the line, even if he was a real unknown to those outside of Thailand before today. Like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai we saw Palangpol get a chance and shine, despite failing to score the win, and he will be seen as a notable player at Light Flyweight following this contest.
World Title Results
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