By Derek Bonnett
Continuing the deluge of Japanese boxing action to end 2016, Kosei Tanaka met Moises Fuentes in a bid to claim the vacant WBO light flyweight title. The contest was held at Memorial Center in Gifu, Gifu, Japan. Tanaka, previously champion at 105 pounds, sought to win his second world title at the age of twenty-one. Fuentes, hailing from Distrito Federal, Mexico City, Mexico, is also a former world champion at minimumweight.
The action started quickly at the Memorial Center with Tanaka asserting his jab in the face of Fuentes while circling to the left. Fuentes began tapping the body of his younger foe. Tanaka quick right hands began finding their mark almost immediately. Fighting off the back foot, the Japanese fighter showed tremendous power in taking the opening stanza. Fuentes fought well in the second round. He began landing with his own right hands on Tanaka. Fuentes’ early punches put Tanaka on the move with some defensive footwork. Fuentes connected on a left hook, but swallowed a nice counter from Tanaka. The round was close, but I favored Fuentes to even the bout up one round apiece. Fuentes opened the third chasing Tanaka down, but the Japanese fighter pivoted well and turned Fuentes to the ropes where he stung him with two overhand rights. Tanaka finished the round attacking the body an head with left hooks. The final moments were punishing for Fuentes as Tanaka clearly took the round. Round four was competitively fought with good exchanges from both men. The overhand right landed again and again for Tanaka, but the Mexican boxer clipped the youngster with a few stiff jabs. A leaping left hook caught Fuentes in the closing moments to complete another Tanaka round. Fuentes tried to get his own overhand right going in the fifth, but Tanaka circled him well in hunt for more left hooks. After peppering Fuentes with some jabs, Tanaka hurt Fuentes along the ropes. Fuentes looked ready to wilt as the pressure from the Japanese fighter increased. After a barrage of shots, Tanaka put Fuentes down on his knees. The referee immediately waved the contest off at the 1:52 mark.
Tanaka claimed the WBO light flyweight title and raised his record to 8-0-0 (5). With his second world title belt around his waist, Tanaka positioned himself for match-ups with the best in the division. Fuentes fell to 24-3-1 (13). This bout would be Fuentes third unsuccessful attempt to claim a belt at 108 pounds.