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Kosei Tanaka: From 'Dream Boy' to 'Monster of Chukyo'

After Naoya Inoue knocked out Mexico's super bantamweight guard Luis Nery, Japan showed the world that it is the pinnacle of the lightweight division.

More than ever before, the Japanese military has been putting itself at the top, highlighting the lineage of the small island nation. Amidst the squabbles of fighters and the brouhaha of brawlers, there is one name that has been criminally underrated.

This fighter, a super flyweight talent, shares the stature of Vasyl Lomachenko; the two share the record for the shortest time taken to become a third-weight world champion. A wonderful, largely overlooked work by boxing.

This fight goes by the name of Kosei Tanaka (20-1), a 28-year-old resident of Nagoya, Japan. Despite having Legg-Calve-Perthe syndrome, Tanaka would succeed as a novice boxer. 'Dream Boy', as he is often called, would compete in the light flyweight division during this time, where he would receive many national and regional medals.

Sources conflict with his actual amateur record, some say it stands at 46-5, and Boxrec only has eight officially listed. Regardless, what is known is that Tanaka was an excellent prospect; he was not stopped from his novice work.

In 2013, at the young age of 18, Tanaka was able to beat the minimumweight force, taking two unanimous decisions before a crucial 17-7-2 knockout of Crison Omayao put him on the radar of the Japanese scene.

It would put him on the map of the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation Minimumweight champion; at that time 18-0 Ryuji Hara. Tanaka would go well in his first 12 rounds, winning by TKO in the 10th round in a heated, action-packed fight. It was Tanaka's determination to go into the second round of thunder that would earn him the prestigious OPBF belt in only his fourth fight.

In his only next fight, the impressive 'Dream Boy' will take on the 'Monster of Chukyo' you can see today, as he challenges WBO World Minimumweight champion Julian Yedras, then 24-1. Tanaka would break the record set by the legendary 'The King', Naoya Inoue, as Yedras was robbed of his gold by Tanaka, earning the world title in the fewest fights, in a fight that showed his ability to win.

Overcoming a knockdown from Filipino Vic Saludar, Tanaka would knock out the crafty Saludar one round later. Moving up to light flyweight, it will only take Tanaka one win to get used to the weight, and make a run for the WBO World Light Flyweight belt; which has been vacant since Donnie Nietes left it to run the upper weight classes.

His opponent would be Mexican hero Moises Fuentes, whom Tanaka would dominate brutally, despite the determination of the spirited 'Moy'. Tanaka was going to knock Fuentes out in the fifth round and he just couldn't recover from that, holding on until the referee stopped the fight in Tanaka's favor.

In his first defense, the hot Japanese champion will face Angel Acosta, a challenger who has ended his last 16 fights by knockout. Tanaka, however, showed he was more than willing for the Puerto Rican to handle and, despite the fight scoring in Tanaka's favor, it was an interesting fight, with Acosta having moments.

Yet another TKO for Tanaka, against 14-1 Palangpol CP Freshmart, will set him up for better pastures – or, at least, higher pastures; he will move up in weight again, establishing himself as a flyweight with a ninth round stoppage over Ronnie Baldonado.

His 12th fight will be one for the history books. In a feat done once before by veteran veteran Vasyl Lomachenko, Tanaka would claim the WBO World Flyweight title in a tough fight against Japanese talent Sho Kimura; who had traveled to Thailand and China to hone his craft.

With a majority decision win to his name, and a record breaking record, Tanaka will make an impressive defense of his title, before facing the biggest challenge of his career to date; rising Japanese actor Kazuto Ioka.

On the closing day of 2020, the two men would go to war at the Ota-City General Gymnasium, with Ioka's WBO trinket. Ioka, at this point in his career, was seasonal and volatile.

In an all-out tournament, two professionals would go head-to-head, in a fight that was determined not to go the distance. And, it was.

In the eighth round of the championship fight, Ioka, despite being bombarded with heavy shots from Tanaka, was quick to counter. With one shudder, Tanaka was caught off guard, staggering to his feet. The stop was quick; Almost immediately, however, Tanaka would suffer his first – and only – job loss.

Tanaka's entry into the fourth weight class of his career was shaky unlike Ioka's uncle, Hiroki Ioka. However, like the elder Ioka, Tanaka did not give up. And, unlike the elder Ioka, luck will be on the side of the Japanese 'Dream'.

Collecting the WBO Asia Pacific title with a fifth-round TKO of Masayoshi Hashizume, then undefeated in 21 fights, Tanaka will play hard at the Asia Pacific level to establish himself in the super flyweight ranks.

On the undercard of Alexandro Santiago against Junto Nakatani, Tanaka will be yet another Japanese fighter in the lineup for the win; won the vacant WBO World Super Flyweight title against Christian Bacasegua Rangel, with Mexico's 'Rocky' losing by unanimous decision.

Again, his ambitions remain.

Therefore, considering his nicknames, Tanaka is a fighter who can be called 'Dream Boy' and 'Monster of Chukyo' equally; he's a boxer for the masses, who will just keep going.

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