Sho Kimura vs. Kosei Tanaka Preview
On September 24 at the Takeda Teva Ocean Arena in Nagoya, Japan Sho Kimura will attempt to make the third defense of the WBO Flyweight title against former WBO Minimumweight and Jr. Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka. On paper, this is a very intriguing matchup and one of best fights of the year among the smaller-weight fighters.
The defending champion Kimura (17-1-2, 10 KOs) entered the professional ranks relatively late at age 25. Further, he was KO’d in his first pro bout. Nonetheless, slowly but surely Kimura kept plugging away with his breakthrough, which came in July of last year. He challenged then WBO Flyweight champion Zou Shiming in Shiming’s home country of China. Kimura took full advantage of the opportunity; upsetting Shiming via an eleventh-round stoppage to capture the belt. Since then, champion has followed up with two successful title defenses, both ending by way of knockout.
Sho Kimura is a fighter who likes to fight moving forward. Very strong for a flyweight, Kimura has stopped eight of his last nine opponents. While not the most fleet-footed fighter in the world, he is very good at cutting the ring with his mission being to overwhelm fighters with his physical strength and power.
While Sho Kimura has been unheralded for most of his boxing career, Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7 KOs) has been tabbed as one of the future stars of Japanese boxing going back to his amateur days; and up to this point, Tanaka has more than exceeded expectations.
Matched against tough opposition since the beginning of his career, Tanaka was fighting for the regional titles in only his fourth bout. He claimed the vacant WBO minimumweight title in only his fifth pro bout in May of 2015. Tanaka has subsequently moved up and won a title at jr. flyweight and is now challenging Kimura for the flyweight title. If he wins, he will tie Vasyl Lomachenko’s recird as the fastest three-weight champion in boxing history.
He has emerged as one of the best fighters in the world among the “Little Giants” of the sport as a fighter who can do a bit of everything. In winning the vacant WBO Jr. Flyweight title against the hard-hitting Angel Acosta, he showed outstanding skills while deciding to box. In other fights, Tanaka has shown the ability to attack moving forward. Tanaka’s arsenal is complete; he can box, he has excellent foot movement, he can dig effectively to the body and can do all of this with power. In spite of his many attributes, Tanaka’s weakness is that he can be lured into a brawl at times.
For Kimura, the key to this fight is investing in punishing the body early on for dividends later in the fight. On the other hand, Tanaka will require the patience to not be lured into a firefight. Recent evidence suggests that Kosei Tanaka is the much better boxer and the favorite in this fight.
Kosei is the more naturally gifted, faster fight and has a more complete arsenal. Sho Kimura is dangerous and Tanaka knows this. This is why Tanaka will employ patience and box, box, box.
My prediction: Kosei Tanaka wins by decision in a good entertaining scrap.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.