Takeda Teva Ocean Arena, Nagoya - In what became an absolute war from start to finish, Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7 KOs) became a three division world champion with a twelve round majority decision over Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10 KOs) to capture the WBO flyweight world title. The scores were 116-112, 115-113 and 114-114.
Tanaka, who turned pro in 2013, had previously won world titles at strawweight and junior flyweight. In July of 2017, he had a memorable decision win over an undefeated Angel Acosta. He won the WBO world title at 105-pounds in his fifth pro fight and captured the WBO title at 108-pounds in his eight fight.
Kimura shocked the Asian boxing scene in July of 2017, when he stopped Olympic gold medal winner Zou Shiming in the eleventh round to capture the WBO crown, and then he retained the title twice with wins over Toshiyuki Igarashi and Froilan Saludar - both wins by knockout.
The fight began as a war, with both boxers on the inside trading hard punches. Kimura had the edge in the first, but Tanaka came right back in the second and wobbled Kimura near the end of the round.
Both fighters had their moments in the third, with hard power shots landing flush. And their high action fight continued in the fourth.
Kimura was digging heavy to the body in the fifth round and landing hard shots on Tanaka. A lot of Tanaka's counters were being blocked.
The trading of heavy leather continued in the sixth. Both fighters were doing damage and they were not taking a step back, as punches were flying from close range.
Tanaka was landing the better punches in the seventh, with Kimura staying close to land some more of his own in return. They were taking turns unloading with big combinations in the eight. At this point, the right eye of Kimura was swelling up bad and not far away from closing shut.
After Tanaka took control of the ninth, it was Kimura who came out swinging away with big punches in the tenth. Kimura was going to the head and body like a maniac. Tanaka may have been taking most of the round off, but he came back with some punches in the final minute with Kimura being relentless.
Tanaka came out rallying at the start of the eleventh. He was taking his turn to unload with big punch combos to the head and body. Kimura showed a chin of iron and continued to stay on the inside and fight. They traded shots, in toe to toe fashion, to close out the round.
They came out ready for more warfare in twelfth, right back on the inside, and trading more punches. During one of the exchanges, Tanaka landed a massive hook right to the chin, which Kimura seemed to brush off and kept coming forward to trade some more. Both were absolutely exhausted when the fight ended.