Kosei Tanaka should consider going down in weight
Three-divisional champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9ko) suffered his first career defeat at the hands of fellow Japanese fighter WBO Super flyweight champion kazuto Ioka (26-1, 15ko) while attempting to become a world champion in a fourth division. It was not so much that he lost. The issue was the fashion in which he was brutally beaten. The WBO champion completely outclassed Tanaka. Furthermore, it was evident that Tanaka’s punches did not have the usual effect on Ioka. This brings up the argument, should he move back down to the junior flyweight or flyweight division?
In most cases when a fighter suffers their first defeat, especially in a devastating fashion, fans and pundits are quick to say that fighter’s career could be over. However, that is not the case in this situation. The three-divisional champion has the option to move down, and it could be just what is needed.
RULER OF THE LITTLE GUYS
Remember, before being defeated, Tanaka was running through the lower divisions. He was winning championships at minimumweight, junior flyweight, and flyweight like milk through a lactose intolerant person.
The Japanese fighter turned away some of the best fighters in those divisions, winning the vacant minimumweight title by defeating Julian Yedras (24-8, 13ko) in 2015. Furthermore, Yedras only had one defeat at that time, and was never the same after the Tanaka fight, losing his next six fights in a row.
Then came Moises Fuentes (25-6-1, 14ko) for the vacant WBO junior flyweight title in 2016. Next, he made a title defense against hard-punching Angel “Tito” Acosta (21-2, 21ko), who suffered his first defeat at the hands of the Japanese fighter back in 2017. Equally important, Tanaka had both of his orbital bones broken and still won by unanimous decision.
Of course, there was the fight with fellow countrymen and then WBO flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12ko). What made this victory important was Tanaka tied former unified lightweight champion Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko’s record as the fastest fighter to achieve winning three divisional titles.
OPTIONS ARE LIMITLESS WITH MOVE DOWN
Tanaka has plenty of options with a move back down in weight, and the financial implication is there as well. Looking at the flyweight division, close your eyes and pick whoever is holding a belt. The three-divisional champion could fight fellow countryman in WBO champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16ko) for a good payday.
How about ageless IBF champion Moruti “Babyface” Mthalane (39-2, 26ko)? This 38-year-old South African boxer has been on a mission, and he is not a stranger to fighting in Japan. Recently winning his last two fights there, Babyface has not lost a fight since 2008 and his resume stacks up with the best of them.
In the junior flyweight division, two huge Japanese mega-fights can be made with WBC champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10ko) or WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9ko). Kyoguchi is also a former IBF Minimumweight champion and has victories over then-undefeated fighter Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2 8ko) by a brutal fourth-round knockout. However, it was his destruction over then WBA champion Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10ko) that caught the fan’s attention back in 2018.
Those names are just the tip of the iceberg. There remains flyweight, and junior flyweight champions WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13ko), WBA champion Artem Dalakian (20-0, 14ko), WBO champion Elwin Soto (18-1, 12ko), and IBF champion Felix Alvarado (36-2, 31ko). All are bona fide fan-pleasing fights.
The three-divisional champion’s career is not over by a long-shot. Also, with so many options on the table, moving back down maybe only a matter of time.
By: Garrisson Bland