Kosei Tanaka, co-creator of one of 2018’s Fights of the Year, announced today that he will make his first flyweight title defense on March 16th against former unified light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi.
Tanaka (12-0, 7 KO) defeated Julian Yedras for the WBO minimumweight belt at the age of 19, then moved up to 108 pounds following a knockout of future champion Vic Saludar. He went on to stop Moises Fuentes for the sanctioning body’s light flyweight title and defend it twice, including a mauling of future champion Angel Acosta. After a TKO of unbeaten Ronnie Baldonado in his flyweight debut, he went to war with countryman Sho Kimura over 12 bonkers rounds to claim the WBO flyweight strap.
Taguchi (27-3-2, 12 KO) spent over ten years as a light flyweight, holding the WBA belt from 2014-2018 and picking up the IBF belt in 2017 with a decision over Milan Melindo. He lost both titles to Hekkie Budler this past May, losing by a single point on all three scorecards.
Even without Taguchi’s belts, this is a phenomenal matchup; one of the great parts of Japan’s ongoing success in the lower weight classes is its willingness to pit its best fighters against one another and I hope to see this trend continue.