Top-ranked World Boxing Organization super flyweight Kosei Tanaka of Soul Box Hatanaka Boxing Gym said on Nov. 10 that he will attain a generational change by knocking out WBO champion Kazuto Ioka on Dec. 31 at Tokyo’s Ota Ward Gymnasium.
Holding a press conference online like Ioka did the preceding day, the 25-year-old Tanaka, who has so far captured world titles in three different weight divisions, said, ‘’Mr. Ioka is the world champion and attained world titles in four different weight categories. But if I win the coming fight, I will draw level with him. I think I am stronger than him.’’
Undefeated Tanaka appeared to be offended when the 31-year-old Ioka emphasized in his Nov. 9 press conference that he is determined to show ‘’the difference of class.’’ Tanaka hastened to add, ‘’I can fight both at short range and long range. I am not inferior to him in terms of stamina, speed and power, and I want to well utilize those factors.’’
Tanaka won the WBO minimumweight crown in 2015 in his fifth professional bout, the shortest in the Japanese history, and became the WBO flyweight champion in 2018 in his 12th professional bout, a tie for the world record. If Tanaka beats Ioka and captures his fourth title in his 16th professional match, that will be the shortest career to achieve the feat in the world.
Like Ioka, who is aiming at fighting World Boxing Council world super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico and World Boxing Association super flyweight super champion Roman ‘’Chocolatito’’ Gonzales of Nicaragua, Tanaka also hopes to fight ‘’big-name’’ boxers.
According to Tanaka, the super flyweight weight limit of 115 pounds (52.1 kg) is ideal for him as Tanaka said, ‘’In this weight category, there are many strong boxers, and the upcoming fight with Mr. Ioka would be a stepping stone to fights with other strong boxers in the division.
Tanaka engaged in hard training in the Philippines last March despite the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, saying, ‘’I think I have improved my technique to a considerable extent over the past one year. I’m sure everybody would be surprised if they see me fighting.’’
While Ioka said in his Nov. 9 meeting that the fight with Tanaka is just a stepping stone, Tanaka said, ‘’For me, it is the biggest match in my career. Therefore, I want to win it by all means.’’
‘’Since I will challenge the champion who has led the Japanese boxing world, I want to beat him convincingly. That is a knockout victory to show a generational change. By so doing, I hope I can lead the Japanese boxing world.’’
Ioka has a record of 25 wins, including 14 KOs, against two losses, while Tanaka, who is based in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, has 15 straight wins, nine by KO. Photo by Hatanaka Boxing Gym