Kosei Tanaka has started the process towards possibly challenging for the WBO super flyweight title down the line.
The WBO has announced that Tanaka, the organization's flyweight world champion, has been designated as the WBO "Super Champion," an honor given to a champion for fulfilling certain criteria during their run as champion or in their pro career.
With Tanaka being named the "Super Champion," he does have the ability to petition to the WBO to be named the mandatory challenger for the world title in the next weight up or down, which in Tanaka's case, would be the super flyweight title. The current WBO super flyweight champion is four-division titlist Kazuto Ioka.
At just 24 years old, Tanaka has already accomplished much in his 15-fight career. Starting out as a minimumweight, Tanaka won the WBO 105-pound title in 2014 in just his fifth pro fight. He would go on to win the WBO light flyweight title two years later in his eighth pro fight and then followed it up with a WBO flyweight title win over Sho Kimura in 2018. Tanaka is coming off a third-round knockout win over Wulan Tuolehazi on December 31 to retain the title.
Now, should Tanaka make the jump to super flyweight and vacate his flyweight belt, the WBO would then more than likely have to order a fight to crown a new champion. In most cases, the two highest-ranked available contenders would be ordered to fight for the vacant title. The two highest-ranked flyweights from the WBO top 15 are Giemel Magramo and Angel Acosta at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Following those two in the rankings are Junto Nakatani at No. 3 and Mirco Martin at No. 4.
This isn't the first time that a WBO champion has been given that designation in the past year. Two recent examples of such are former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk, who would use his "Super Champion" to become the mandatory challenger and No. 1 contender for the WBO heavyweight title held by Anthony Joshua, and Claressa Shields who became the "Super Champion" last July. Shields, the undisputed middleweight champion, won the WBO junior middleweight title along with the WBC title on January 10.