Monday, May 29, 2023  |



Kosei Tanaka, Pablo Carrillo battle for a spot in junior bantamweight title picture

Flyweight titleholder Kosei Tanaka’s stoppage of Jonathan Gonzalez triggered talk of a pound-for-pound ranking.
Fighters Network

As junior bantamweights jockey for position to be the top fighter at 115 pounds, Kosei Tanaka believes he is also amongst the best in the division.

Pablo Carrillo hopes to make a name for himself in the process.

Tanaka and Carrillo will square off Sunday night in a crossroads bout at the Paloma Mizuho Arena in Tanaka’s hometown of Nagoya, Japan. The 10-round junior bantamweight bout will headline a Hatanaka Promotions card that will air live throughout Japan and will stream online, beginning at 3:30 a.m. ET/ 12:30 a.m. PT.

“This is a solid fight,” All Star Boxing promoter Tuto Zabala, Jr. told The Ring Friday afternoon. “Both have action styles and they are aggressive and come forward. Both are ranked (in the top 15 by the WBC) at 115 pounds. This should be a great fight.”

Zabala stated he helped put the fight together earlier this year.

Whether the fight will be competitive remains to be seen. Tanaka will have a four-inch height advantage and is still regarded to be in the prime of his career. 

The 27-year-old Tanaka (18-1, 10 knockouts) is currently ranked No. 7 by The Ring. He has won world title belts at 105, 108 and 112 pounds and makes for fun fights by throwing a high-volume of punches and attempting to walk down his opponents. 

In his last bout on December 11, Tanaka defeated Yanga Sigqibo by unanimous decision. The win over Sigqibo came about five and a half months after Tanaka stopped Masayoshi Hashizume in the fifth round.

Tanaka moved up in weight to challenge then-WBO world junior bantamweight titleholder Kazuto Ioka in December 2020, losing by knockout in the eighth round. 

Carrillo (28-8-2, 17 KOs), who resides in Barranquilla, Colombia, also faced Ioka when both fought at 112 pounds. Carrillo would lose by unanimous decision to Ioka in September 2014.

In his last bout on November 24, the 34-year-old Carrillo defeated journeyman Andres Rubio by decision over eight one-sided rounds. Carrillo is unbeaten in his last four bouts since losing by unanimous decision to Donnie Nietes.

In the co-feature, Kento Hatanaka (13-0, 9 KOs), who also resides in Nagoya, will face 17-year-old Chawadon Mualsuk (5-0, 2 KOs) of Thailand in an eight-round junior bantamweight bout. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at sant[email protected]