Kosei Tanaka survived getting knocked down for the first time as a flyweight champion and defeated Jonathan Gonzalez in his latest, and perhaps final, title defense.
Tanaka beat Gonzalez with a seventh round stoppage after hurting the Puerto Rican challenger with a number of big body shots. Tanaka retained the WBO flyweight title for the second time since winning the belt back in September 2018.
The fight started with Tanaka being able to score a knockdown in the third round with a body shot to Gonzalez and nearly stopped him. Gonzalez bounced back strong in the following round when he managed to land a counter left hand stepping back into the corner to the side of Tanaka’s head. Despite the surprise knockdown, Tanaka showed no signs that he was truly hurt from that knockdown.
As the fight progressed, Tanaka and Gonzalez would trade shots left and right but Tanaka’s body work was starting to break down Gonzalez. Yet, even as Tanaka was finding success with the body shots, Tanaka did struggle at times to catch up with Gonzalez and the Puerto Rican was finding ways to land his own shots.
In the seventh round, Tanaka started off by sending Gonzalez to the canvas twice with Gonzalez being slow to get up each time. After the second knockdown of the seventh round, Tanaka targeted Gonzalez’s ribs and knocked him down one more time, but as the challenger was about to get up, the referee stopped the count and called off the fight, giving the win to Tanaka.
This was Tanaka’s second title defense of the year after his first defense saw him beat former light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi in March. There had been rumblings of Tanaka looking to make the jump to super flyweight in an effort to become just the latest man to win a world title in four different weight classes, though nothing is set in stone. The current WBO champion is Tanaka’s fellow countryman Kazuto Ioka, who is likely heading for a showdown against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron.