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Kosei Tanaka knocks out Wulan Tuolehazi in 3, retains WBO flyweight title

Photo courtesy Andre Ueda
31
Dec

Kosei Tanaka wrapped up a busy 2019 with his most dominant performance of the year, knocking out overmatched challenger Wulan Tuolehazi in three rounds to retain his WBO flyweight title for the third time this year.

The fight took place at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, and was the co-feature to the New Year’s Eve card which is headlined by the Kazuto Ioka vs. Jeyvier Cintron WBO junior bantamweight title fight.

The end came at the 2:29 mark, as a right uppercut from Tanaka (16-0, 9 knockouts), followed by two uppercuts from the other hand, put Tuolehazi (13-4-1, 6 KOs) down for the count. Tuolehazi, who is rated no. 10 by the WBO but unrated by The Ring, was down for approximately two minutes before making it back to his stool.

Tanaka, who is the no. 1 rated flyweight in The Ring rankings, pushed the fight from the outset, using his jab and angles to keep Tuolehazi on the defensive, and pounding the body whenever the challenger backed up to the ropes.

The fight was the first time Tuolehazi, a 26-year-old from Urumqi, China, was fighting outside of his home country.

Tanaka, 24, of Nagoya, Japan, won the title in September of 2018 with a majority decision win over Sho Kimura, and had previously defended it with wins over Ryoichi Taguchi and Jonathan Gonzalez. Tanaka is a three-division champion, having previously held the WBO titles at 105 and 108 pounds.

In another Japan vs. China matchup, Miyo Yoshida (14-1, 0 KOs) retained the WBO women’s junior bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Li Ping Shi (5-3, 2 KOs). The scores were 99-90, 97-92 and 98-91, all to Yoshida, who won the vacant belt in June with a win over Casey Morton.

Though the Tanaka-Tuolehazi fight was easy to call, there was at least one upset on the undercard.

Filipino journeyman Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10 KOs) knocked out Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13 KOs) at 1:24 of the first round, dropping the Japanese fighter with an overhand right, compelling referee Yuji Fukuchi to halt the fight.

Kuga, 29, entered the fight rated no. 8 by the WBC at 122 pounds. The win is the second straight upset KO in Japan for Ramonal, 30, who had stopped former title challenger Shingo Wake in three rounds in October.