By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
Unbeaten three-class champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7 KOs), 23, of Japan, will participate in his supposedly toughest bout in his career as he will put his WBO flyweight belt on the line against grudge rival, former WBA 108-pound titlist, compatriot Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12 KOs), 32, tomorrow (Saturday) in Gifu city, Japan.
When both of them were light-flyweight champs two years ago, the WBO ruler Tanaka sustained an optic injury to have the unification title bout with Taguchi, then the WBA titleholder, cancelled despite people’s great expectations. Time has come for Tanaka to wipe off a disgrace that some people then castigated him for his alleged escape from his showdown with Taguchi.
They participated in a weigh-in ceremony at the CBC Television hall today with each tipping the beam at the same 112-pound class limit.
The WBO officials are as follows: Referee Steve Willis (US); judges Rose Lacend (US), Hernando Steidel (Puerto Rico), Takeo Harada (Japan); supervisor Tsuyoshi Yasukochi (Japan).
Taguchi, an inch and a half taller than the enfant terrible, successfully kept his WBA 108-pound belt on seven occasions to his credit before his forfeiture of the diadem at the hand of South African Hekkie Budler partly due to his severe reduction of weight in May of the previous year. He decided to move up to the 112-pound category, and then it was Tanaka’s manager/promoter and ex-WBC 122-pound champ Kiyoshi Hatanaka that made an offer to Taguchi’s handler Hitoshi Watanabe for a well-received grudge fight. Tanaka outgrew the flyweight division earlier than Taguchi, and captured the WBO belt by edging defending titlist Sho Kimura in the Fight of the Year last September. This will be Tanaka’s initial defense of his WBO belt.
Fight fans outside of Japan will be able to watch this sensational encounter LIVE with the following FREE streaming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0N1dbnw698
L0N1 is L-zero-N-1, not L-Oh-N-1.
The Tanaka-Taguchi title bout will start at 4 pm Japanese Time, telecast live nationwide through CBC/TBS.