By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
The 40th annual Carnival of Champions where all Japanese national champions are obliged to defend their belts against mandatory challengers started with unexpected results on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. The Korakuen Hall became a house of upsets.
Unheralded JBC#1 Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10 KOs), 105, stunned the crowd when he displayed a remarkable opening attack, dropped WBC#13/WBA#13/IBF#12/WBO#5 defending titlist Shin Ono (23-10-3, 6 KOs), 105, with a smashing right in the third and accelerated his rallies to deck the champ again to cause the referee Biney Martin’s intervention at 0:22 of the eighth round in a scheduled ten.
Who had expected the underdog Tanaka, 33, to win over the veteran southpaw Ono? Having failed twice to win the belt from Akira Yaegashi in 2011 and from unbeaten OPBF ruler Tsubasa Koura last April, Tanaka, with his short height and reach, was regarded as an always good loser showing a good performance without winning the game, but he wasn’t what he used to be. All his fight plan prevailed and his precision to the puzzling southpaw was much more excellent than expected.
The third round witnessed a beautifully well-timed countering right to the button of the 36-year-old champ, formerly two-time unsuccessful world challenger, who went down with a thud. Though Ono attempted to retaliate with his trade-mark southpaw lefts, it was Tanaka that caught up with the fading champ and decked him again with a very vicious right in the fatal eighth. The ref Martin declared a halt without hesitation. It’s Tanaka’s career-best showing.